Soma’s dish is focused on flavor as well as fun although technologically advanced. He also distinctively suited because his food is so great to eat the topic, which ends in an entirely gratuitous bare shot of his female adversary. At least she ’s not the only one — when he’s eaten a wonderful dish the older leader of the school additionally disrobes at random. (And he’s rather well-muscled for this type of patriarch.)
Most of this volume, though, is dedicated to country girl Megumi’s battle against tough guy Ryo. The two have to absolutely select and join broth, noodles, and toppings.
Megumi is finally developing some trust in her powers, thank goodness, and she’s choosing hometown fixings that play to her strengths. Megumi’s contest demonstrates the merit of co-operation, learning from others, and being nice to other chefs, in contrast to Ryo’s view of the kitchen as battleground, where Soma’s story demonstrated the value of emotion in cooking. She decides at the appropriate dish to match her level of ability, demonstrating a maturity that impresses the judges.
The last chapter sets up the assembly that concludes in Food Wars: Shokugeki no Soma volume 10 (out February 2), with a hamburger conflict (“any cooked patty sandwiched between two buns”) between a “spice master” and a “medicative chef”, focused on the healing properties of food. First the reader has to get through a couple of pages of a live turtle being butchered. Not the right ending note for the squeamish.
Against the turtle burger is placed a combination of kebab meat, kofta, and pita, in a umami-based exotic twist on an American classic. I’m not sure I buy the lesson that a good burger requires both “some kind of sauce” and pickles to be great, but the descriptions of the dishes are mouth-watering, as always.
That battle is remarkably short, in order to get to the last quarterfinal: a showdown in which the loser must hand over his knife, the tool of his trade. It’s a dessert battle, and after three other showdowns, layering on a personal grudge is the authors’ (story by Yuto Tsukuda; art by Shun Saeki) way of keeping the reader’s adrenaline up. One competitor is Italian, out to protect his brother’s reputation; the other is a stalker who wins contests by observing what his opponent will make and making the same thing, only better. It’s an odd tactic, but effective, so far. And boy, I really wanted to taste that semifreddo cake, which sounded amazing.
The stalker is also planning to go up against Soma, who’s working on a Western-style entree. There’s a new character who’s amusing, a wannabe reporter who’s shadowing Soma for the never-before-mentioned school newspaper. With all the competition going on, it’s nice to have someone for him to talk to that he isn’t going to have to cook against. (The publisher provided review copies.)