The availability of authentic ingredients and the time-consuming nature that is associated with making Japanese food have led chefs around the world to improvise with substitutes in an attempt to cut costs and make their products more accessible for the masses.
Anime has always had a strong connection to food, with many popular series and films featuring memorable and mouth-watering dishes. From ramen in "Naruto" to onigiri in "Spirited Away," anime has introduced a wide variety of dishes to fans around the world. In recent years, this fascination with anime food has even led to the creation of real-life restaurants and cafes inspired by these fictional creations.
One of the most iconic examples of anime food is the ramen featured in the "Naruto" series. This popular anime follows the adventures of a young ninja named Naruto Uzumaki, who is often depicted eating ramen as a comfort food. The popularity of "Naruto" has led to the creation of real-life Naruto-themed ramen shops, where fans can enjoy their favorite noodles in a setting inspired by the series. Naruto’s ramen of choice is a tonkotsu miso chashu ramen that consists of fish cakes, extra chashu (thinly sliced braised pork belly), menma (lacto-fermented dried bamboo shoots), and Sapporo-style noodles in a tonkotsu broth, served with sheets of nori on the side. Several shops across the world have attempted to replicate the warrior's tall order, with varying degrees of success. The availability of authentic ingredients and the time-consuming nature that is associated with making Japanese food have led chefs around the world to improvise with substitutes in an attempt to cut costs and make their products more accessible for the masses. That said, several restaurants and chefs have mastered the recipe for ramen, including those in India. The best representation of the dish in the country can be found in Naruto, Bangalore, which offers an add-on package to their tonkotsu ramen that replicates Naruto’s favorite bowl to a T.
Another popular anime that has inspired real-life food creations are the several cult classic films that are part of the Studio Ghibli stable. Ghibli films have been credited with introducing anime enthusiasts to the wide scope of Japanese cuisine, with everything from bento boxes to aji fry featured across 23 films. The films also feature a range of western fare, from decadent desserts such as chocolate cake in Kiki’s Delivery Service to breakfast classics such as eggs and bacon in Howl’s Moving Castle.
But it's not just specific dishes that have inspired real-life food creations—entire restaurants and cafes dedicated to anime have also popped up in recent years. These anime-themed establishments often go beyond simply offering food and drinks and instead aim to create a fully immersive experience for guests. For example, the One Piece Bar in Tokyo is a pirate-themed bar that is inspired by the popular anime series "One Piece." The bar features a variety of food and drink options inspired by the series, as well as decor and music that help to transport guests into the world of the show. The anime is the longest-running series in history and features a colorful cast of pirates who don’t play around when it comes to their liquor. The show features a bevy of both traditional Japanese and western drinks, with the pirates drinking everything from umeshu (plum wine) to Grand Mariner.
This phenomenon isn't just limited to Japan; the growth in anime viewership around the world over the last few years with the advent of new means of media consumption has led to a proportional growth in anime-related merchandise and F&B endeavors. In recent years, there has been a proliferation of anime-themed cafes and restaurants in cities like New York, Paris, and London, all of which aim to bring the world of anime to life through food and drink. Anime such as "Yakitate!" have been instrumental in the spread of the culture in cities like Paris, owing to the plot’s focus on both European-style breads and viennoiserie, often taken to comical extremes. Several foods featured on the anime have been the subject of lengthy YouTube videos by several professional and hobbyist chefs, the most famous of the lot being the 314-layer croissant that was made by the show’s protagonist and featured on the ever-popular YouTube channel, Binging with Babish.
At its heart, the fascination with anime and food is about more than just the dishes themselves—it's about the way in which these fictional creations can inspire us to explore and celebrate the rich diversity of global cuisines. Whether it's a plate of spaghetti from "Porco Rosso" or a rich bowl of ramen from Naru, the confluence of anime and food offers fans a chance to delve into new and exciting culinary experiences that they would miss out on otherwise.