Iron Wok Jan v.3Getting back to the Iron Wok Jan manga series, we move on to the third volume. So far we’ve learned about a sixteen-year-old named Jan, who was brought up by an abusive grandfather–who just so happened to be a master cook.

Jan’s goal is to become the best Chinese food Chef, even if it means working at the Gobancho Restaurant, owned by his dead grandfather’s archrival.

The arrogant food critic, Nichido Otani, is the mastermind behind a Chinese cuisine cooking contest. His goal is to find a chef that can outdo Jan, and by doing so, fulfill his revenge for being humiliated by the boy.

Story overview:

We start where the last volume left off. Jan faces off with another chef, named Sawada, whose cooking style is very showy. The challenge is to make a meal using Beef. Where Sawada takes the tenderest cuts of a cow, Jan decides to use the toughest: the leg. Amazingly enough it works and Jan moves on to the next round.

Kiriko (the granddaughter of the owner of the Gobancho Restaurant, who works with Jan) also passes her rounds and makes it to the finals. Between rounds, we learn how brutal Jan’s grandfather was to him and we see ghastly scars across his back; put there by the old man’s cane.

Several rounds pass and Jan beats out technology with old fashioned cooking, and his final opponent by using what some would call a nasty trick: getting the judges full and satisfied before trying Ko’s dish. Though Ko was clearly more deserving (by more than just his food,) it was Jan who won. Three contestants go to the final round: Jan, Kiriko, and a girl named Celine Yang (who calls herself Jan’s fan and agrees with his methods.)

My thoughts:

I’ve yet to feel like I need to put this manga down for good. The nasty characters actually give some nice color to the story, and the plot with its interesting recipes still carries me on. So far I can say that I like it, but I have yet to really get into it. I will continue in this venture and share my thoughts with you.

Things to consider

Thirteen and up, this volume does have more cursing than the first two, but it’s pretty mild. There’s a scene where Kiriko sees Jan taking a shower and is shocked by the scars on his back. Thankfully the author (or moderator) placed a convenient black-bar over a certain part. Later we catch a quick glimpse of Kiriko in her undergarments, but nothing comes of it. Still pretty tame for manga standards. There’s also scenes with obnoxious violence . . .  kind of hard to explain, you’d have to read to know what I mean.

Opportunities for discussion:

Pride is a consistent theme in this story, yet we also learn there’s more to the characters than how they seem on the outside. Another good area to focus on is: how far should one go to win? Are there moral boundaries? Or is a win a win? Share these thoughts with your teens and ask them if there’s anything in their lives that this can relate to.

Past reviews in this series:

1) Iron Wok Jan (Volume 1)
2) Iron Wok Jan (Volume 2)

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