「残党狩り」 (Zantou Kari)
“Hunting the Survivors”
It’s been a while since I’ve talked about food and here we have a whole episode dedicated to chicken! Delicious chicken “gyoza” and Hainanese chicken. Starting with Etsuya’s Hainanese chicken – Chinese people are all over this dish. I see it everywhere when I go out for dinners and lunch and even mall food courts will serve it; because it’s just so readily loved by everyone. It might be a little weird for those that haven’t tried it before but I’ll try my best to explain it. It’s like a smooth, clean chicken that’s served over a bed of rice that comes with this separate ginger/oil/onion sauce that you dip the chicken into. The chicken is usually room temperature or a little cold and it’s just a very clean meal that doesn’t leave you feeling bloated or oily with deep-fried goodness. I’m not a huge fan of Hainanese chicken (I know! It’s preposterous!), but many people are and it’s a very safe dish to try when you go out for Chinese food. Souma’s “gyoza” (and I put it in quotations because it’s not your typical gyoza with a flour wrapping) is unique to say the least and certainly VERY creative when it comes to stuffing your chicken… with pork. I’ve had stuffed chicken before (also at a Japanese restaurant) and I have to admit that the fried skin makes for the perfect pocket that keeps the stuffing both flavorful and moist. It’s like all the fat just drips into the stuffing and when you bite into it, there’s no bone – just meat and crispy skin. It makes my mouth water just thinking about it. It’s like having deep-fried chicken but not biting into chicken meat… if that makes sense. The only thing is, I can’t get a good read on the sauce and cheese/ketchup concoction that Souma made on top of the gyoza. It doesn’t sound unappealing to me (maybe because I’m willing to try everything once) but I can imagine why it’s a turn off for people that mix sweet, salty and cheesy parmesan flavors altogether. I’d love to be able to try it but for now, I guess I’ll just drool over the show instead.
To say I’m not surprised that Souma beat Etsuya is an understatement. Obviously, this was going to be a shokugeki that Souma comes out victorious (there’s no way he’s losing his dorm!) with everyone watching, to prove a point. What I didn’t particularly like was how overly confident Souma was without any indication (to the audience) of how and why he was that confident in his ability to overcome bribed judges. I mean, realistically, if a judge was going to just declare a winner, why even try Souma’s dish? And there’s wasn’t anything enticing them to try his chicken gyoza either – other than the smell and the temptation that it would be delicious. I’m glad that they chose a winner that they thought was deserving, but just the whole shokugeki was a bit underwhelming; especially when I knew the winner already. It would’ve been a much more interesting watch if they kept the suspense up a bit.
After Souma beats Etsuya though, this is when things get a little more interesting with our latest episode. Central is now accepting challenges from all the different student organizations in order to keep their clubs running. Unfortunately, Central’s members are there for a reason and I think it’s pretty silly to underestimate the Elite Ten (or Seven now) when you know that they’re the top students, even if you’re the club leader of a specific cuisine. Souma is obviously the exception to the rule, but even with fair judges, it seems like a lot of the students (or all of them) just can’t beat the Central members at cooking. There are a few new Central members as well (from the 2nd year), and I’ll probably introduce them next episode – but the more interesting turn of events is Ryou! The last time we saw him was over 2 arcs ago when he battled against Souma and Akira… now he’s up on center stage again and he’s totally in his element. With salmon as the food of choice, it’ll be an interesting shokugeki against Kusunoki Rentarou (Asanuma Shintaro) – probably the most annoying character entrance to date. Why is it that everyone (except Megumi perhaps) comes in as if they’re the best chef ever? Everyone at the school seems to have a superiority complex, but I guess that’s what you need to be at such a competitive school. Plus they make for more interesting characters. Gosh, Ryou better wipe the floor with this guy. I can’t wait to see what they create.