Oishii Kankei (1996)

Nakayama Miho as Fujiwara Momoe Karasawa
Toshiaki as Orita Keiji (Oda)

Our female lead, Momoe, is a super taster and lover of good food. She’s no snob, and we see any tasty cuisine makes her happy – even street food. Her father brought her up to appreciate the love poured into a well prepared dish. On the day of her father’s funeral, she wanders into a small but exceptional French restaurant and ends up working there.
Oda is the genius chef hidden away in the tiny kitchen. He appears to be dealing with emotional issues that keep him from making it big in the world. The story develops over the pair inspiring each other to greater things, while also searching for love.

Momoe and Oda had the flint and steel relationship. Sparks flying everywhere when they came in contact. She gets to him, but he can’t ignore her no matter how hard he tries to hide his interest. Of course, this is a J-dorama, so nothing is easy between them.

I enjoyed watching them prepare and enjoy the meals, similar to the meal in
Babette’s Feast.  They showed all the steps required to make something as simple as a consommé, a clear broth, and how one misstep could ruin the whole batch.

I liked that the view of male-female relations was open. They did not preach morality, but gave a glimpse of what every day people experience, including an out of wedlock pregnancy. This is a big change from even current day K-drama scripts.

I watched this streaming from what seemed like a copy of a copy, so it was dark and muted. It seemed that it was very carefully lit and shot sometimes reminding me of a stage play.
And, because the majority of the filming took place in a restaurant kitchen, and the cuisine was francais, it felt very much like a French film from the sixties or early seventies.

The OST was moody and meaningful. I liked it, but wouldn’t put it on my ipod.

Just to compare what we watched in the States, it seems like this show was worlds removed from us in 1996:
Top rated TV shows: ER, Seinfeld, Friends, Home Improvement, NYPD Blue.
Top Box office films: Independence Day, Mission Impossible, Jerry McGuire, as well as The English Patient, Shine and Trainspotting.

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