Because laziness got the better of me last season, I was not able to watch dramas starring JE talents except for “MONSTERS”. So, I made a promise to try to watch all dramas this season starring JE talents.
For starters, a quick recap on Tamamori Yuta‘s “Nobunaga no Chef” episode 1…
The episode started with a fast look in the life at the kitchen, there’s cooking, chopping, and plating everywhere with uniformed chefs doing what they do best. Fast forward to a pretty woman, who we could presume as the customer, who told someone that their dish is delicious. Then, the scene changes and we can see our main character in the middle of a raging battlefield…
Ken(Tamamori Yuta) woke-up witha perplexed expression upon seeing warriors everywhere, each of them brandishing their swords fiercely as they take charge to the kill their enemies. He also see a somewhat familiar face, who is wearing a fur coat, but he cannot place where he has seen him. Perplexed and a bit scared, he accidentally decided to hold a flag for support; however, some soldiers assume that he is a threat because of that flag that he chose to hold onto. Having no weapon, Ken ran for his life until a man, wearing the same chef uniform as his, took him to the woods for a safer hiding place.
The man, named Mihara, seems aware of their current predicament after he tells Ken that they time-slip. He was surprise to learn that Ken has no recollection whatsoever of who he is, where he is from, or what he does. Miahara told him his name and where he is from (Heisei period) until some soldiers spotted them and they decided to make a run. However, luck is not on their side, Mihara got struck with an arrow, and fell to his death. Nonetheless, he told Ken to stay alive as long as possible until he could return to the Heisei era. Not exactly sure what to do, Ken keeps on running until he reach a dead-end, it’s a matter of jumping to the river or facing three soldiers who want his life. Honestly, they look like cannibals to me. He didn’t think long as he decided to make a dive-in.
On the other side of the stream, a boy was collecting sands to make a sword, he saw Ken trying to drag himself to the shore until he collapses. The boy, to whoever believes he is a boy, decided to help him and bring him to shore. As he carries him on his back, he felt something move and rise, assuming that Ken was touching his ass, he dropped him like a hot pan and say, “You can’t do that, I’m also a man!” defensively. The boy‘s eyes widen as he saw something move in Ken’s trousers, until he learned that it was nothing but an “ujimaru” (eel).
That’s the time that Ken woke-up and stared at the boy, asking him what he is doing there. The boy apologized for dropping him there due to some “misunderstanding” and told Ken that he should go with him to his house to recuperate. He also introduces himself as Natsu (Shida Mirai). However, Ken doesn’t seem to hear what Natsu was saying, he was even more preoccupied about the term Natsu used in reference to the eel (Natsu refers to “eel” as “ujimaru”) and that doesn’t seem right to Ken’s knowledge.
Upon arriving at Natsu’s house, Ken have recalled tidbits about his life where he saw the buildings during Heisei era. Ken asks Natsu about the year and if they are in Kyoto Warring State period simply because no one uses the term “ujimaru” anymore, anyone refer to eel as “unagi”. Yep, huge difference.
Natsu thinks that he must have hit his head. Natsu decided to go with Ken’s story, that his name is Ken, can’t remember anything about his family, and that he is from a town called Heisei.
Back at the battlefield, we learned that the man that Ken saw earlier was Oyakatsu aka Oda Nobunaga (Oikawa Mistuhiro), yep, THE Oda Nobunaga. After wrapping-up his battle, he asks two of his minions, Kaeda and Yoshinari, about Saru aka Hideyoshi Toyotomi (Gori) who seems to have been lost during the battle.
Back at Natsu’s house, he decided to help Ken to wear a kimono since he doesn’t know how to put one, after which, a soldier came in brandishing his sword telling Natsu and Ken that they must be on his side. Natsu, the ever brave one, even stood-up in front of Ken, which is so sweet. The soldier, whom we will assume as Saru, decided to check Natsu’s pots for some food; he tastes some leftovers and immediately throw-up, asking Natsu if those foods were fit for human consumption. Natsu told the soldier that any food is okay as long as your stomach is filled. The soldier went-on looking for food until he found an “ujimaru” and tells Natsu to cook it for him. Duh, this is the same man who asks Natsu if her food is fit for human consumption and now he is asking Natsu to cook for him…
Upon hearing the work “cook”, Ken was hit with sudden realization and tells the soldier that he could cook for him. Ken took the ujimaru, cut it, and debone the fish. Natsu and Saru were perplexed with what Ken did, they were okay with just cutting the eel into half, put it on stick, and grill it. Ken understood their ignorance since opening the eel was not done until the Edo period. For someone who doesn’t know his name, he sure knows a lot about history of cooking.
