The Kamogawa Food Detectives
“Down a quiet backstreet in Kyoto exists a very special restaurant. Run by Koishi Kamogawa and her father Nagare, the Kamogawa Diner treats its customers to wonderfully extravagant meals. But that’s not the main reason to stop by… The father-daughter duo have started advertising their services as ‘food detectives’. Through ingenious investigations, they are capable of recreating a dish from their customers’ pasts – dishes that may well hold the keys to forgotten memories and future happiness.”
The concept is quite novel, yet something that we all should know the basics of. It’s not just about the taste of a meal that evokes the memory, it’s also the scent and sight – the anticipation of it. This is a great bite-sized (haha) read for those who enjoy Japanese cuisine and love to hear about each of the dishes in turn. It made me crave some sushi or sashimi (which is sort of odd, since that wasn’t really the food the Kamogawa’s specialised in).
I found the set up of the Detective’s Agency quite weird. Why was it Koishi who did the interviews? It seemed like Nagare was the one with the expertise who might know the right questions to ask. Koishi also let a lot of her own feelings and perceptions out when doing the interviews – something that I felt would hinder it rather than adding to the memories brought out in people. The concept would never work if Nagare didn’t seem to have a geographical and food memory running the spread of Japan.
I didn’t understand why, if their food was so popular, Nagare complained about sushi being too expensive! Why not make a little more money by advertising to just a couple more people. I get not wanting to be run off their feet like a popular resturant, but also, making enough money to cover Nagare’s trips around Japan might be useful?
Pan Macmillan looks for books with great translators, or take the effort to choose novels that read well in their non-original language. I felt that this translation could have been a little more nauanced in tone, but I can only think that the original text was a little stilted.
This is more like short stories rather than a novel – so go into it expecting that. I don’t care much for short stories so it was never going to get more than three stars from me. If I had any say in what comes next in the series, I’d recommend having at least 10 stories in the book to make it a decent read (rather than the 1 hour or so I spent reading it). If there is a plot outside each of the eaters, I didn’t see it.
Pan Macmillan | 10 October 2023 | AU$19.99 | paperback