by Shinji Saijyo
published by DrMaster Publications; $9.95 US
Jan has been competing against a rich amateur chef in a battle focusing on liver. The amateur spends freely to obtain gourmet goodies like foie gras, while Jan faces him down with unexpected variants, including fish and chicken livers. When Jan’s food is tasted, the factor of whether or not a dish can be easily recreated becomes an important part of the ranking. It’s refreshing to see the series get back to a focus on ingredients, with the food playing a starring role.
Jan then faces a new challenger, one who uses nutritional science and principles of chemistry to devise new food combinations with unusual properties. Jan’s traditional methods go up against the amateur’s specialist tools, with Jan demonstrating, as expected, that a skilled chef doesn’t need fancy gadgets. The chefs are also reminded of the need to consider the customer’s tastes when cooking, with the amateur pulling off some interesting tricks involving endorphins, pleasure-causing chemicals, and principles learned from junk food.
Unfortunately, the series presentation can be a little sloppy, with mis-hyphenated words and poor caption placement. There are occasional typos in chapter titles, dialogue misspellings, and duplicated text. The translation is basic and sometimes stilted, and a pronunciation key for the non-translated terms would be an improvement. Pages might have faded blacks, with fine lines and detail disappearing. They look washed out, like a multiple-generation Xerox copy.Iron Wok Jan! Book 1 § Iron Wok Jan! Book 16 § Oishinbo a la Carte 1: Japanese Cuisine § What’s Up With Iron Wok Jan? § Kitchen Princess Book 2