Lately I’ve been watching a Japanese television series that has the same plotline (if you can even call it that) for every episode and has been running for four seasons already. It’s Kodoku no Gurume, or the Solitary Gourmet, originally a manga series about a travelling salesman, where each chapter covers a particular restaurant somewhere in Japan at which he dines. And that’s the main thing in the television series too – his eating.

Every episode is our protagonist Goro having some client meeting somewhere in Japan and post-meeting, his having some crisis of empty stomach that needs rectifying. He goes in search of a restaurant that satisfies his criteria of a good restaurant (not necessarily expensive but with good homey food) and then we spend at least half the episode watching him order and eat the food. And damn, do I get hungry watching his ridiculously expressive face while eating. It can get a little slow going – I mean, he is actually eating and chewing the food in real-time – but his thoughts are going on as he chews and whatnot.

And here’s the best part too – every one of the restaurants he eats at is real and actually exists in Japan! At the end of each episode, Masayuki Kusumi, the original writer of the manga series, visits the restaurant and tries the food and interacts with the real owners and staff (the staff at the restaurants are replaced with actors in the series).

But don’t just listen to me – go and watch it – Umamimart has links to the episodes with English subtitles. It really is absolutely brilliant. You might get hooked (and if you do, ….uh, don’t blame me).

As an aside, I do wish I saw this programme before visiting Japan as it’s a great way of learning about the food and restaurant culture of the country!