Oishinbo (美味しんぼ, “The Gourmet”) is a long-running cooking manga written by Tetsu Kariya and drawn by Akira Hanasaki. The manga’s title is a portmanteau of the Japanese word for delicious, oishii, and the word for someone who loves to eat, kuishinbo. The series depicts the adventures of culinary journalist Shirō Yamaoka and his partner (and later wife), Yūko Kurita. It was published by Shogakukan between 1983 and 2008 in Big Comic Spirits, and resumed again on February 23, 2009, only to be put on an indefinite hiatus after the May 12, 2014 edition in the weekly Big Comic Spirits as a response by the publisher to harsh criticism of Oishinbo’s treatment of the Fukushima Daiichi disaster.
Oishinbo is a drama featuring journalist Shiro Yamaoka who works for Touzai Shimbun. He is a cynical food critic who is tasked by the newspaper’s owner, along with the young Yuko Kurita, to provide recipes for the “ultimate menu”. During their search, the encounter Yamaoka’s fastidious and demanding father, Kaibara Yuzan, a famous gourmand who tries to sabotage Yamaoka’s project.
United States Release:
Oishinbo: Japanese Cuisine, Vol. 1 (January 20, 2009)
Japanese Cuisine introduces us to the fundamental ingredients–rice, sashimi, green tea, and dashi (cooking stock)–that constitute the soul of the Japanese kitchen. In each story we learn about the proper preparation and presentation of different dishes, as well as their history and cultural significance. The result is a moveable feast of a book, as informative as it is engaging.
Oishinbo: Sake, Vol. 2 (March 17, 2009)
In this volume, the focus shifts from food to drink: specifically, to sake. For centuries different types of sake have played the same roles in Japan as wine and beer have in the West, from inexpensive everyday drink to refined single-batch rarities. Above all, sake has been enjoyed as an accompaniment to a meal, and after a revelatory moment one night, Yamaoka decides that drink pairings must be an integral part of the Ultimate Menu. So which foods go best with which drinks? Sit down, pour yourself a glass, and read on!
Oishinbo: Ramen & Gyoza, Vol. 3 (May 19, 2009)
Few foods inspire as much passion and partisanship as the dish of noodles in broth known as “ramen.” Hot or cold, plain or miso, from fancy fusion creations to humble roadside takeout, ramen is truly a beloved food, one that can give rise to fierce loyalty or fiercer criticism (not to mention the occasional fistfight). In this volume of Oishinbo, Yamaoka and company inquire into the “soul of ramen,” from the flour used in the noodles to the chickens used in the broth. And where there’s ramen, there’s gyôza: little dumplings made with a variety of fillings and served as a side dish. Will Yamaoka be able to create an “ultimate” gyôza before Kaibara creates a “supreme” one?
Oishinbo: Fish, Sushi & Sashimi, Vol. 4 (July 21, 2009)
Yamaoka and his father, Kaibara Yūzan, have never enjoyed an ideal father-son relationship. In fact, it’s about as far from ideal as possible, and when they start arguing about food–which they inevitably do–the sparks really fly. In this volume of Oishinbo the subject of dispute is fish, starting with the question of whether mackerel can ever be truly good sashimi. Later, things come to a head during the “Salmon Match,” which pits father against son in an epic contest to develop the best dish before a panel of judges. Will Yamaoka finally defeat Kaibara? Or will he once again be left in his father’s shadow?
Oishinbo: Vegetables, Vol. 5 (September 15, 2009)
Weekly Time magazine sets up a series of culinary battles between the Tōzai News’s “Ultimate Menu,” represented by Yamaoka, and the Teito Times’s “Supreme Menu,” represented by Kaibara Yūzan, Yamaoka’s father and nemesis. The ingredient this time is vegetables, specifically cabbages and turnips. Who will win the Vegetable Showdown? Later, Yamaoka and Kurita help Tomii’s son get over his hatred of eggplant, and patch a rift between lovers using the power of asparagus.
Oishinbo: The Joy of Rice, Vol. 6 (November 17, 2009)
In this volume of Oishinbo, Yamaoka and company look into the single most essential food in Japanese cuisine: rice. Cultivated for millennia, a staple meal in itself and the basis of countless other dishes, rice is an important component not only of the Japanese kitchen but also of Japanese culture. When Yamaoka is asked by Tōzai’s head chef for help in coming up with a new rice dish, what starts out as a simple culinary request rapidly grows into a disquisition into the past, present and future of Japan’s food culture.
Oishinbo: Izakaya: Pub Food, Vol. 7 (January 19, 2010)
Izakaya occupy the same vital space in the Japanese culinary landscape as tapas bars in Spain or tavernas in Greece. Unpretentious, frequently boisterous, they’re places to meet with friends or business partners to unwind over drinks and small dishes that range from hearty standards to refined innovations. In this volume of Oishinbo, Yamaoka and Kurita investigate classic izakaya foods such as edamame and yakitori, devise new dishes to add to the menu of an old shop, and discover how the concept of “play” is essential to the enjoyment of food.
Sources: Oishinbo manga, Wikipedia