Restaurant to Another World
Episodes 1-3

by Rebecca Silverman,

How would you rate episode 1 of
Restaurant to Another World ?

How would you rate episode 2 of
Restaurant to Another World ?

How would you rate episode 3 of
Restaurant to Another World ?

There's something undeniably wonderful about a dish you only get to eat every so often. Whether it's fried dough at the county fair for one week in September, a holiday meal you have once a year, or the memory of a pastry eaten in a foreign country, food can be both special and comforting. That's the sentiment that drives Restaurant to Another World, at least in these first three episodes: the promise of a treat only available once a week, when the magic door opens to Nekoya Western Restaurant across myriad worlds.

These first episodes seem like an extended introduction to the characters who will populate the restaurant, a theory seemingly borne out by the fact that members of the group arguing over what goes best with rice in episode one play a bigger role in episode two, specifically the man who looks like a Japanese swordsman. His repeated presence and eventual guidance of another customer to Nekoya indicates that characters form a relationship with both the restaurant and the owner-chef himself; two characters in episodes two and three respectively are actually the granddaughters of previous customers. (So an addiction to Japanese cooking skips a generation..?) This little bit of worldbuilding also allows us to understand that Nekoya has been time-hopping for at least three generations now, and that time does seem to move at the same pace no matter what world people are in.

There's certainly a lot of potential here for relationships formed among customers, although I'm not entirely confident that it will pan out due to the fact that everyone, even those who at first recoil at the sight of her horns, has a non-reaction to Aletta. It's not that I want to see this show turn into a metaphor for diversity and inclusion (although that wouldn't be bad), but it would be nice to see a bit more acknowledgement of the prejudices Aletta faced before becoming a server. Be that as it may, the idea that friendships could form despite being realized only once a week at Nekoya is an intriguing one, especially since it opens the possibility of a discussion of how the doors work – if two people from different worlds go through at the same time, do they each go to their respective worlds? What about if they're touching? Since the opening theme shows Sarah and Heinrich arguing over sauce, indicating a cross-world interaction in their shared space, it's an idea worth exploring.

The weak point of these episodes thus far is the lack of much plot. While episode one varies the formula, both episodes two and three follow the same basic pattern of a person finding the restaurant, discovering an amazing new dish, and then returning once the Day of Satur rolls around again. (I'm not thrilled with that translation for a variety of nit-picky reasons.) Both episodes even feature a granddaughter tracking down her grandfather's beloved restaurant, with mention of how the owner misses the deceased. While it is heartwarming, and seeing everyone have a delighted reaction to the tasty-looking food is nice, it does start to feel a little old, which isn't a great sign three episodes in.

On the other hand, if you're just looking for a nice feel-good show, this more than fits the bill. Even without significant character interactions, each segment features someone who needs the reassurance of a good hot meal, and seeing the owner's relationships with each of them is charming, especially in the case of Thomas, who learned to make pasta from his visits there and pays in otherworld veggies for the owner to experiment with. It's also the kind of show that really makes you think about your own favorite foods and when you first had them – and why some things will never taste quite the same if not eaten in the time and place where they were first consumed. It isn't as sweet as Sweetness & Lightning, but it has a similar feel, and you definitely don't want to watch hungry.

Restaurant to Another World may just end up being little stories about different fantasy people stumbling into Nekoya on a Saturday. While I'd be mildly disappointed in that outcome, it wouldn't ruin the show. There's a charm to Nekoya and its meals that can withstand a lack of character development, and since the show seems to be building its world along with its menu, things should remain just fine.

Rating: B

Restaurant to Another World is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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