I find things like Yakitate!! Japan (I’ve only read the manga) and Food Wars! (both the manga and anime) entertaining up to a point, but the over-exaggerated reactions to tasting various foods gets old after a while. If you like graphic novels and food, but want something a little more down-to-earth, then you should check out What Did You Eat Yesterday? It’s a pretty niche series, in that it follows Kenji and Shiro, a gay couple in current day Japan, through their daily lives, but focuses on Kenji’s cooking and occasional discovery of new recipes or techniques from various friends. The recipes are actually acted out in the panels, although sometimes they are also re-iterated at the end of a given chapter in more traditional recipe form. The biggest drawback with this series is that it can be hard to find, and the availability of new volumes in English can be hard to figure out.
I’m up to volume 13, and in this installment we see Kenji organizing a hot pot get-together with a couple he and Shiro are friends with, Shiro dealing with turning 50 and Kenji (who’s a few years older) trying to figure out how to frame a birthday dinner so as not to upset his more emotional partner, and some glimpses into both Kenji and Shiro’s professional lives and office drama (Kenji is a lawyer and Shiro is a hair stylist).
The only problem I have with the cooking and recipe parts is that they rely on ingredients and styles that I would have a hard time getting access to or working with. The nearest well-stocked international market to me is nearly two hours away, and I also don’t have a schedule that’s friendly to daily meal preparation. So even though I may not ever actually try things like carrot shirishiri (not so much for the ingredients, but the combo of carrot and tuna seems a little odd to me personally), Chinese komatsuna soup (komatsuna is apparently a type of mustard green and I have no idea if regular mustard green would substitute), or octopus and scallion butter ponzu stir fry (some of the ingredients like the octopus, real ponzu, and ‘Japanese-style soup stock’ would be hard to find), it’s still interesting to learn about normal home cooking culture. And there are a few things I might actually try, like sweet potato and apple stewed in lemon or asparagus dressed in dashi and mirin.