Otherworldly Izakaya Nobu Volume 10
With volume 10, Otherworldly Izakaya Nobu has really settled down into a comfort read, much like the comfort food it promotes.
One of the soldiers who’ve been frequent customers of the pub has an issue. His wife is pregnant, and her family has sent them excessive amounts of dried squid from her homeland. They want to give it away, so they enlist the izakaya’s help. (I was reminded of a similar problem that arises with Southern US home gardens, although in that case, it’s usually tomatoes or zucchini.)
The solution that comes up is tempura, and the way it’s described — both in the preparation and the eating — makes my mouth water. As the regulars sample and enjoy the dish (accompanied by lots of “whatsontapp” lager), they also reflect on how it’s been a year that the Japanese establishment has been open in this historical German town. Yep, it’s an anniversary, and so many of the established characters pop by or are mentioned fondly. There’s a lovely message, too, about how one doesn’t need a special day, that every day should be special with good food.
Many of the following chapters have similarly warming themes. One’s about a father learning to accept his son’s choice not to follow his craft but to take up cooking. Food brings families together.
They all have appropriately emotional characters and delicious images of meals I’d love to taste. I found it amusing that Hans, challenged to create his own dish, comes up with a version of pelmeni, Russian dumplings. When the chef and hostess taste it, their reaction is “that’s just gyoza,” reminding us of how common dumplings are across cultures.
And that’s what’s fun about this series — medieval German customers, modern Japanese staff, and English-speaking readers all can find commonality in enjoying inarizushi or bento boxes, even if for the readers, it’s just the idea of the food.