Anyway, he finished with two dishes, a grilled onion ujimaru with dried daikon and Great Burdock paella. Both Natsu and the soldier gave his food a weird look since it was done with plating and all. Natsu tasted the first dish and can’t help but exclaim as soon as the food touches her tongue. Next is Saru, who tasted the paella, and was astonished for the new food. They even asked Ken if he was working at the palace as the cook that’s why he could cook so well.
However, their merry eating did not last long as enemies began storming in. Their target is Saru, whose sword got cut, after he was so tough on using it as a weapon of fear early on. Natsu and Ken chose to run and follow the soldier’s path to the woods. While running, Ken fell together with Natsu, leaving Ken’s hand on Natsu’s right chest that made Ken say, “you’re a woman!”. Realizing that Ken’s hand is on her breast, Natsu shoved it away and pretended that she didn’t hear Ken say anything about her being a woman.
As the soldier gets surrounded by more enemies, Yoshinari and Kaede (Nobunaga’s allies) arrived to helped Saru. Ken and Natsu chose that time to run and hide behind the rocks when Ken saw the same man he saw earlier in the battlefield. An enemy soldier, who ran away from the other battle, immediately cowed in front of the said man and offer his apologies to Oda Nobunaga. That’s when Ken realized that the man is indeed Oda Nobunaga. Nobunaga was prepared to take the enemy’s life but Ken chose that time to stop him, saying that there is no reason for him to kill that man. The enemy soldier, thinking that Nobunaga’s attention wasn’t on him, chose to set his attack. However, Nobunaga is quicker and killed him swiftly, and tells Ken that “that what war is..”.
Nobunaga asks Saru aka Toyotomi Hideyoshi on who is that guy who have the gall to stop him during his killing spree (okay, I just added that part). Nobunaga proceeds in asking Ken if he is an opponent, but Natsu, the ever brave Natsu, answered for Ken and tells Nobunaga how great of a cook he is; on how he makes things that they have never seen before, and how much she would have loved for her family to taste Ken’s cooking.
Nobunaga asks Saru, the same soldier who ate Ken’s paella, if he ate Ken’s cooking and if it was good. Saru said it was delicious as if it’s not from this world. Nobunaga then turn back his attention to Ken, asking him what he believes in, since Ken is a time-slipping-amnesiac-cook, he answered that he doesn’t know. Nobunaga is clearly dissatisfied with his answer that he orders his other minions to take Ken with them.
Natsu went home feeling depressed and upon seeing the food that Ken made, an idea strikes her.
Meanwhile, Ken looks well enough even though he is imprisoned inside of the Kyoto castle. A respectable-looking man took an interest at Ken and began asking questions about whether he intend to kill Oyakata-sama aka Oda Nobunaga. Ken denied it, ofcourse, and sticks with telling the truth even about the time-slipped part. The man thinks that Ken is interesting and said that he loved to hear more if he managed to survive.
Ken was then brought to Nobunaga; Ken look at Nobunaga while he was cleaning his samurai and can’t help but recall some of the important things about Nobunaga’s life, including the person who killed him when he was so close in uniting Japan.
Nobunaga told him that he doesn’t care who Ken is or where he is from; he would continue to move forward. Nobunaga called in Yoshinari to bring-in their “captive”. Turns out, it was Natsu who got captured after trying to sneak into the palace. Natsu pleads to Nobunaga not to kill Ken and allow himself to taste Ken’s cooking. Yoshinari revealed that they caught Natsu trying to sneak-in a knife, Natsu pleaded to let Ken use the knife to cook, the knife that Natsu made for him. Natsu told Ken to fight with that knife as his own katana. Geez, can’t you get anymore obvious, it screams in love all over.XD.
Nobunaga, sensing how much Ken have moved Natsu’s heart so much, decided to give it a try by having a cooking contest. Ken vs head of Nobunaga’s kitchen- Inoue (Kitaro) that will be a battle of life and death.
The main ingredient will be duck and while Inoue have tons of assistants to help him, Ken was just himself. After deciding on what to cook, he started creating his masterpiece.
During the presentation, Inoue prepared a duck soup while Ken made a “Mallard roast”. As expected, Ken won and was ordered by Nobunaga to kill Inoue since he lost. Ken was aghast that he has to kill someone so easily and when he did not, Nobunaga told him how disappointed he is with Ken. Ken stood-up just when Nobunaga was raising the samurai, Ken was confident that Nobunaga won’t kill him for the simple reason that Nobunaga can use him, that he has value to him so he must remain alive. So, Nobunaga tells him, “then show me that you are indeed of value”.
Afterwards, Ken together with Natsu, were transported back to Ken’s cell. Ken asked Natsu why she has to pretend that she is a he. Natsu reasoned-out that it is considered bad for a woman to be a blacksmith since the “gods” of blacksmith don’t favoured women. Ken tells her that he thinks she is cute in that sense, and Natsu becomes defensive and tells Ken that she is a man, A MAN. Okay, point taken.
