Restaurant to Another World, Vol. 3

By Junpei Inuzuka and Katsumi Enami. Released in Japan as “Isekai Shokudou” by Shufunotomosha. Released in North America by Seven Seas. Translated by Elliot Ryouga. Adapted by Jude Wetherell.

We’re introduced to the third main cast member from the anime here. Kuro (who calls herself Black in her inner monologue, but they mean the same thing anyway) is an ancient legend now living, literally, on the moon because in her true form she causes people to drop dead around her. Fortunately, she can suppress it when she turns into an elf girl and can enter the restaurant, where she falls in love with the chicken curry and stays to become the restaurant’s second waitress. That said, much like the first two books, the staff don’t get much focus at all. The emphasis i\s on the diners – some old friends, some new – and the food they’re eating. We jump around a lot more here, sometimes confusingly (one chapter ends with an ancient warrior going to see his late lover, who seems to have the same name as our sweets-loving princess), but if you love reading about food, this remains the light novel for you.

Indeed, sometimes the novel seems to actively avoid any conflict at all. The first and second volumes had a few arguments (usually about food), but there’s none of that here, as they’ve learned to simply avoid the people they know would cause friction. It’s especially obvious with Kuro, who once has an ancient Elven priestess come for food and completely not notice her, despite mentioning her fearsome and terrifying past earlier in the book. It was a bit frustrating to me till the end, when it became apparent that – much like her power of “death” – Kuro seems to be making it so that she’s unnoticed by all but the strongest folks – and they’re not saying anything. She was asked by “Red” – the dragon we’ve seen earlier – to essentially be security for the restaurant in case someone tries to kidnap the owner and take him back to the other world. So far she’s done her job very well, but it can lead to a certain… I want something exciting to happen, dammit!

Till then, there’s just getting excited about the food. We get a few interesting variants here. Birthday Cake comes up to celebrate a child’s not-quite-coming-of-age-but-close-enough, and we see the Master preparing BBQ for a Japanese festival he’s participating in (we do not actually see the festival). The sake-steamed clams sounded amazing. And oh yes, right near the end as the legendary warrior is experiencing the wonder of croquettes, we find that the Master and his father (who we also see, as several of these chapters take place “in the past”) may not be as completely unrelated to the fantasy world as previously expected. I liked the idea, very appropriate for a book like this, that since the master was not able to use, say, magic or swordfighting in modern-day Japan, that he was taught how to be a marvelous chef instead. You pass down what you can to teach your children.

We’ve seen a plethora of food-related manga and novels recently, but this one remains in the top tier for both descriptions of delicious food and also giving you enough characterization and plot to keep coming back for more even though it’s still a bit thin. A yummy read.

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