Screen Reviews

Iron Chef

Tuna Battle

Starring Takeshi Kago, Mashito Kubi, Shinya Tasaki

We’re all pretty hip, and none of us feel that Tuna Sashimi with Chocolate is just for dessert anymore. Tonight’s battle between Iron Chef Italian (Kubi) and world-renowned sommelier Tasaki is not just a battle over the souls and senses the celebrity packed judges table, but a genuine attempt to get them completely schnockered before the second course. In the heat of Kitchen Stadium challenger Tasaki pulls out all the corks, serving five wonderful wines. I assume they were wonderful, everyone was swigging them down from glasses the size of fish bowls. Tuna was the theme, and tuna was fit into every mold possible – Chicken Fried Tuna Cutlet Soup, Kelp Flavored Tuna Dessert, Smoked Tuna in Clam Sauce, you name it. Best of all, we get to watch people eat this stuff and smack their lips.

Iron Chef is perhaps the best parody of professional sport ever created. Wealthy and eccentric gourmet Kago asks world-renowned chefs to compete with his crew of Iron Chefs in preparing dishes with a common theme ingredient. A panel of “experts,” always including a cute air head bimbo and an astrologer, taste and judge the results. There is no discernible prize, but the loser always looks like he will fillet himself on the way home. Filmed with the seriousness for the silly that only the Japanese can muster, the show is a mixture of subtitled Japanese, bad dubbed English and instant replays of sauce preparation and fish gutting. On the spot reporters flash instant interviews, and the chefs alternate between over weaning and pride and obsequious humility, combined with a strange culinary trash talk. There’s a frenetic energy here, as if a pro football finals game were played with no time outs. The food is beyond the pale every single time – there’s nothing prepared here that you would ever find in a real restaurant, and that’s just as well. This is Kung Pao cooking, with truffles and champagne and squid intestines used with equal relish as well, relish. Qui-san, back to you.


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