The next day, Nobunaga has a new task for Ken, to cook for his visitor- Luis Frois; a Portugese missionary who went to Japan to preach the good news but Nobunaga and allies were thinking that he just wanted take-over Japan. Nobunaga tells Ken to prepare something for his visitor.
While Ken was back at his cell thinking what he should do for tomorrow’s guest, the respectable-looking gentleman visited him again and tells him that if he managed to stay alive tomorrow, then it must be some sort of miracle and he might consider believing Ken’s stories. He also told Ken about Nobunaga not believing in God or religion so that Luis Frois can’t do anything about it.
The next day, Luis Frois visited the castle, who was feeling a bit down after he saw Buddha statues outside being cut into half. For someone who is supposed to be Catholic, it was surprising that he felt bad about other’s icons being ruined. Anyway, he offered a “konpeito” to Nobunaga who ate a piece. Considering that he is almost like an emperor and there is a threat to poisoning, shouldn’t he have some sort of “taste tester” in these cases?
Nevertheless, Ken arrived with his dish; he gave one for Nobunaga and one for Luis Frois. Nobunaga looks quite disappointed to see that it looks like a simple soup instead of something grand. Luis Frois starts eating and can’t help but recall the memories of his home, which is exactly what Ken is aiming at. Since Luis Frois has been away from home for a long time, he definitely would have missed home after Natsu suggested that Ken should just cook anything that is delicious since Luis Frois has been away from home for a long time.
Luis Frois got touch as the “Potage of dried cod with miso” taste exactly like Portugese’s Caldo Verde with Bacalhau (Portugese cod fish). Luis Frois got all teary and remembers what his mother have told him before he left, “whatever hardship you may encounter, don’t give up and whenever you might be, there’s always your hometown.”
After Luis Frois’s dramatic recall of his home, Nobunaga didn’t detect a lie from his words; therefore, concludes that Luis Frois is not a threat in Japan. Ken decided to use the konpeito to make a dessert, which is the Warring state version of Cotton Candy. Yum!
Nobunaga got so impressed with Ken, on how he managed to bring out the true emotions of Luis Frois that he designated him as the head of the kitchen and that if he ever leave Nobunaga, he must die. Possessive much, eh? Despite Ken’s protest that he wasn’t from that period, Nobunaga just shrugged it off.
As a reward for making Frois happy, Nobunaga gave Ken a bottle of konpeito and said, “give some to that Natsu-guy, I think that it’ll make women happy.” Very wise Nobunaga, very wise…
Afterwards, Ken encountered again that respectable-looking gentleman and told him that he is prepared to believe his stories, even asking that if Ken is really from the future then he does know if Nobunaga managed to rule Japan. Ken was silent, which gives the man the impression that Nobunaga might have failed to rule Japan. The man chose to give-up in asking questions since it won’t be fun if you know what will happen. Ken asked him who he is before he left, his answer stunned Ken, the man is Akechi Mitsuhide (Goro Inagaki). The guy who will kill Nobunaga in the future.
I wasn’t keen on watching this one because I’m not really the biggest Tamamori’s fan, but I got awe over the 11% ratings it received despite its late timeslot (11:15 PM). I mean, if it that’s late and it could still generate that kind of ratings, then it must be good. From previous experience, other dramas that start that late could be thankful with 4-5% ratings, seriously…
Anyway, putting Memoirs of a Geisha and Last Samurai aside, this is the 1st period-drama that I have ever seen. I’m not really into period dramas; I don’t even watch those in Korean. I was thinking that most period dramas were all war and dramas but Nobunaga no Chef is full of humor, you get a taste of history about Warring State period, Warring State cooking/cuisineg, and some helpful tips on cooking. It’s all in one package. Moreover, the blossoming love angle between Ken and Natsu is really cute to the core. I mean, why does Tamamori gets involved with cross-dressing girls like in Ikemen Desu ne? LOL.
What I like most about this drama is how it started. Mostly, in time-slipping dramas, we have a clear view of what happen before they time slip. In Nobunaga no Chef, it just happened. Ken just found himself in Warring State era (1568) with no recollection of what happen. What worse is that the person who knows about his situation is dead, remember Mihara-san?
It’s a good start in a sense that there are lot of questions left unanswered and more mysteries that needs solving. In short, viewers will be glued to the next episodes for more. Nice job writers.
Cooking-wise, it’s cute to see Tamamori being so expert in cooking after knowing what a bad cook he is during his Ikinari stint. LOL. I don’t know much about the cuising during that period in time, but the other characters doesn’t seem to mind if Ken is serving them food like paella, Mallard roast, and Potage…
Acting-wise, Tamamori is cute, Shida Mirai is awesome, and Oikawa Mitsuhiro indeed look like the part of Nobunaga. I think that Tamamori have matured compare to his earlier acting projects and hoping that he gets better.
For first impressions, this is definitely worth watching.