You can understand a lot about a nation’s roots and history through their cuisine. In Japan, cooking is considered an art form; it is handled and served with utmost finesse. Because food plays such a vital role in Japanese culture, you’ll see traces of it in their popular media like manga and anime.
Whether you’re a gourmand or a foodie looking for a worthwhile cooking manga to snack on, you’ve come to the right place. Our top 10 list dives into the best cooking manga of all time, with some still in production. Take your pick and enjoy!
10. Yumeiro Patissiere (Natsumi Matsumoto, 2008 – 2011)
A defining factor of an excellent cooking manga is how appetizing the drawings look to a reader. Was the artist able to make you salivate over a black and white image? Can you smell the aroma of the dish? Our top 10 list kickoffs with Yumeiro Patissiere or Dream-Colored Pastry Chef in English. This manga has it all: great character growth, enjoyable baking scenes, and likable characters.
All Ichigo Amano, the 14-year-old protagonist, wants to do in life is eat sweets, especially cakes. Ichigo, whose name means strawberry, has a superb palate that was recognized during a Sweets Festival at her school. Because of her unique ability, she’s invited to transfer to St. Marie Academy, a prestigious baking academy, to train as a patisserie.
Cue in three Sweets Princes and four Sweet Spirits; yes, spirits. Ichigo has trouble fitting in at her new school but slowly finds her place with the help of the princes and fairies. If you’re an avid baker, you’ll definitely enjoy this piece by Matsumoto. I learned a lot about baking when I read the manga. Find out how Ichigo and her new friends will battle and maybe even win in the Grand Prix, a cut-throat baking competition that allows the winners to go to Paris.
If you can read Japanese, there is the Japanese version of volume 1 here on Amazon: Yumeiro Patissiere Vol. 1
9. Kakuriyo: Bed and Breakfast for Spirits (Midori Yūma, 2015 – Present)
When your only weapon to survive against evil spirits is cooking- you cook like there’s no tomorrow. Kakuriyo, a fantasy manga still in the works, touches the realms of isekai or alternate universe mixed with a lot of cooking. The interesting plot mixed with eye-candy spirits earned Kakuriyo a spot on our list. It’s not every day you see a young girl cooking for hungry spirits in hopes that they don’t use her as emergency food.
Kakuriyo follows the narrative of Aoi Tsubaki, a teenage girl who can see spirits. Abandoned by her mother, Aoi’s an independent and strong-willed heroine who speaks her mind and doesn’t go down without a fight. One day, Aoi crosses paths with a hungry spirit who begs her for food.
Unaware of the spirit’s identity as an Ogre-God, Aoi gives him her lunch. She’s then transported to another world called the Hidden Realm, where Aoi ends up working at an inn as a cook to pay off a debt.
If you’re craving for some romance, fantasy, and, of course, cooking- Kakuriyo has it all.
You can find volume 1 and more on Amazon here: Kakuriyo: Bed & Breakfast for Spirits, Vol. 1
8. Oishinbo (Tetsu Kariya, 1983 – 2014)
Oishinbo, a series that began in the 1980s, is a lengthy cooking manga that skyrocketed into fame on its release. If you not only want to learn about Japanese cuisine but also the history of chopsticks, tableware, and other cooking materials- this is the ideal manga to try!
The manga’s title is a play of the two Japanese words oishiī and kuishinbo, which means delicious and someone who loves to eat, respectively. The protagonist, Shirō Yamaoka, is a 27-year-old journalist working for the Tōzai News who is tasked to create the “Ultimate Menu.” Although Yamaoka appears lazy and uninterested in life and work, he transforms into a man of passion whenever food is the topic.
Readers join Yamaoka and his colleague and love interest Yūko Kurita as they travel across Japan researching recipes and essential elements in Japanese cuisine for the “Ultimate Menu.” You’ll learn a thing or two about the history of Japanese food by reading Oishinbo.
You can find volume 1 here on Amazon: Oishinbo: Japanese Cuisine, Vol. 1: A la Carte
7. Drops of God (Tadashi Agi, 2004 – 2014)
Whether you’re an oenophile (wine lover) or a casual wine drinker, Drops of God is the perfect series to read to satisfy any connoisseur’s palate. Our list is all about diversity, and this hit series written by siblings Shin and Yuko Kibayashi (pen name Tadashi Agi), earned a spot here because of its elaborate explanations of authentic wine.
