Kinou Nani Tabeta/ What Did You Eat Yesterday? - Episode 1 (Recap)

Trotwood: I’ve decided to work myself back into recapping by doing something small. I have been planning to recap Crisis with Hidetoshi Nishijima and Oguri Shun for awhile now, but I no longer have access to downloadable versions of the show with eng subs, and the project will take much more energy and emotion than I have now with the end of semester stress. I still want to do it, but it's going to have to wait until summer when my students are gone.

Kinou Nani Tabeta also stars Hidetoshi Nishijima but is a warm, calm show (at least so far) and even though I don’t know how many episodes it will be (it’s based on the manga of the same name so . . .), each episode is only around 30 minutes, so it's much more manageable than most shows. It also is making me feel good--soothing even with angst. I mean look at our main couple at end of ep 1.

Eating ice cream on the sofa at the end of a long day is exactly what I need at this time of year.

Episode One

Kinou Nani Tabeta episode one starts with a cold open as Shiro Kakei (Hidetoshi Nishijima) consoles a client. He is clearly her lawyer and advising her as she cries that her behavior isn’t helping her case.
She just wants to be able to see her son, which her ex-husband refuses because he thinks she is too mentally unstable. Her standing outside of his house at 2 AM where he lives with their son and his new family is not going to change his mind. Shiro is very calm, kind, even a bit bland in talking to her, but she seems to trust him and calms down enough to focus on their plan.

Meanwhile, his colleagues are talking at their work station. Clearly, this is a small private firm. Osamu is complaining to Shino Koyoama, who I am assuming is the office manager, that he can’t believe he’s hungry again when he ate so much the night before. She admonishes him for eating so much late at night because that makes him gain weight and tells him to look at Shiro as a model. He whines that she shouldn’t compare him to Shiro and that he couldn’t help himself when a client gave him such a big crab.

Shino looks at the other lawyer and squirms a bit as he brags. I was wondering why until the other lawyer speaks up. Turns out, she is his mother. She lives close by, and she clearly didn’t get any of this fabulous crab dinner!

Shiro is oblivious to the tension in the room because he is finalizing his work, so he can go home. Osamu tries to change the subject by asking Shiro what he had for dinner, and we cut to the opening credits which consist of what looks like a video taken on a cell phone of Shiro cooking. This Shiro is openly smiling and warm. Perhaps because the video is being taken by the man we will soon learn is his live-in partner, Kenji.

We go back to Shiro who packs up his bag getting ready to leave work as he lists what he ate for dinner the night before:
  • Miso soup with Komatsuna, green onions, wakame, and abura-age
  • Pollock row and Chinese yam dressed with soy sauce and vinegar with wasabi and nori on top
  • Chicken wings and daikon in a sweet and spicy broth
  • Broccoli with bonito flakes
  • Unpolished rice
His colleagues don’t seem to know how to respond as he cheerfully bids them all of a good night, but he isn’t paying them much mind. He’s on a mission, and this is when I knew I loved his character.

Shiro grocery shops like I grocery shop. He is looking for bargains and thinking about what to cook based upon what kind of bargains to be had at the markets in addition to what he already has at home. He goes to more than one market for the best prices. He talks to himself in his head about some of the outrageous prices that he sees.

And gets mad at himself when he buys something for what he thought was a great price only to see it cheaper somewhere else.

His colleagues clearly don’t know anything about his private life. Osamu is surprised that he might be able to cook. Hisae, Osama's mom, giggles at the idea that he leaves work every day at 6 to go eat with his girlfriend. Shino is the worst of them. She doesn’t trust a man that good looking who is single and 45. She thinks he must spend a lot of money selfishly buying things at high end grocery stores to eat what he listed. They can’t be further from the truth.

Shiro is not only rushing to get to the market, but he’s also rushing home because he’s decided what to make, and he has to get back home before the rice cooker starts since he’s making something that requires he makes additions to the cooker before it starts. The next bit is like a cooking video, showing us how to make takikoma gohan with Maitake and gobou (burdock root). 

But the show doesn’t merely put this together like a recipe video, we also see how Shiro puts a whole meal together, balancing the takikoma gohan with a miso soup with pork and turnips to balance out the tastes of the Takikoma that he’s making with salted salmon. He also thinks about what he wants to use up in the refrigerator, so he decides to make a stir fry with some of the eggs he has left.

Shino from work would be surprised at his frugality, but this is what people who cook on a regular basis do. You look at the ingredients you have and figure what you can make out of that.
I was only a quarter of the way through this before I thought I could watch a cooking show with Hidetomi Nishijima and be perfectly happy. And his look here is completely contrasted with the placid look at work. His face softens when he cooks. He looks happy to be home.

He looks even happier when he sees Kenji come home.

