If you enjoy foodie dramas, you should try this Japanese drama that came out recently. Tokyo Noodle Factory is short and fun and you learn quite a lot about udon.
This is a story about a restaurant that specializes in udon noodles. Several people, including the manager, have quit and four part-timers are left to hold the fort. Their hopes are high when the parent company sends a new manager, but this guy has experience only in hotels, not restaurants.
After that, the noodle shop is loosely controlled chaos. It’s a place for a quick, cheap meal, and is especially busy at lunchtime. The staff has developed an orderly prep system, but the new manager ignores it. He has new ideas he wants everyone to try out, which inevitably causes them to fall behind.
The story revolves around the employees, and how they hate the new manager but slowly change their minds. He starts helping them with problems in their private lives, beginning with Momota. She runs the cash register and is the only person there who can fix anything electronic, including the air conditioner.
Midori, the dishwasher, is dumbfounded one day when a customer walks in who he recognizes as having been the leader of a girl gang in his high school, whom he really admired. He tries to take her order but can only stare at her wordlessly – which is probably the funniest sequence in the show.
Kimoto suddenly finds herself the only real chef at the noodle factory. She seems pretty tough, lifting heavy batches of udon from the boiler, but shows a tender side when she sees one of their regular customers at the hospital. The new manager goes to his old friends at the hotel when he needs extra help for Midori and Kimoto, and sometimes it works out, and sometimes it…gets complicated.
Once the workers and the manager understand each other and start working well together, then come the outside problems, which are exacerbated by a film crew that shows up to do a documentary. Here they are with senior employee Aoi, asking leading questions and trying to get him to say the worst possible thing.
I really enjoyed this cheerful little show, which is six episodes on Viki. The acting is good, and the characters are likable. The problems resolve fairly well, with a few surprises along the way. They throw around a lot of udon names, which I thought were worth explaining. Kake Udon is the plain version, kamaage udon comes with a spicy dipping sauce, kitsune has fried tofu on top, and kamatama udon has a raw egg in it. Let us know in the comments if you had fun watching.
This drama is fiction. Udon is real.
Dramas With a Side of Kimchi