The writers’ love for all things wine is brought to life in Drops of God that follows the story of Shizuku Kanzaki, the son of a renowned wine critic. Kanzaki’s upbringing was unlike normal children as he was subjected to peculiar practices revolving around wine by his father. For starters, Kanzaki was taught how to decipher the taste and age of wine by smell alone. Sadly, he didn’t want any part in this lifestyle and left home to be an average employee in a beer company.
However, Kanzaki can not escape the world of wine. He receives news that his father has passed away, and he can only obtain the estate and his assets if he correctly identifies “The 12 Apostles of Wine” plus the thirteenth wine called “The Drops of God.” With no choice but to return to the world of wine, Kanzaki battles Issei Tomine, a young man Kanzaki’s father adopts before passing away.
Will Kanzaki defeat Issei, the Prince of Wine, and get what’s rightfully his? Well, you’ll have to read the manga to find out.
Check out volume 1 on Amazon: Drops of God, Volume ’01: Les Gouttes de Dieu
6. Kinō Nani Tabeta? (Fumi Yoshinaga, 2007 – Present)
Kinō Nani Tabeta’s English translation is “What did you eat yesterday?” This series by Fumi Yoshinaga is not your average love story. The superb storytelling using food as a medium makes this manga stand out. It’s a great read, and here’s why.
Kinō Nani Tabeta is a cooking, slice of life manga about a middle-aged gay couple and their gourmand adventures. Throughout the series, we see the delicious meals Shiro Kakei prepares for his partner Kenji Yabuki. We get to enjoy the exquisite food drawings of Yoshinaga and the step-by-step preparation of the dishes Shiro prepares. The dishes Shiro makes are full of passion and are well-thought of, many times revolving around the chapter’s specific theme.
Many fans of this series say that the story resembles a recipe book with how detailed the cooking scenes are portrayed. Don’t miss this one-of-a-kind series and get reading!
You can buy volume 1 here on Amazon: What Did You Eat Yesterday? Vol. 1
5. Kiyo in Kyoto (Aiko Koyama, 2016 – Present)
Kiyo in Kyoto is a heartwarming, slice-of-life manga revolving around the journey of becoming a geisha, a traditional female Japanese entertainer. You might be wondering, where’s the cooking? You’ll see.
This series by Koyama secured the 5th spot on our list for its wholesome yet educational plot that shows readers the arduous journey of becoming a maiko, an apprentice geisha, plus pages overflowing with cooking.
Childhood friends Kiyo and Sumire have always dreamed of moving to Kyoto and training to be a maiko. When the two friends turn 16 years old, they leave their hometown in Aomori and relocate to Kyoto to fulfill their dream. Right away, the two girls start their journey into the performing arts. Immediately, Kiyo struggles with the basic training because of her clumsiness, while Sumire excels in everything and is praised by her mentors.
Kiyo’s maiko training is cut short, and she’s asked to return home. However, just before she leaves the manor, her true skill is revealed- cooking. Kiyo decides to support Sumire and the rest of the maiko in training by cooking delicious meals for them. Kiyo in Kyoto will make you crave a homecooked meal prepared with love.
For Japanese readers, you can get volume 1 of the Japanese edition on Amazon here: 舞妓さんちのまかないさん (1) (Kiyo in Kyoto)
4. Bambino (Tetsuji Sekiya, 2004 – 2009)
A story’s relatability is one factor that makes something worth reading. This is the case for the manga series Bambino. If you’ve ever worked as a chef, you’ll enjoy Sekiya’s slice-of-life cooking manga. Relive your kitchen nightmares and accomplishments alongside the protagonist, Shogo Ban.
Bambino follows the narrative of Shogo Ban, a college student living in Fukuoka, Japan. He works as a part-time chef at an Italian restaurant. Shogo shares the dream of many professional chefs-owning a restaurant.
