There’s no shortage of lifestyle and cooking shows that feature a bit of Japanese cuisine on Netflix. You’ll find Western shows with a foreign host who explores Japanese food from an outsider’s point of view. However, nothing compares to the enjoyment of watching Japanese characters enjoy food in a raw, local setting—salarymen gathering around a little pub, late-night workers treading red-lit alleys, retirees rediscovering local restaurants.
Below, we’ve listed down food-centric Japanese dramas on Netflix that will make you drool in an instant! But also, these shows can help you learn about local Japanese food from Japanese people themselves. Stock up on food and dining vocabulary from these shows as you learn how to speak Japanese for your next trip to Japan!
Midnight Diner is the perfect show to watch on a laidback weekend evening. The premise is very simple: a small counter-style eatery caters to different personalities that emerge at midnight. It offers very simple dishes that are arguably far from Michelin-caliber but are nonetheless special. What makes it special is the mysterious fatherly figure at the center of the counter, who is only identified as “Masta” (Master) as his patrons call him. In every episode, we learn a lesson from him and his unique diners.
The dishes can be so simple yet intriguing, from butter rice to omelet rice and various kinds of ramen. Watching the show, you can imagine just how much you can find and experience in the smallest of alleyways in Tokyo.
Just like Midnight Diner, Samurai Gourmet is also headlined by an adorable old man, this time a timid retiree, Takeshi Kasumi. After retirement, he sets out on a new quest to rediscover the flavors of his neighborhood. Well, despite the title, Takeshi himself is not a samurai. But rather, it’s his alternate persona that gets unleashed during his gourmet adventures.
His adventures can turn into misadventures and then lead to other discoveries. And this is what makes the show fun to watch. It also has little slice-of-life elements that give you a glimpse into the life of ordinary Japanese people.
Kantaro: The Sweet Tooth Salaryman
From a retired worker in Samurai Gourmet, we now have a younger salaryman in Kantaro: The Sweet Tooth Salaryman. On the outside, Ametani Kantaro is your typical diligent Japanese worker. However, he has a secret obsession with sweet stuff, and he maintains an anonymous blog dedicated to it, a totally different side unbeknown to his co-workers.
The drama has very unique, eccentric storytelling and there can never be one dull moment while watching—Kantaro has a bizarre way of expressing his sugary delight! Also, what’s great about the show is that it features real-life shops around Tokyo, so get ready to note the shops for your own future dessert escapade in Japan!
In Izakaya Bottakuri, two sisters lead a small family restaurant in downtown Tokyo. It’s another relaxing show to watch where you can enjoy various Japanese dish preparations complemented by characters’ life stories and wisdom. The show focuses on imaginative food and sake pairings. The sisters behind the counter prepare mouthwatering dishes that match well with sake, from savory dishes to even snacks and desserts. The possibilities are endless!
The Curry Songs
The Curry Songs is more like your typical Japanese drama, with more focus on the character’s narrative. It follows Amasawa Yoichiro, who struggles in life alone after his parents were thought to have abandoned him. He is obsessed with Japanese curry, and this dish becomes a major element that holds the story together. In every episode, we see him trying out different curry dishes with different kinds of people, eventually leading him to revelations about his life.
Do these shows make you daydream about a food trip around Japan? Prepare yourself for communicating with Japanese foodies and locals with this Japanese for Beginners Program by The Study – Enderun College!