Never before have I read a book that made me so hungry! Restaurant to Another World, book 1, by Junpei Inuzuka, is a light read focused on gastronomic goodness. Every Saturday, Western Cuisine Nekoya restaurant in Japan connects to another world, a world full of magicians, elves, warriors, and the like.
Restaurant is charming in its approach: It is from the perspective of the people in the magical world who come to the place to eat their favorite dishes. Although there is some awkward phrasing with the English translation, it mostly works as we are seeing things from the perspective of fantasy people and creatures who struggle to describe the delicious alien dishes. It’s fun seeing our food–and it’s a variety of dishes, not just Japanese dishes–from that viewpoint.
I enjoyed the book, but it was more a series of vignettes rather than a cohesive story. Any and every fantasy creature populates this other world, from Lord of the Rings characters, to tiny people, and there is a complete lack of forward momentum or overarching story arc. Character and food descriptions are okay, but I’m a reader that likes plots, and often complicated ones at that. Perhaps in the subsequent volumes there’s more going on plot wise, but at this time I’m not going to spend the money to find out. The bland names for the countries in the fantasy world disappointed me also: Ocean World, Mountain World, Desert World.
It also seemed unrealistic that not a one of these fantasy creatures and people tried to get out of the restaurant into our world. We get a basic background of what’s going on with the character, they find a door to the restaurant and either order their favorite dish or try it for the first time. Sometimes they get takeout. That’s it, that’s how each chapter plays out.
The idea for Restaurant is creative, and I can see this could be something that teachers could use in the classroom for creative writing. Explain the concept to the students and then they have to think of their own fantasy creature or person and write a short story of what’s going on in their lives, how they come across this restaurant, and the describe the dish they ordered and ate. Describing the food alone would be a great writing exercise. This would totally be something I would have used back in my teaching English as a second or foreign language days.
Well, Nanowrimo was a bit of a bust for me, but then November, even this November is always very busy at work, so it’s difficult to find the time and brain space for writing. I did get over 10,000 words, so that’s something. Kevin and Becky Colossus are getting into serious trouble and the actors in the Etherland are realizing they are not alone there.
Readingwise, I’ve started The Last of the Mohicans and will also be starting another Regency romance. My stack of possible reads for winter is piling up, and I’m aiming at reading the entire Narnia series, finally getting to The Wings of a Falcon by Cynthia Voigt, and other books which I’ll detail in a future blog post.