I would love to hear more about how these two men met and fell in love because they couldn’t be more different. Kenji comes home like a puppy, so excited by the smells and the smiles that greet him at the door. But Shiro is immediately disappointed because Kenji also brings home ice cream from a convenience store. And I have to say, I’m with Shiro completely on this one. Ice cream from a convenience store is super expensive, and Kenji brought home those tiny single serving Haagan Daz things. You can buy a complete gallon of ice cream in a grocery store in the States for what they charge for those little things at the 7-11, so I can’t imagine what they cost in Japan.

But this purchase reflects their different outlook. Kenji knows that it was more expensive, but all he was thinking about was that they had flavors at the convenience store that they don’t have at the grocery store, especially a flavor that Shiro has said he was craving. Shiro is thinking about how they need to be frugal and save for retirement since they don’t have kids to take care of them when they are old. This makes Kenjo sad, and I get the feeling from this that he is the one who is most insecure in the relationship. 

Shiro may not be ready to be “out” publicly with him (which we will find out soon), but Kenji clearly believes that Shiro is better than he is and feels a bit guilty that Shiro won’t have an ideal life with him.

What is interesting about Shiro’s frugality is that he knows he could make more money in a bigger firm, but he likes being able to leave work at 6. I think he likes being able to spend time with Kenji and make him these excellent meals and do the grocery shopping. He says he wants to live well, and I think he believes he is doing that now. Kenji, on the other hand, seems to have doubts about whether this will really keep his lover happy.

You know who isn’t happy about this? Shiro’s mother. She calls to tell Shiro that she has gone to another meet up with people to help him make connections to meet people. It isn’t clear from
their conversation whether she knows that Shiro lives with Kenji or even whether she knows about Kenji at all. She knows her son is gay though, and she wants him to completely come out at work. She lectures him about how being different is actually a wonderful thing. 

But he abruptly disconnects the call.

The next day, we get to see Kenji in his work environment. He clearly is an in demand hairdresser not just because of his skill but because he is a caring listener. He is working on the hair of a repeat and demanding customer. She is going to a wedding and wants something different, and he’s very accommodating. She likes him so much that she asks him out, but he tells her he is gay and brags about Shiro’s looks, his fabulous cooking, and the fact that he is a lawyer. He also feels the need to whisper that he is the “man” in the relationship. All of this shuts her up, and his colleagues are impressed by how she is no longer talking and complaining.

While he is doing this, Shiro is at work talking to the husband of the client we saw before trying to convince him to let her see their son. He still thinks she is crazy, and he says he only will let her see him (even from a distance) if Shiro accompanies her thinking no lawyer would do this. Shiro says yes, but he immediately regrets it and during his after work shopping thinks about all the Sundays he will be giving up. He is so distracted by this that he doesn’t see Kenji come up to him from behind. The dynamic between them is tense. It’s clear that Shiro is worried that people will know they are “together” especially so close to his work. 

But it’s not his work that he should be worried about but Kenji’s. Who shows up but the client from earlier with her husband (yes, she did ask Kenji out) who introduces him to Kenji and assumes that Shiro is his boyfriend. Oh, Kenji, you really didn’t have to talk so much.

Shiro is furious and lets Kenji have it when they get home. He knows that Kenji is out at work, but he doesn’t think that Kenji has a right to out him as well. He doesn’t want people to know that he is gay. He's also offended that just because he's a bottom that makes him "the wife" in the relationship. Kenji has always known that Shiro doesn't want to be out, and he demands that Kenji respects that. He even tells Kenji to leave if he can’t, but we see his concern when Kenji turns and looks like he is actually going to leave.

However, Kenji is just hurt and sorry. He is sorry for putting Shiro is such a spot, and it’s clear that he is sorry that Kenji is so angry. But what made me shed most of my annoyance was when Kenji apologizes to Shiro, breaking down in tears as he complains that everyone else at work talks gets to talk about their family, and he can’t talk about his. Shiro is clearly touched by this, too.

Shiro goes and starts dinner, and all is well when Kenji realizes that Shiro purposely made an onion and garlic dish he likes for tonight’s dinner because he knows that Kenji is off work tomorrow and doesn’t have to worry about the smell with his clients. Shiro, himself, is happy later because their monthly expenses have come in under budget, allowing Kenji to cajole him into eating the ice cream since it clearly didn’t break their budget this month.

We end with them eating the ice cream on the sofa.


As I said earlier, I am really enjoying this show. I have only seen two episodes as I am writing this, but it's a nice slice of life drama with real feelings and some funny bits. Both Kenji's and Shiro's co-workers are going to give us some dry humor, especially in the way they respond to the two of them.

I also really feel the warmth of a long-term relationship. They are committed to each other and know each other in a myriad of ways, which I like to watch. I like their comfy apartment, and I like the idea of Shiro being fine with not pushing to rise because he wants to enjoy life now not just when he is able to retire, a conversation I've been having a lot lately with my colleagues.