Dorayaki, Sushi, or Noodles? 3 Delicious Films to Watch
Who doesn’t like a soft, moist, fluffy dorayaki? Or a warm bowl of ramen noodles? Or some fresh, tender, delicately cut sushi? Well, your next cinema meal is ready (and it’s not vegetarian). The three films in this list serve an irresistible dish with a well-executed recipe: characters dedicated to their craft, mouth-watering close-ups of food being prepped and served, and most importantly a mindful approach towards the ingredients and the cooking techniques. So let’s address the question that is echoing in your mind since you read the title: dorayaki, sushi, or noodles?
Fluffy Dorayaki Served in the Touching ‘Sweet Bean’
A Japanese friend once told me that there are two types of people: those who love the traditional red bean paste and those who *drum roll* do not. As simplistic as it might sound, it is true that the typical sweet red bean paste, a common filling used in many Japanese sweets, has a strange taste that might leave some taste buds disappointed. But that’s not the case for anyone who has watched Naomi Kawase’s ‘Sweet Bean.’
Even though the Japanese pancake dorayaki seems to be the food-protagonist, the real hero in this film is the truly magnificent red bean paste. And in ‘Sweet Bean’ you can see first-hand the cooking procedure in all of its artistry, executed by the old lady Mrs. Tokue (played by the veteran Japanese actress Kirin Kiki). Mrs. Tokue knows the secret to the perfect red bean paste. From patiently waiting until the beans boil to serving the bean paste, she always strives for the tastiest red bean paste. With the wonderful cinematography elevating the representation of food in this film, the only question at the end is: has dorayaki ever enjoyed more glory than it does in this film?
Sushi at Its Finest In ‘Jiro Dreams of Sushi’
If you were asked to describe Japan in three words, chances are Sushi will be one of them (with the rest probably being Tokyo and anime, at least for me - couldn’t be more stereotypical, I guess). ‘Jiro Dreams of Sushi’ takes advantage of the Western romanticization of the traditional Japanese dish to tell the story of Jiro, a chef who has dedicated his entire life to sushi, to the perfectly executed and tastiest sushi.
It may sound at first like a biographical documentary, but the real hero here is the sushi. Being one of the most widely-eaten foods across the country with a long and rich history, sushi is treated with care, respect, and with the precision of an art form. From close-ups of nigiri sushi brushed with soy sauce to montages of skilful food prep, ‘Jiro Dreams of Sushi’ crafts a mouth-watering portrait of the famous Japanese dish, with the beauty and frustration surrounding it.
‘Tampopo’ or the Ultimate Noodle Slurping Experience
Have you ever had a bowl of ramen? Do you actually know how to properly eat ramen? First, you have to observe the bowl, savor its aromas. Then you have to caress the surface of the pork with the chopstick tips to express your affection. Don’t forget to apologize to the pork by saying ‘see you soon.’ No, I didn’t make this up. That’s the advice given by an old man, who ‘has studied noodles for 40 years,’ at the beginning of the legendary ‘Tampopo.’
Juzo Itami’s film is not just about the perfect bowl of classic ramen the characters strive to cook (and eat). It is life seen through the lens of food and the enjoyment it provides. How sensual can an egg yolk feel? How soft can a peach get? How unique can each bowl of ramen be? As film critic Michael Sragow has pointed out, ‘Tampopo’ creates a ‘culinary empire of the senses.’ And it’s true, food never looked as good and sexy as it does in this film.