Food Wars! The Fourth Plate debuts today, so what better time to get ready for new episodes by reviewing the original two seasons.
The food, of course, not the story.
If you’re not familiar with the anime (or manga), Food Wars! follows aspiring chef Yukihira Soma as he attends Totsuki Culinary Academy, a brutally elite training ground where only 10% of students manage to graduate. The show is structured like a battle anime, but instead of ninja jutsu or a bankai, students contest with their skills in the kitchen and in official contests called shokugeki. Much delicious-looking food is created in the process, even if it is animated. It inspires one to do things like buying a proper chef’s knife and learn what a confit is.
Alas, I lack basically all kitchen skills that exceed the use of a microwave or can opener, so I will never get to taste these amazing creations. But that doesn’t stop me from dreaming.
So without further ado, here are the dishes (in no particular order) from the first two seasons of Food Wars! that I wish I could make at home. Or have someone make for me. I’m not picky.
1. Megumi’s Onigiri
In episode 6, the residents of Polar Star dormitory have spent the morning hard at work in the garden, so Tadokoro Megumi surprises them with breakfast – hot tea and onigiri (rice balls). One type of onigiri is filled with garlic and honey pork, another with shio kombu and cheese, and the third has chicken with sake, ginger, sugar, sesame oil, and scallions.
This dish is really the first time we witness Megumi’s own brand of cooking; she specializes in food that is “soothing,” that’s “carefully prepared” with the health and enjoyment of the recipient in mind.
Of all the dishes shown in Food Wars!, onigiri is certainly not the most spectacular. But this dish is more than just breakfast. It’s a representation of Megumi herself.
Plus it sounds delicious.
2. Hayama’s Curry
Episode 24 brings us thick in the midst of the 43rd Autumn Election, an elimination style tournament to decide the best chef in the school’s class of first years. Soma is up against Hayama Akira, a spice specialist with a perfect sense of smell.
Hayama presents the judges with a naan bread pot pie. They are unimpressed until he instructs them to break open the top with their spoon. This releases an explosion of aroma into the auditorium – a “fragrance bomb.” Inside the lid of naan bread hides an exquisite fish head curry with yoghurt and holy basil (a herb which is revered as “an elixir of life” in southeast Asia).
Having grown up an orphan on the streets, Hayama is used to being overlooked and underestimated. Since he was adopted by Shiomi Jun, a Totsuki alumnus and current lecturer, he has devoted his life to her and put his gift of smell to work for her benefit.
Like Hayama himself, there’s more to his curry than meets the eye. And I wouldn’t mind being in the vicinity when a fragrance bomb explodes.
3. Alice’s Bento
Just one episode after Hayama’s fragrance bomb, it’s Nakiri Alice’s turn to impress the judges at the Autumn Election.
Alice is known as “the darling of molecular gastronomy.” She specializes in preparing food with innovative scientific techniques to create completely new dishes. Her dish for the election is a bento with sushi prepared to look like Temari (an ancient Japanese art form for making thread balls). Each sushi Temari has a unique twist, however, such as kelp stock foam or tomato jus that been separated in a centrifuge.
A member of the prestigious Nakiri family, Alice has spent her life trying to escape the shadow of her more famous cousin, Nakiri Erina, who is gifted with the “god tongue” (an incredibly sensitive, accurate sense of taste).
To strike out on her own, Alice wants to forge new paths and show the world something they’ve never seen. She’s rich, bossy, and careful of appearances. Her bento mirrors that perfectly.
Not to mention, aged beef filet sushi? Yes, please.
4. Takumi’s Semifreddo
Episode 28, and we’re getting closer to the conclusion of the Autumn Election. This time it’s Aldini Takumi of Italy ready to present his masterpiece, a four-layer lemon curd semifreddo (meaning “half-frozen” in Italian, semifreddo is like a combination of ice cream and mousse).
Takumi’s semifreddo starts with a base of genoise (a European sponge cake), then a layer of lemon curd, then ice cream with meringue, and finally a topping of roasted pralines.
Raised in his family’s Tuscan restaurant, Takumi is fiercely proud of his heritage, his skills, and his beloved mezzaluna knife. Despite the stress of the competition, he remains true to his roots and elevates the simple semifreddo to the level of art – “a Mediterranean breeze.” It’s the dish of his home and his family.
Besides, I always have room for dessert.
5. Soma’s Karaage
Last but not least, let’s rewind all the way back to episode 18. Soma has been home on break and working to help save the Sumiredōri Shopping District, site of many mom-and-pop shops in his hometown. Sumiredōri’s business is being threatened by a new shopping mall that houses a high-end karaage franchise called Mozuya (karaage is a Japanese dish made by marinating meat, most often chicken, and then deep-frying it).
To bring business back to Sumiredōri, Soma enlists the help of several friends and the residents of the shopping district to create Sumire Mark Karaage — spicy, fried chicken thigh meat with crisp lettuce and savoury sauce, served in a hand-help wrap that’s branded with the Sumiredōri logo.
This dish is a far cry from the fancy fare of Totsuki. It’s a dish made for, and by, regular people, a throwback to Soma’s humble roots at his father’s diner.
And it’s fried chicken. Let’s not forget that.
So there you have it – the five foods from Food Wars! I most wish I could make at home (so far). I can’t wait to see what new dishes season four brings. Itadakimasu!
Adapted from a list originally published here.