One day, the owner of the restaurant he worked at offers him a position at a top-class Italian restaurant called Trattoria Baccanale. Shogo leaves his hometown and relocates to Tokyo, leaving behind his long-term girlfriend, Eri.
Right away, Shogo is overwhelmed by how cut-throat the cooking environment is in Tokyo compared to his small town in Fukuoka. If you’ve ever worked as a chef, you’ll relate to the troubles Shogo faces in his new work. The grueling work hours, new co-workers, pressure-Shogo struggles to fit in.
Find out if Shogo overcomes his difficulties and still pursues his dream of owning a restaurant by reading Bambino!
If you can read Japanese, volume 1 of the Japanese edition can be found on Amazon here: Bambino! 1
3. Sweetness and Lightning (Gido Amagakure, 2013 – 2018)
In third place is Sweetness and Lightning, a slice-of-life manga about a single father who finds solace in cooking hearty meals for his only daughter.
This heartwarming series deserves a spot on our best cooking manga list because it leaves readers feeling like they are a part of Kōhei Inazuka, our caring single dad and school teacher, and daughter Tsumugi’s family.
Kōhei’s culinary journey begins with not knowing a single thing about cooking. After his wife passes away, Kōhei becomes frustrated, relying solely on convenience store meals to feed his daughter. He then takes the offer of his student Kotori Iida to cook and have dinner at her family restaurant. Thus begins the culinary journey of the unlikely trio.
A significant aspect of Sweetness and Lightning is that the recipes they show in the book are made for beginners. The protagonist himself is not a culinary prodigy and still has a lot to learn. You might take a liking to cooking if you read this series!
Check out volume 1 of this series on Amazon: Sweetness and Lightning 1
2. Delicious in Dungeon (Ryōko Kui, 2014 – Present)
If you’ve ever played the role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons or D&D, you’ll thoroughly enjoy reading this fantasy adventure manga all about surviving in a monster-infested dungeon.
Since its release in 2014, Delicious in Dungeon has mostly received positive feedback. The action-packed quests, unique adventures, and, of course, cooking monsters for survival make this manga worth reading.
The story follows the journey of Laios, a human, and his crew as they enter a dangerous dungeon to rescue Laios’ sister Falin. Laios is a level-headed leader who knows a lot about cooking monsters. He uses this knowledge to help his party survive in the dungeons.
Just like in any D&D game, you’ll need a foolproof strategy to succeed in a quest, kill a dragon, or simply go through a dungeon unscathed. Delicious in Dungeons has all of these elements plus a lot of cooking!
Get volume 1 on Amazon here: Delicious in Dungeon Vol. 1
1. Shokugeki no Sōma (Yūto Tsukuda, 2012 – 2019)
Number one on our list is none other than the ever-popular shounen manga Shokugeki no Sōma, which also goes by the name “Food Wars.” The amount of detail writer Yūto Tsukuda and illustrator Shun Saeki place in the cooking competitions is insane. An engaging plot, superb cooking battles, and a lot of fan service-these are the aspects that paved the way for Shokugeki no Sōma’s success.
The shounen manga relates the adventures of Sōma Yukihara as he outshines his peers through his remarkable cooking techniques. Sōma aspires to become a better chef than his father and wishes to become the head chef in their small family restaurant.
However, Sōma’s dreams are placed on hold when his father suddenly shuts down their restaurant and travels around the world. Sōma then transfers to an elite cooking school where he participates in intense cooking face-offs with other students.
One important note worth mentioning is that this manga may not be suitable for younger ages, despite being tagged as a cooking manga. This is because of the highly sexualized images of people, mainly girls, who eat Sōma’s cooking. They lose their clothes, experience intense emotions-you get the idea.
Past this, Shokugeki no Sōma secures the spot as the best cooking manga mainly for its impeccable storytelling told through cooking. Word of caution. Make sure you don’t read this on an empty stomach; you’ll end up hungry.
You can find volume 1 of this delicious series here on Amazon: Food Wars!: Shokugeki no Soma, Vol. 1
What manga caught your attention? We hope you got your fill and leave with a full stomach.
What other types of lists do you want to see on our website? We’re always open to suggestions. Head to the comment section, and we’ll write back!