Samurai Gourmet, the new Japanese show now streaming on Netflix, is not about cooking. Unlike many of the platform’s successful foodie-friendly originals, such as the culinary artist-worshiping Chef’s Table, this isn’t a show where you learn about life in a kitchen. There’s no pressure on Samurai Gourmet. No ticking clock. No judges. No screaming Gordon Ramsay. It’s the most relaxing food show ever made.
The delightfully odd series, which is based on a Japanese manga by Masayuki Kusumi and Shigeru Tsuchiyama, ditches many of the clichés we’ve come to associate with “food TV.” Instead of focusing on chefs, it’s centered around a hungry guy with simple tastes, a retired businessman named Takashi Kasumi (Naoto Takenaka). Unlike Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown, it’s not a documentary travelogue series about real people; instead, it’s a fictional comedy that blends super-low-stakes narrative storytelling with brightly lit food porn. And, yes, there’s a samurai involved.