Disclaimer: There may be some minor spoilers for the anime in this review.
Out of all of the serials I watched this season, Restaurant to Another World would have to be one of my favourites. It was feel-good and dangerously hunger-inducing.
In the corner of a local shopping district lies a Western-style restaurant called Yōshuku no Nekoya (Western Cuisine Cat Restaurant). During its business hours, Monday through Friday, it serves normal food to normal folks. The restaurant is normally closed on weekends and holidays. However, on Saturdays it secretly opens its doors to very unique and unusual clientele from some very unique and unusual locales.
The most disappointing part of this entire series was the severe lack of kitty cats. The restaurant’s name has the word “cat” in it. The least they could have given me was a little feline mascot!
I just had to get that off of my chest. Aside from that, it was such a fun and delectable series. It’s set up in an anecdotal means with episodes that don’t connect plot-wise. The story itself is simple and straightforward: it’s about a fancy restaurant that caters to diverse, fantastical races from varying planets, and the different ways that these folks come across the Nekoya.
Aside from the delicious and breathtaking dishes that are served at this restaurant, my favourite part of the show consisted of the characters. Even with it being episodic in nature, the anime does a phenomenal job of being character rich and exhibiting stories that share motifs of strength, overcoming grief, loneliness, and insecurities, just to name a few. The experiences that so many of the clientele undergo vary from light-hearted to tender to deeply emotional. There’s an underlying warmth in the hardships they all over-came during their lives that I found to be very comforting and inspirational. Their trials and tribulations are reflected in the foods that they come to love dearly.
For example, we have a lion who was beaten and taken into captivity as a slave where he was forced to fight for his freedom. His favourite dish is katsudon. It’s a dish with lightly fried meat, usually pork, over rice with eggs. The dish helps rejuvenate him and helps him to gain his strength. Thus providing him an advantage, which he uses to obtain his freedom much faster than anyone believed possible. His story also provides a lesson in not judging someone by their appearances as monsters can be hidden within even the most genuine looking folks.
There is another story that revolves around a young girl who used to visit the restaurant with her grandfather where they’d eat parfaits. After he passes away, she falls into depression and her physical health begins to suffer. She’s a very lonely young woman. One day after coming across the magical door, she’s taken to Nekoya. The memories associated with the restaurant help inspire her to get healthier. She begins smiling and laughing a lot more, and the overall quality of her life improves drastically. That was one of the episodes that resonated the most with me.
So, the stories in each episode truly make the series worth watching. It’s an all-around feel-good, heart-warming anime. If that’s not enough to peak your interest maybe the animation will be. It’s beautiful, especially where the food is concerned. Every single dish they showed, even if it was something that I’m allergic to or cannot eat like pork, made my mouth water. I made the mistake of watching this on an empty stomach one evening. My tummy roared louder than my cat! However, when I watched it after having dinner with a full belly, I still found myself desperately hungry for whatever was being shared in the episode.
I think my biggest complaint, aside from there being no kitty cats, is the mystery behind Nekoya. How did it come to exist in a way that allows it to reach different dimensions, as well as different planets? What is the secret behind this unique capability? A part of me wishes it was discussed in the serial, but another part of me really appreciates the enigma. In a way, it adds to the charm.
It may be not super spectacular, but it’s a decent show that is worth watching, especially if you’re in the market for something that is uncomplicated, savory, and compassionate.
7.5 sandwiches outta 10!