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Donburi Mania
By Kentaro Kobayashi
ISBN: 1934287490
Publisher: Vertical, Inc.
Publication date: April 14, 2009
Format: Softcover
List price: $14.95 
Type: Ethnic: Japanese
Sample recipe: Super Sesame Chicken Donburi
Intended audience: novice advanced beginner good home cook gourmet professional
Apparent goal: stocking stuffer sampler comprehensive coffee-table Biblical stature
Competition: outclassed follower in the pack strong challenger likely champ
Variety: too little too much unusual nice mix just right
# of recipes: <50 <100 <200 <300 ≥300
Practical recipes: <20% <40% <60% <80% ≥80%
# of ingredients: ≤4 ≤7 ≤10 ≤12 >12
Ingredient hunt: 7-Eleven airfare required online pantry supermarket
Recipe complexity: too hard simple medium challenging professional
Instructions: inadequate verbose bare-bones full-figured educational
Time conscious: unconscious outright lies white lies realistic honorable
Cooking time: weekend project takes all day takes time ≥30 minutes <30 minutes
Added info: zip overwhelming scant balanced generous
Photos/drawings: none distracting decorative instructive glorious
Recipe results: ≤dorm food casual food family meals fancy food fit for royalty
Nutritional info: none overwhelming hit or miss adequate comprehensive
Format/Ease of Use
Layout: ugh cluttered fine considerate work of art
Legibility: unpleasant challenging tolerable clear brilliant
Production quality: cheesy dubious years of service gift quality stunning
Page numbers: non-existent hard-to-find spotty sufficient every page
Table of contents: AWOL frustrating passable useful excellent
Index quality: none tragic adequate good a treasure
Page flipping: upsetting tedious acceptable rare never
Writer: beginner food writer writing cook personality auteur
Cook: unknown self-taught chef teacher celebrity
Fulfills ambitions: falls short almost there satisfactory exceeds home run
Flavor delivered: sad inconsistent tasty delicious exceptional
Overall tone: sterile trying too hard straightforward best friend mom
Value: ouch! a little pricey worth splurging on the money a deal
Overall rating: skip it good very good excellent Ochef Top 100

Comments: Donburi is a Japanese bowl, or a combination of boiled rice topped with meat, fish, eggs, and/or vegetables and a little broth in that Japanese bowl. It is a Japanese fast food that beats out a lot of our fast foods.

Author Kobayashi, a food writer and television chef, says the goal of donburi is "to create a dish that enhances the innate sweetness of rice." So he wants you to use top-quality rice and give some thought to buying a rice cooker, "because it makes perfectly cooked rice every time."

Ingredients may be challenging, unless you have an Asian market nearby. The book dedicates a little space to describing common Japanese ingredients and recipes and substitutes for some of them, but it doesn't cover them all. Be sure to read through the recipe before starting, to make sure you have all the needed ingredients. And can someone tell us where you would find a single half-pound, boned chicken thigh?

There are also some issues related to translating measurements for an American audience. How many people know how to cut 1/5th- or 2/5th-inch cubes, for example? A half-tablespoon is also not a common measure. We doubt many of these recipes would suffer if ingredient quantities were shifted up or down to common measurements.

So you may be tripped up by hard-to-find ingredients, unusual measures, and somewhat unexpected instructions, but the book still offers simple, fast food, with good flavor, and some personality that is lacking in more than a few of today's cookbooks.


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