Food can hold lots of important memories, whether it’s special treats our parents used to make for us, recipes and traditions that have been passed down through the generations or just memories of having fun eating with friends or family. Our Dining Table is both a treatise on the importance that cooking and dining with others plays in our lives and an adorable romance and story about finding family.
Yutaka has trouble eating with other people due to the bad memories it brings back and he has become isolated and lonely in his adult life, not knowing how to reach out to others and form new bonds. One day he is approached by a child named Tane while he’s eating his lunch in the park and he winds up sharing some rice balls he made with the hungry kid. When Tane’s older brother shows up and hears how much Tane loved Yutaka’s cooking he asks him to come visit them and show him how to make the rice balls. Yutaka agrees without thinking and soon he becomes fast friends with both Minoru and Tane. As they cook and share meals together, Yutaka finds his heart being healed of its old scars and something more than friendship starts to develop between him and Minoru. But after experiencing so much loss in his life, will Yutaka have the courage to take their relationship to the next level?
For a manga that focuses so much on meals and eating there are a surprisingly small number of recipes featured in this book. Instead of concentrating on the food itself, Our Dining Table is more about the importance that cooking and eating play in our lives, not just as a way of getting sustenance but as a social act. Yutaka was adopted after his parents and then his grandparents died. His new siblings, particularly his new brother, weren’t too keen on him being added into their family and one of the ways they ostracized him was by making him feel so unwelcome at the dinner table that he started eating by himself. Eating together is a common and important part of family life and Yutaka was never able to feel like he was a part of the family that took him in. This led to his complex about eating in front of other people and this in turn made it hard for him to make friends, as going out to eat or out for drinks is a common social activity. People at his office came to think of him as being unfriendly because he would never join them for drinks and, after a while, they just stopped inviting him. Yutaka also can’t seem to enjoy eating anymore and just buys most of his meals and doesn’t really bother cooking much for himself, aside from rice balls. This all changes when Yutaka meets Minoru and Tane, they make him feel so comfortable that he’s finally able to work through the painful memories that were plaguing him and he’s able to start relishing eating again, thanks to having people he cares about to share meals with. This also leads him to have better relationships with the people at his work, who start talking to him more once he starts attending some of their social functions.
In addition to just being something that people do together, cooking can be an act of caring, both for yourself and for others. Minoru and Tane’s mother has passed away and Minoru wants to learn to cook so that he can make sure that Tane eats well, which was what initially inspired him to ask Yutaka to teach him his rice ball recipe. He also cooks soup for Yutaka when he’s sick. This soup is one of the few things that Minoru knows how to make, because it is something that his mother taught him so that he could make it when she was sick. Yutaka hasn’t had anyone around to take care of him in a long time and appreciates Minoru’s efforts. He also reassures Minoru that he’s doing an excellent job of taking care of Tane just by being there for him and helping to make his meals fun.
The romance between Minoru and Yukata builds slowly and naturally over the course of the manga. Yutaka becomes more cheerful and open thanks to having a friend to spend his free time with and Minoru becomes less tense thanks to Yutaka’s influence. They are really sweet together and I found the way their story unfolded to be very interesting, as the major obstacle they need to overcome isn’t actually realizing their feelings for each other, as is so often the case in romance stories. The main hurdle standing in the way of their happily ever after comes after they’ve confessed their mutual feelings for each other and have essentially started dating. Yutaka has been lonely for many years and is happy to be with Minoru, but he’s also terrified. He lost his parents at a young age and then his grandparents a few years later. He doesn’t think that he could handle loosing another family and that is essentially what would happen if he and Minoru were to ever break up. I found Yukata’s fears to be very understandable and the conclusion he finally comes to after struggling with these feelings, and getting some sage advice from Minoru and Tane’s father, was very moving. This is one of the most genuinely touching love stories I’ve read in a while!
Our Dining Table was a very emotional and heartwarming story and I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it. I heartily recommend this manga to BL fans or people who enjoy stories of found family. It’s also a pretty tame read in terms of romantic scenes, so I think this would also be a good introduction book for someone who doesn’t normally read BL, but who is interested in giving it a try.
Final Score: 8 out of 10
For more information on this manga, visit Seven Seas Entertainment’s website: https://sevenseasentertainment.com/series/our-dining/
What did you think of this manga? Did anyone else want to eat those rice balls? Let me know in the comments.
Be sure to also check out some of my other BL manga reviews:
- Given Vol 1 Review
- Don’t Call Me Dirty Review
- Yarichin Bitch Club Vol 1 Review
- The Cornered Mouse Dreams of Cheese Review
- Melting Lover Review
- The Wize Wize Beasts of the Wizarding Wizdoms Review
- Love in Limbo Series Review
- Fourth Generation Head: Tatsuyuki Oyamato Review
- Monster and the Beast Vol 1 Review