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.)

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

181 comments

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Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

Lately I've been getting really into making bentos for myself in the mornings :3 I was a bad cook, but your sites have inspired me to start cooking more and now I'm slowly able to make more and more for myself. I bring bentos to school every day and I've been noticing all the time that I have more energy. (Usually I couldn't think of anything so I would just eat a croissant and sunflower seeds, or how my dad likes to put it: bird food.) The only problem is that I find my bento a bit large as I'm a smaller framed person and can't always finish it and feel bad wasting the yummy food XD Two recipes I would really like to try are carrot and burdock kimpura (but I've been having trouble finding burdock....but the recipe looks absolutely delicious and since I love the taste of carrots I would love to try it!!!) and some form of either dango or mochi (so come the holidays I could make some kind of sweets to give out to my friends. Something original for christmas ;3

Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

I wouldn't mind trying out making pickled vegetables...but I don't think I can be bothered TBH. =P

Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

Ooh, I've got this on my wishlist on J-list.

I'm looking forward to making kushi dango, since I've never had it and it sounds like it would either be delicious or really disgusting. Which I think is how I end up with most Japanese foods. :)

Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

I found this blog to furikake posts, so that's what I'd like to make some time! I love furikake but never made it myself. From your posts it doesn't seem too hard.

Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

I would like to make onigiri or dango! Okay, onigiri may not be the most sophisticated or fanciest choice, but I've seen so many adorable edible crafts where people put facial expressions on the onigiri, or shape them to look like animals or anime characters. Not only do they look like they would be fun to make, but I think they are a sweet way to show someone you care. I would love to put a smile a friend or family member's face with one of those. Of course, they might not have the heart to eat anything that is smiling back at them, eh? ^_^; As for dango, one of my favourite anime series is Clannad. The female main character, Furukawa Nagisa, loves the Dango Daikazoku, and they play a very important symbolic role in Clannad. So as geeky as it seems, I'd like to try making a bento that is partially inspired by that theme.

Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

I kinda want to try takoyaki, but I don't want to buy the pan...

Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

I just saw this cook & wondered what it was like. Thanks for the review.
My one dish that I have been dying to make is Okonomiyaki. I love this egg/cabbage pancake.

Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

Takoyaki! I would love to make those delicious octopus balls.

Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

I love this site and have been lurking here for a little while now. I've followed and successfully made several of the foods or suggestions from here (and converted my boyfriend into liking bento! a brill way to use up the tons of vegetables from the summer, and i can unleash my creative side while cooking~ ) like the tamagoyaki and the negimayaki.

I'm hoping to give sushi a try, possibly with an experimental egg or lettuice coating as I'm not very hot on the thought of eating seaweed. But the next dish I really want to try is karaage! The photos make me drool. ;-;

The book looks and sounds cute, although the blank pages sounds more like they tried to pad it out a bit. Simple recipes can't be a bad thing, I start to get lost when they call for odd ingrediants or complicated instructions. :p

Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

I don't really cook Japanese food. Maybe that will change, but I'd really like to try okonomiyaki.

bgcchs(at)yahoo(dot)com

Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

i would love to make tepanyaki, but i dont seem to get a cheap pan here in my country. i tasted them once and i still crave for them after 6 years :D

Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

oh also takoyaki! would love some!

Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

That sounds pretty cool, actually. Gonna put this on my Wish List as it could be a great way to try some new dishes.

Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

when I cook, i don't care much of appearance but look forward to get the cookbook to try pretty bentos!!!!

Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

I know so little about Japanese cooking that I don't even know what I'd like to try to make. I love to cook and it would be fun to try something new

Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

Looks like a fun book; at the very least a good gift.
I've never made a chikuzen ni but now I got some taro, lotus root, and carrots to get rid of, so it's a perfect match. And lots of Fuyu persimmons that are softening up - wonder if there's any good Japanese dessert recipes that use them for baking?

Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

I would love to make the fruit suishi but I have a child with severe allergies to berries. Another one I would like to make is the summer pasta salad with the chick peas. I love this website, your recipes are wonderful. My hubbies favorite is the omelet.

Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

1st thing would be Takoyaki!!! I love love love takoyaki..haven't tried to make it yet because I dont have takoyaki little rounds pan -__-"
2nd will be Wagashi. It is because of watching Japanese drama such as 'Sweet Ambition' and 'Ando Natsu' about Japanese traditional confectionery. I think it's amazing and more like a work of art.

Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

I would love to get a book like this! I've been dying to make takoyaki. Plus...IT'S A TOTALLY KAWAII COOKBOOK! (I've tried about 5 different methods and recipes for mochi, some how it always ends up being a slimy ball of... well...I really don't know what. :P) It sounds really cool. I've never seen a book like this in the States. And the recipes look simple too! Good luck to whoever wins it! ^_^ 

Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

Okonomiyaki is the thing I want most to make. I've bought the ingredients several times and then never get up the guts to give it a try! I'd also like to be able to make tempura correctly! It's never quite right when I make it... I think it's because of my desire to see it turn brown even though I know better!

Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

I would like to try and make Kuwayaki Pork Donburi

Best wishes from Germany

Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

A Manga Cookbook? What a fabulous idea!!

To be honest, I haven't made much more than sushi for japanese dishes. Although I always enjoy veggie tempura whenever I got to the restaurant. Maybe I will try that sometime >.<

Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

Oo! This looks so ~kawaii! I absolutely love manga, and Japanese cooking as well. It's different, unique, and fun. Hm... one recipe I'd want to make... probably something with miso, like miso soup or such.

P.S. - I made onigiri for lunch yesterday, and thanks a bunch, Maki! Your tips helped me make superb onigiri.

Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

I always wanted to try out Okonomiyaki ^-^
Also I'm a bento newbie so I'm always looking for new ideas to make better bentos!

Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

I love the cover of this cute book!

I would love make shiruko or mochi!

Thanks for the great giveaway!

Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

I'd have to say miso soup...I know it's simple, but I've never made it at home. Thanks for hosting such a great giveaway!

Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

My 18 yr old is very into anime. she goes to the conventions, the website and reads and draws her own characters. She is studying graphic design in college. She is also learning Japanese via programs designed to teach foreign languages. I think she would enjo this cookbook.

Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

I love trying new foods and making my own recipes. One dish that I haven't made yet is Onigiri. It is so common that I am a little ashamed that I haven't made it yet. Of course I have had rice, but I like the idea of having a filling inside. It would be a great chance to try an umeboshi filling too, something else that I have never tried.

Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

Hmmm....one dish I haven't made yet is a onigiri. Goodness knows I've attempted but it always comes out pretty bad. -_-;

Re: Book review and giveaway: The Manga Cookbook

I love this site! It has inspired me to make a bento lunch instead of just a normal (boring) lunch! And to be honest there are too many recipes that I want to try that I could never just choose one! But I suppose any recipe that uses beef as the meat takes first priority in my mind! :D