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Based on a comic by Yarou Abe, Shinya Shokudo is a story about a small
hole in the wall late night restaurant (literally Shinya Shokudo in
Japanese) that operates between midnight and 7:00 a.m. in the morning.
The restaurant is run by only one person, the master (Kaoru Kobayashi)
of the joint. There are only four items on the menu Tonjiru (pork based
stew), beer, sake, and shochu (potato liquor), but customers can order
anything the master can make in his kitchen. The restaurant is located
in the Hanazono area of Shinjuku, and has only the generic description
of "Meshiya" (food place in Japanese) on its lantern.
So far 20 episodes has been on air between 2009 (the first series) and 2011 (the second series). They were all broadcast in the late night slot between midnight and 2:00 in the morning. For a late night program that are considered a "hit" if they average 1% viewers, this program consistently got over 2% ratings that attests to its popularity.
The episodes consists of life stories of customers who frequent the restaurant, but starting in the second series, each episodes consists of new customer who have their own life stories going. Because of the hours the restaurant operates, and the nature of its size, customers who frequents the place have their life in specialized areas of society that includes gangs, construction workers, lady godiva, and also part timer, fast food joint owner, salaried workers, but most of them has special background that makes the story unique and interesting.
Each episodes has particular dish that master makes that relates to the story. The list of foods on each of the episodes are as follows:
1. Baked Sausage and tamago yaki.
2. Bonito shavings and rice
3. Rice with tea
4. Potato salad.
5. Butter rice
6. Katsu Donburi
7. Egg sandwich
8. Yaki soba
9. Broiled Aji
1. Baked Sausage
2. Chicken Karaage
3. Steamed clam
4. Nikogori (gelatin left from cooking fish)
5. Canned foods
6. Cream Stew
7. Pickeled Bock Choi
8. Cold ramen
9. Potato cooked with beef
10. Gyoza (Pot Stickers)
The series is superb in that it tells the story of the underbellies of the society with emotion, sentiment and love unlike any other stories told. Food designer Nami Iijima designed the foods that appear in this series, and all of these items are common items consumed by Japanese families, but not usually served in ordinary Japanese restaurants.
If you can find a copy of this drama, it will be an interesting watch guaranteed.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It seems to me, one of the common theme in this show is how people
associate food with their life experiences. The food are fairly simple,
but its the emotion and memories that you keep with that makes the
tastes extra special.
As far as I can tell, the series was broadcast has 2 seasons. As I only watched the DVD that comes in 2 packages, 1 and 2. Each is around 24min or so. It tells the stories that happen in a tiny restaurant that opens from midnight to dawn. Where the limited menu is augmented by customer request that the master (and only) chef can accommodate.
What is so endearing is the characters, they are not really quirky, but are struggling each in their own way. The season 1 stories are more sad,while season 2 adds more external shots and humour.
I like the mumbling guy who occasionally say a few philosophical lines. And the last story of the 2nd season actually ends up to be story about how he came to be. Very poignant.
Overall the tone of the entire series is low key but well thought out.
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