This show is not subtle. At all. In a good way, though.
We’re getting into Soma’s first proper Shokugeki which of course means that everyone’s gotta be in good form. Including Ikumi Mito, our opponent for the week.
I’m an equal opportunities perv. If you’re going to be shameless, be shameless to everyone. I’m so happy that Shokugeki no Soma is doing this right, because not only do we get tits from Ikumi – we also get more Satoshi Isshiki in just an apron shaking his butt (or so I’m told).
The Shokugeki, by its nature – is an event open to the entire school to watch. So it stands to reason that Soma Yukihira, who is the talk of the school for what he did in his transfer student speech, would attract a crowd desperate to see him fail. This is something that clearly worries Megumi Tadokoro and Kanichi Konishi of the Donburi Research Society because not only are the odds stacked against them in terms of ingredients, but the crowd is actively hostile against them. Save for a few of the Polar Star Dorm residents, the crowd is really wanting Soma to fail and lose. On top of this, Erina Nakiri comes along to watch this Shokugeki, because why wouldn’t she? Ikumi’s assured her victory.
This really doesn’t bother Soma, because customers in the diner Yukihira are far scarier to cook for. Now that is interesting in itself, because we’re getting to to the real reason why Soma agreed to go to Totsuki in the first place. He fought and defended Yukihira’s honour on a day in, day out basis with his father. It was his castle. But now he has become a free agent, so to speak. As a result, he no longer has to defend anybody’s honour but his own.
Which means that he’s free in a way, to be as reckless as he pleases and bend the rules, because the only person it impacts is himself.
Ikumi Mito vs Soma Yukihira. Meat Donburi. Let’s go.
Ikumi, true to form has brought the highest grade of meat – the A5 beef from her family business. Her donburi is a masterclass in handling a superb piece of meat, which is decadent and rich. Erina notes that it isn’t Ikumi’s raw strength in slicing and preparing huge slab of meat which is why she is the best at the school at it. Oh no, it isn’t that at all. It’s the fact that Ikumi is actually very sensitive in the way that she does it. She can tell the internal temperature of the meat after it’s been sealed and put in the oven to cook merely by stabbing it with a thin metal needle and putting that to her lips. Her fingers trace the grain of the meat so she slices it without causing stress to the muscle. She’s closer to a pianist with the amount of care and finesse she uses. In short, Ikumi is a woman who is in touch with her inner sensuality to make the meat she cooks with sing as loud as it possibly can. Which isn’t surprising.
Ikumi Mito’s A5 Japanese Beef Roti Don
The point of Ikumi Mito’s don is the meat. It is beautifully displayed in a flower shape, showing the fine marbling and grain of the A5 beef. As it was just cooked in butter and salt, there is nothing but the taste of beef. This is further accentuated by the fact that Ikumi managed to cook fried rice in beef fat and butter. It’s all meat and nothing else. The judges were blown away and commented on how superb everything was. (Side note: If you’re ever interested in wondering how this may taste like, Mamou in Serendra and Rockwell have something pretty close, if you ever want something for a fancy celebration.)
Soma on the other hand, if past seasons are anything to go by – is a conductor. Sure Ikumi may be the most competent soloist in an orchestra, but that’s all she knows how to play. Soma is more concerned with the philosophy of the donburi – which is to be a complete meal in one bowl. While Ikumi was making a great show of cooking her lavish A5 beef in butter, Soma was chopping up loads and loads of onions. When we get a glimpse of the meat he’s bought, he managed to get beef sirloin on offer from the supermarket. Ikumi’s got a grand piano and Soma’s brought a Casio keyboard. We know that he’s going to make a Chaliapin steak don, but all of a sudden it seems kinda… pedestrian. So how is Soma going to turn it up against Ikumi’s fabulous Beef Roti Don?
Soma Yukihira’s Chaliapin Steak Don
Fabulously. But there was no doubt about that. The Chaliapin Steak Don is wonderfully balanced and complex, with the meat being tender soft due to the amount of onions involved in its cooking. While Ikumi’s dish may have blown the judges out of their seats, Soma’s dish is keeping them in theirs, while they completely finish his donburi. (If you want to try making a Chaliapin steak yourself, the great Youtube channel Cooking With Dog have uploaded a video on how to do so. Less likely to break the bank.)
And that’s where Ikumi and Soma differ, because Soma makes the compelling kind of food which makes you eat it down to the very last grain of rice. Ikumi’s was too rich, too strong and too overpowering and didn’t fully capture the full philosophy of the donburi rice bowl. Soma’s may have been made with cheaper ingredients, but it fully encapsulated a full dining experience in a bowl. Ikumi only admitted defeat, when she tasted the bowl and found the nourishing warmth of it unlocking memories from her childhood. So not only did Soma’s food made her admit defeat, it also made her more accepting of that kind of sensitivity without needing the brassiness to all the time.
Which means of course, Ikumi is now infatuated with Soma.
Oh come on, it is a shounen anime.
So Don RS gets saved, it gets better facilities and Ikumi is made to eat humble pie while now dealing with this cumbersome new crush. Which is great, if it weren’t for the fact that Soma isn’t actually a part of Don RS now, leaving poor Ikumi to beat up Konishi because you don’t con her like that.
Episode 7 Rating: 5/5. This is what Shokugeki no Soma is about. It’s a mix of not taking itself seriously, being serious about food and relating clearer than ever what the show is about – food is a personal experience. Good food will always be an experience, regardless of the price of the ingredients or how flashy it is. Not to mention there’s a good dose of actual honest to god cookery.
Episode 7 Gastronomy Factor: 5/5. Innovative. Brilliant. Uses cooking techniques from both traditional French and Japanese Western influenced yoshoku styles.
Next week will be a double episode as I review episodes 8 and 9 together.
Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma is broadcast every Friday in Japan, with a simulcast available on Crunchyroll the same day at 8:25pm IST.