Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

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The Manga Cookbook has been out for a while, but I have a copy to give away courtesy of the publisher, so here’s a short review. While this is not a bento cookbook, it has a few bento-friendly recipes in it. Besides, the cute manga format will probably appeal to many Just Bento readers (which is why this review is here on Just Bento rather than on Just Hungry).

This is a little paperback, with several easy Japanese recipes in manga format. (Just in case you don’t know, manga are Japanese comics. Wait a second…if you’re reading this site, how could you not know manga!?! ^_^) Instructional mangas are quite common in Japan, but I don’t know of any in English besides this one (though I bet someone will tell me there are many more). The recipes are introduced by a cute manga girl and a rather hyper animal character that is supposed to be a fox, which looks rather like it belongs in the Pikachu world. The manga, and the recipes, look to be written in English rather than translated from Japanese. If they are translated, they’ve done a really good job of it. In addition, the book reads from left to right rather than the more usual (for Japanese manga) right to left.

As for the recipes, provided you can get a hold of the ingredients (and they do not stray too far from the basics like rice, soy sauce, and so on), anyone should be able to make all of them easily, even kids (with adult supervision in some cases). There are color and black and white photographs of the recipes to refer to, besides the manga instruction. Most of the recipes are standard-issue Japanese classics, like onigiri, ebifurai (breaded fried shrimp), kushi dango (sweet rice dumplings on a stick) and so on. A couple are not exactly standard, but that doesn’t mean they don’t belong in the book. All of the recipes are of the type that appeal to kids - or at least, Japanese kids. No strongly flavored or strange ‘adult’ food here. For the charaben enthusiast there are nice manga step-by-steps for making things like usagi ringo (apple bunnies) and boiled eggs with faces on them.

The only major quibble I have with this book is that about 24 pages out of the stated 144 total are essentially blank! These have a photocopy-like image of a page ripped out of a notebook that say “Cook’s Notes” on top. I’ve seen this in other cookbooks too, but not for so many pages proportionate to the overall page count. I can’t help but wonder if they somehow ran out of money or something and couldn’t afford to fill up the rest of the book with more recipes and manga. Another, lesser quibble is that the photographs are not of very good quality. But I think that this little book is still a good value though (around $11 from Amazon.com). It would make a great present for a child or teenager who is into manga or anime and is curious about the ‘weird’ Japanese food that he or she sees in them, or an adult who wants a friendly introduction to some Japanese home cooking recipes.

Book details

The giveaway rules

All you have to do to enter the giveaway is to leave a comment on this post. As always, to make it more interesting, let us know the one Japanese dish that you haven’t made yet that you are most curious about trying to make. The deadline for leaving your comment/entry is 23:59:59 CET on Sunday, November 22nd. I’ll try to get the book to you before Christmas.

(Note: The giveaway is now closed. Thank you to everyone for entering! I’ll announce the winner shortly.)

For more bento recipes, ideas and tips, subscribe to Just Bento via your newsreader or by email (more about subscriptions).

And visit our sister site, Just Hungry for great Japanese home recipes and more.

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Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

That book loots like a heap of fun.
I've been dabbling in Japanese and other asian cooking styles for a little while. A dish I'm yet to make is tempura vegetables. I'm not quite game to try it yet and have a heap of soggy vegies that didn't work or even worse burnt...

Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

What Japanese dish haven't I made - how about if I just tell you the ONE that I have! :) After reading and reading on your site (I LOVE IT!) I made the beef saboro recipe. It is awesome! My husband said it is his new favorite. I made one batch and divided it in half. The first part I tried to put inside rice balls, but something wasn't quite right with my rice. The second batch I used in stir fry w/mixed veggies over brown rice. It was so good.

I have heard good reviews about this cookbook and would love it! It's actually in my amazon wish list - I'm getting it one way or another, but winning it would be really cool. :)

Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

Definitely mochi. I've had them in Japan and I really liked them a lot

Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

I love all kinds of Japanese cooking--the discovery of cheap boxes of tenpura mix have led to the discovery that my boyfriend can actually like fish! ^^ (although he dips his fish-sticks in ketchup... some things never change lol) I also make okonomiyaki for lunch if I have a cabbage around. Just recently I finally used up a red cabbage, and red cabbage okonomiyaki will get you some looks from others who see it.
One thing I've been wanting to make and mysteriously haven't yet is miso soup... I got a small tub of light miso a while ago, but haven't really used it yet. Maybe once it snows I'll feel more like soup, who knows.
Thanks for posting so many recipes and how-tos and stories! For once I feel like studying Japanese wasn't a total waste ;)

Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

I'm just starting with bento lunches. All the recipes are new to me. The sweet beans sound good, so that's what the recipe I'll try.

Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

well i always want to try make some Curry Udon and taiyaki. i would love to try it and making it. i also want to try some more new recipes. i just love trying new recipe.

Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

Omg what a waste. 24 blank pages x__x The art looks really cute though lol. Uhm, as for a dish. Ever since you posted that lotus root recipe (I forgot what it was called) i've been really dying to try it but i cant seem to find lotus root at the asian supermarket by my place. There was something that looked similar to it but the name started with like an 'n'....

Or i'd like to make mochi. It looks waaaay cute and reminds me of this thing i had once. Called Daifuku? They look the same but i dont really know if they're the same lol.

Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

I would love to try to make botamochi as I have discovered my mad love for red bean paste (thanks to the delicious buns at China Pastry, far too conveniently located near my house). I honestly don't know if I will be able to find mochimai here though, but this would certainly be a fun thing to attempt if I can get my hands on some.

Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

Wow, sounds like a very entertaining read! I've been trying to do some bento, but so far I've worked with ingredients that aren't very easy to find here in America (Was from Asia, where it was easy to get oyster sauce, miso, so on and so forth). Octopus sausages sound too cute!

Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

I know that the last person to comment also said Okonomiyaki, but that's my pick. Looking at recipes it looks like it would be dirt-simple; I've just never gotten around to doing it. The reason why that's my choice is because Ranma 1/2 was my first manga, way back when I was 13. :D cheers if you get the reference~

Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

Onion Tuna bowl - I saw this dish being prepared and served in a show about economical bargain meals episode from the Soko Ga Shiritai series at a Shinbashi Sushi shop in Ginza. The draw for 600 yen per bowl dish is that the tuna sushi tastes like they've used expensive blue-fin tuna for their sushi mix but really,the chef's secret is using the fat base found directly behind the blue-fin tuna's eye (cheap to procure),melt the fat and mix it in with the cheaper tuna meat. Awesome and looks really delicious. Alas living in Malaysia, getting my hands on a blue fin tuna head is near impossible next to zero. *sigh*

Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

As much as I love to eat Japanese food, it amazes me how artistic some of the dishes can be! I'd like to make some seaweed salad one day! I don't quite remember what was in the potato salad I had in Japan, but it was the most delicious potato salad I've tasted and would love to replicate it :D

Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

I would love this book so that I could cook something. Something being everything in it probably. For the last 15 years I've been cooking for my mother who doesn't like much, and for the first time I have my own kitchen where I can cook everything (which can be done in two and one half of a year, right?). For the past year I've been anticipating being able to live in a campus apartment with a working kitchen. It finally happened! Now, with the powers of my pots and pans combined I can form awesome Japanese food from that cookbook. I won't name any particular (lies, I want to make rice balls, dumplings, and anything vegetarian on this blog) recipes I want to try, but I will say that one of the biggest advantages will be making awesome bento for the library on nights the cafeteria serves celery failure wraps disguised as chicken salad wraps that no one should suffer through.

And, every time I cook tofu something goes horribly wrong so I need to fix that. Quickly. I'm very hungry. I can only eat apple bunnies minus the bunny for so long.

Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

After seeing it in anime and manga often, I would like to learn how to make takoyaki. It always looks so delicious!

Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

Cute book! I have been wanting to make oyakodon. It looks like a simple dish, but I never got a chance to try making it. I think the hardest part would controlling the time and temperature so that I can create that nice, slightly-runny egg mixture instead of turning it into just an "omelet on rice" dish.

Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

I haven't made sushi yet because i am allergic to some fish...but as soon as I am done with my allergy tests i'm going wild!!!

Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

Yay This sounds very fun =]
A Japanese dish that I've been wanting to make but have not yet tried to make...:
Shrimp Tempura or the Curry Bread... or the Castella cake or korokke or ramen/soba/or udon noodles from scratch...
If a recipe not on either site yet... I kind of want to experiment with the cream breads... or the ones filled with noodles... (then again, I'm not really sure if that's a Japanese dish...)
It seems I have problems with making things that are fried... or bread type things... the batter comes out wrong... or it doesn't fry right... or the bread becomes dry too quickly

Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

I am so keen to try the mochi "sushi" in the last post - it looks incredible and the berries and fruit are just so jewel-like.

Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

Something along the lines of messing around with rice makes onigiri very tempting for me. I've never tried those, I have to admit. My bento rice is always just it's usualy grainy white self... I'd call it "elegant purism". Yeah, that's it. I'm not just scared by a bit so steaming rice, it's all about the art of purism. *nods*

It's so nice of you to give books away to us common blog followers! :)

Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

I really want to try to make mochi! Never tried anything dessert like from Japan before, so that would be an interesting experiment.

Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

I really want to make tamagoyaki but I never seem to get around to it! I also keep looking at this book on amazon, trying to decide whether to buy it or not!

Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

actually, I've never tried Tempura... such a classic, but somehow I always stay away from anything deep-fried, not sure why.
(and how I loved Tempura in Japan...)

Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

Wow, what a great site. I found you by accident because I typed into google the words: ensoku outing. Google sent me to your blog about going on ensoku as a child to the local mountain and about how you liked onigiri with umeboshi and salmon the best. I taught a little afterschool Japanese class for children in Pennsylvania and I made them onigiri with umeboshi and seaweed. They loved the seaweed and hated the umeboshi! I was surprised because I though it would be the opposite.

Anyway, I just bought My Japanese Coach to improve my vocabulary and kanji. I always put all the vocabulary words in google to see what interesting things I find out about the words because it helps me remember them. For example, when I learned the word minshushugi (democracy) I looked it up on google and found out that a lot of political things end in shugi so I learned isolationism (koritsushugi) and communism (kyosanshugi) and capitalism (shihonshugi). I am finding out a lot of interesting things about Japan this way. I am in lesson 151 and one of the vocabulary words is ensoku. So that is how I found your website. Now I will never forget the word ensoku!

Also, I love Japanese food. It is my favorite food from everything on the planet. If I can only eat one kind of food from all of the kinds for my whole life, then I would pick Japanese food. I always liked it. My favorite things are sukiyaki, osekihan, green tea ice cream, green tea cake, green tea candy, umeboshi candy, umeboshi, aji nori furikake, salmon sushi, tamago sushi, tofu and clam in miso, kare raisu, mabo dofu on rice, mochi in hot soup in the winter, and pumpkin stew.

I really like the Japanese bento. I would like to have a free book!! My students would have fun looking at it. They like manga. Maybe there will be a nice recipe in there for me? My fiance loves it when I make him kare raisu. Maybe the book could teach me something else interesting to make.

Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

I am sorry...I forgot to tell you what I would like to know how to make. I would like to be able to make dango. I like dango and I can't find it where I am living now. Do I have to pick only one thing? If I can say another thing, too, then I would like to make okonomiyake because I can't find it here, either anywhere. There are no Japanese restaurants here anywhere. Not even any Japanese grocery stores! It is terrible to live here! I have to order Japanese ingredients over the internet, it is too expensive.

Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

I've tried natto few times, but still can't stand it. Maybe I shouldn't just eat it with rice, but cook some nice dish to go with it :)

Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

I started making bento for my daughter this year for school. She loves it, though for the longest time most of her friends swore up and down she was part Japanese because of this (this was fixed when I gave a Plains First Nations presentation and explained she was precisely 1/4th First Nations, and the rest Caucasian). I am also slowly introducing different foods into her diet, more or less as I get brave enough to try them. Onigiri has been fun for the both of us, yakitori was a hit, as were the dumplings, and rice never fails. And of course, she loves Japanese candy. Her favorite has been the Sakura Candies.

I know it seems silly, but I have been really wanting to make miso soup, something that I haven't been brave enough for yet. I am have been terrified if messing it up. Same thing goes for the tamagoyaki. Simple dishes, but I find I usually manage to fail the worst on those.

Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

Currently, I would have to say takoyaki, I have the pan, but I just haven’t gotten around to doing it. I would also like to make a tamagoyaki that doesn’t just taste good, but also looks nice, my technique’s not quite there yet ;)

Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

I really would like to make mochi ice cream. It's one of my boyfriend's favorite Japanese dishes and where I live you can only find the red bean flavor at expensive restaurants. And now for courage to try!

Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

I would love to make Takoyaki. That's the only restaurant we ate at twice during my week in Japan and it was just that good. Though there are a few tofu dishes I would like to try to recreate from the tofu restaurant too and they don't take a special dish. I've tried making okonomiyaki at home too but it didn't turn out so great.

Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

I've always wanted to make either a salmon furikake or fried gyoza. I've always love your site and I'm always checking up to make something for my 2 year old or my husband who is in the Navy and doesn't really have time to go get something to eat at lunch. Bento's are really fun for our play groups we have and we are asked about them all the time. Thank you for making this website and all the great recipes on here!!!

Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

im only 13, but i want to become a chef. The japanese food i really want to make is okinomiyaki, i know what to get and every thing but i cant find it also i cant get it from the computer because im ... broke XD (same with all the japanese food i want to make).

Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

I'd like to try my hand at making kanten. I once had some kiwikan, and it was amazing.
I'd also like to try making tempura, but I worry that I may burn something down.

Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

I would like to learn how to make takoyaki

Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

Oh, wow! I'd love to learn to make currypan, actually.

Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

This book looks really cute! I'm always happy to have more Japanese cookbooks, and the fact that's in done with manga is an added bonus. manga ga daisuki kara, kono ryouri no hon ga hoshii desu. Anyway, my favorite Japanese dish is sukiyaki, (the more traditional, fondue-style way of doing it). I really want to make this recipe, and have a bunch of people over to share it, but I lack the necessary equipment, such as a hot plate. I also really want to make that fruit nigiri in the last post! It looks so tasty, but I don't think I can get my hands on mochi ingredients. *sigh* We don't have enough oriental food markets in Colorado.
Kyandasu

Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

Amazing! I would love a copy of this! My girlfriend and I cook Korean and Japanese recipes all the time, from Kimbap and Dukbokki to Okonomiyaki and Hiyashi Chuuka. It is all so delicious! A few extra recipes to keep us going wouldn't hurt though, especially if one is of a Japanese curry. Despite all my efforts and research, I still haven't been able to properly duplicate the original.

Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

I have gotten a chance to flip through the cookbook mentioned, but per usual, didn't have enough money at the time to pick it up. I can't remember if it has a recipe for Daifuku in it, but I would love to try it. Or Moochi. Or Yakisoba... darn it, now I'm hungry.

Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

I've been trying to make onigiri. ^^ I sort of fail at it though....I will succeed one day though!

Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

I've been a bit interested in this book since I saw it online and am glad that you were able to hold a real copy in your hands and attest things like picture quality and the "chef's notes" section.

I would probably make things like ebi furai or the dango, which are things I haven't made yet, but would if I had a book with dedicated recipes to them (though they aren't needed).

Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

I am just dying to make Potato oyaki, but I never seem to have any mashed potatoes left over. (We always seem to eat exactly as much as I make.) I will plan ahead next time so I have somewhere tasty to stuff some soboro.

Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

I don't know how to cook so I have never done any Japanese dishes! But I would love to learn how to make sushi pizza!

Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

I'm dying to try making homemade senbei. Now to find a recipe...

Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

So very very cute. The think I have been putting off but really want to cook is a rolled omlette. They are so tasty, I just have horrible luck with eggs so i've been afraid to try it.

Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

I'm new to Japanese food, though I do try to attempt it at times. (How my mom must hate me for making her sit through all of my antics. Hehe.) I would love to try and make ichigo daifuku or dango. =)

Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

Omelet rice. I always wanted to try it for breakfast or a meal one day, but I've never figured out when to mix the rice in the egg (I end up burning everything...).

Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

I would love to have this book, because it's a manga and because it's a cookbook. I am in love with dango, especially anko dango but I have never been very good with (glutinous) rice flour and I'd really like to try the recipe of the book.

greetings

Kecily

Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

I think I saw that in the UK Magazine Neo. They actually have their own little recipe every month!

Umm... something I haven't made yet? Hmmm... anything Japanese kabocha squash. I'm in the UK and I've been trying to find it for ages but all the farms either deliver a mixed squash box OR won't deliver at all and I have to go to the Wilds of the Cotswalds or Powys or some odd place just to find it. :/

Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

I would love to have a copy of this book.

One Japanese dish I have been really wanting to try to make is Chawanmushi, that savory egg custard dish that involves mixing in pieces of chicken, fish cake, shrimp, and ginko nut.

Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

I looove Japanese food. Whenever I see something unfamiliar but tasty in an anime, I usually go look it up to see if I can obtain the ingredients needed to make it. I've not yet gotten around to Okonomiyaki, though. I do want to try that.

Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

I love chawan-mushi, but have never made it. I think the cold weather in the Bay Area is a perfect motive for making it.