Izakaya Bottakuri (2018) ぼったくり: J-Drama Series Review

Sisters Kaoru & Mine

The series charts the daily (mundane but interesting) life of sisters, Mine & Kaoru, who inherited an “izakaya” restaurant from their parents. The focus of the series is linking the variation of food (from different parts of Japan) to the patrons of the restaurant. Each episode is a short 25 minutes, but introduces the food & recommended pairing with drinks as the food connects to the issues faced by the particular patron of the izakaya.

“Bottakuri” means to swindle or cheat, whereby in the beginning it begins as a joke within the family the “izakaya” will “swindle or cheat” the patrons by serving them food that is available in every Japanese home. But as time goes by, the authentic home-cooked food available at home becomes less accessible to busy city dwellers. Hence the authentic home-cooked food becomes the star attractions at the izakaya.

Miso pork, looks simple but delicious!

Mine, the eldest daughter, is more prominent in the series as she mainly manages the restaurant. She is the soul of the izakaya, as she is passionate about preparation of food, and has a kind & sincere heart towards her patrons. Kaoru mostly helps around, with less emphasis on her interaction with the patrons or the izakaya. Some are regular patrons while others may have stumbled upon the izakaya. 

Crispy chicken wings!

My favourite episode relating to food must be the one on gyoza. One patron barges in to request (politely) for Mine to teach her how to make a good gyoza, as her husband loves gyoza. The journey for the patron, and the flashback on how Mine’s father taught her how to make the gyoza is heart-warming. And best of all, the gyoza that they made look yummylicious!

Butterfly of Gyoza

There are at least 2 episodes which hint a little romance in the bud for Mine. It was so subtle, and with a lot of “stewing” time in between. In one of the earlier episodes, a well-suited young patron comes in late at night during rain. Mine served him simple food, with recommendation to pair with drinks which brought out the flavour. The young patron is impressed with the great food and the cheap pricing, but looks a little arrogant. He returns very much later, whereby Kaoru catches on that romance is in the air (so perceptive of our young Kaoru!). I am a little disappointed that the season ended with no clear indication on the direction of romance for these two! They only exchanged names at the end of the season. 😀

Agedashi dofu with a twist

Conclusion 8/10

Series is easy to follow, and if you are a food-lover, make sure you watch when you are not hungry. Watching the series bring me heart-warming feelings, as if these are nourishing chicken soup for the soul. The individual stories of the patrons, and the food associated with them. Who says mundane daily life is not interesting?

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