Of the many subgenres of manga, cooking manga has one of the most devoted followings. These Japanese comics showcase all the various mishaps that can happen in the kitchen, as well as the wonderful world of cuisine. If you’re new to the world of cooking manga, you’ll definitely want to check out a few of these classic tales.
What Is Cooking Manga?
Manga, the comic book cousin of anime, has several different subgenres that explore various elements of society, including food. Cooking manga is a subgenre that deals primarily with what happens in the kitchen. And while you think that may be limited to cooking up some exotic cuisine, there’s a lot more to it than that. Not only are the characters typically employed in some kind of kitchen setting, there’s usually a love story with the kitchen used as a backdrop. The stories start out innocently enough with the main character learning how to cook omelets or some other food, and evolve from there. Romance, intrigue, crime, and mystery can all be woven into a cooking manga while the food and cuisine always take center stage.
Highly Rated Cooking Manga to Check Out
If you like watching Iron Chef, you’ll probably also enjoy taking a look at some cooking manga as well. Many of the same elements that made the TV show great can be found in the comics, including suspense, exotic ingredients, and competition. If you’re interested in checking out some cooking manga for yourself, be sure to start with these highly rated books.
Toriko by Mitsutoshi Shimabukuro
Get out of the kitchen and go hunting for some unusual ingredients with Toriko. In this series Toriko, a hunter of exotic ingredients, is highly sought after by the chefs of every exclusive restaurant. Toriko is tasked with finding, capturing, and delivering these evasive and rare animals. Blessed with super-human abilities, Toriko is able to overcome nearly any obstacle, including an accomplice who has no business being out in these woods.
Yakitate!! Japan by Hashiguchi Takashi
16-year old Yakitate does not want Japan to fall behind the rest of the world in any culinary capacity – including the baking of bread. So while Japan is not known for its bakeries, Yakitate will come up with a bread that can compete on a global level and make a new name for Japan on the culinary map. His Ja-Pan is produced with his super-human ability to bake, and is destined to become the national bread of his country.
Addicted to Curry by Funatsu Kazuki
If you’ve ever wanted to try your hand at learning Indian cooking, you’ll probably find yourself quickly Addicted to Curry. This comedic series centers around Makito Koenji, a curry chef who has the ability to help keep the restaurant Ganesha open through a series of unfortunate events including a lack of customers and a hostile takeover by a competitor, as well as numerous other events.
Bambino by Sekiya Tetsuji
Have a love of Italian food? Then check out Bambino where college student Shogo Ban, a part time cook, who finds himself working in a top Italian restaurant. While Ban is initially living the dream, he quickly finds himself overwhelmed by the work, as well as his personal life, which includes his studies, a girlfriend, and some prickly co-workers.
The Drops of God by Tadashi Aqi and Shu Okimoto
The Drops of God is one of the most influential comics around. Not only does it feature a compelling story laced with references to great wines, it also includes the names of wines you can purchase and try for yourself. In fact, Decanter Magazine called it one of the most influential wine publications in the world. Follow the story of Shizuki, the son of a famous wine critic who has died leaving Shizuki to compete with a rival for control of a wine cellar worth millions of dollars.
Kitchen Princess by Natsumi Ando and Miyuki Kobayashi
If you prefer lighter reading, check out Kitchen Princess, a story of a young chef in training. Najika has just been accepted at a prestigious cooking academy, and she now finds that she’s going to need more than talent to make her way through the world. The comic is filled with simple recipes for novice cooks to try out at home, as well as filled with sweet stories and comic tales of success.
Gokudou Meshi by Shigeru Tsuchiyama
Gokudou Meshi is not about cooking food, but about eating and savoring every single bite. The name loosely translates to Gangster’s Buffet, and the tale centers around the inmates in a Japanese jail and the meal that they get to eat on New Year’s Day. Each prisoner tells the tale of the most delicious meal they’ve ever eaten, competing to get an extra serving of the lavish food they’ll share.
Mixed Vegetables by Ayumi Komura
Typical cooking manga or a tale of star crossed lovers? In Mixed Vegetables, we follow the tale of two young students – Hanayu, who dreams of becoming a sushi chef while growing up in her parent’s pastry shop, and Hayato, who loves to bake sweets, but who works in his parent’s sushi restaurant. The two get up to regular high jinks while the reader waits to see if romance will blossom.
Iron Wok Jan by Shinji Saijyo
What do you get when you combine Kung Fu moves with the competition of the Iron Chef? Iron Wok Jan. Jan is a talented chef who is just arriving at an exclusive Chinese restaurant in Tokyo. He’s dying to show his stuff to everyone around him, and the comic is filled with interesting facts, tips, and recipes for amateur chefs to follow.
Honey Sweet Kitchen by Yamamoto Kotetsuko
Honey Sweet Kitchen follows the actions of Minato, a college drop-out who now heads her deceased grandmother’s cooking school. Minato takes the advice from friends and relatives to handpick her staff of lecturers for the school, but when the school opens is when the real fun begins.
Shokugeki No Soma by Saeki Shun
All Yukihira Souma wants is to surpass his father in culinary skills and become a full-time chef in the family restaurant. Unfortunately, just as Souma gets close to his dream, his father closes to the restaurant to cook in Europe. Undeterred, Souma takes a place at a culinary school from which only 10 percent of the students graduate. Will he survive it?
Cooking Master Boy by Ogawa Etsushi
It is the Era of the Cooking Wars and the late 19th century when Mao’s mother Pai- the Fairy of Cuisine – passes away. Now Mao must become a Super Chef in order to take his mother’s place in her restaurant. Before he can do so, though, he must go on a journey to learn more about cooking, food, and friendship in China.
Kitchen Palette by Takada Rie
Komugi loves food. In fact, she loves food so much that she agrees not to touch her fortune to support herself and instead takes a low-paying job at Italian restaurant L’Aurora. Unfortunately Komugi finds it more of a challenge than she bargained for as she clashes wits with the restaurant’s top chef, battles poverty, and – worst of all – hunger.
The Antique Bakery by Fumi Yoshinaga
The Antique Bakery is filled with comedy as three unlikely partners come together to bake up some sweet treats, along with romance, and drama. A scruffy former professional, a boxer, and a gay pastry chef have only one thing in common – their bakery and a love of French pastry that is handed down through the book in recipes and tips for the reader.
Oishinbo Ala Carte by Tetsu Kariya and Akira Hanasaki
Shiro Yamaoka is a journalist who also happens to be a gourmet chef. Together with his partner, Yuko Kurita, Shiro sets out to find the very best cuisine in Japan. They go after exotic flavors and rare ingredients, while battling personal demons, like Shiro’s father Yuzan Kaibara, a gourmand who terrorizes chefs and demands only the best. The entire book is a gastronomical journey that is a pleasure to read.
Cooking Papa by Tochi Ueyama
One of the most beloved cooking manga series is Cooking Papa by Tochi Ueyama. This serialized story revolves around a professional man who loves to cook at home – but who doesn’t want any of his co-workers to find out. Instead, he keeps his passion a secret, telling others that it is really his wife who prepares the delicious food he brings in daily. Included in the serial are plenty of recipes for readers to try out for themselves.
Indulge in Some Cooking Manga
Cooking manga is for all food lovers, from those that are learning how to cook, to those who simply love to eat. All you need to enjoy any cooking manga series is a love of good food, and an appreciation for the type of life that can happen when you dwell inside a kitchen. Take a look at any cooking manga series the next time you feel the need to indulge in some lighthearted reading and see what makes this manga subgenre so popular.