Cover Image: The Kamogawa Food Detectives

The Kamogawa Food Detectives

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A father and daughter (the Kamogawas) run a restaurant where they recreate dishes from their patrons’ most cherished memories. It’s almost mystical: they believe these dishes are inextricably linked to their essential happiness. This Japanese bestseller is so popular there that it’s now an 8-book series; happy to see book 1 now being published in English for the first time.

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This was such a unique and cozy read for me!
I initially thought it was going to be a cozy mystery but it’s not really a mystery in the traditional sense. It’s a lovely, lighthearted read. Essentially, people seek out the food detectives when they’re looking to have a meal recreated for them such as one from their childhood, or a meal that a loved one who has passed used to make, or a meal from a restaurant that’s not longer in business, etc.
It reads more like a collection of short stories as each chapter is focused on an individual and the meal they’re seeking from the food detectives.
This is the perfect book for foodies and those that love Japanese culture/cuisine. I personally loved reading about the different kinds of foods that were prepared and I really liked how the book focused on how the food made them feel, as if our feelings and memories are sometimes the most important “ingredient” in a meal.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the copy of this eARC!

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This was a very cozy and quick comforting read - each chapter follows a different person who is looking to re-create a meaningful dish from their past. To do this, they go to The Kamogawa Diner, which is run by a father / daughter duo who are food detectives. The descriptions and detail of the food are very rich. It took me a while to get used to the writing and storytelling style, but by the last few chapters I was enjoying it.

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This book follows a set pattern for each chapter. A new person shows up at the restaurant run by a father and daughter called The Kamogawa Diner in Kyoto, Japan. Every time the person comments on the lack of sign and the outside being in disrepair but finds it cozy. The same verbal pattern is gone through about a dish that they want remade for some personal reason. Bit and pieces of stories are taken down and the person leaves. The book then jumps to when the person returns to eat the food made perfectly to their memories. It is the definition of “cozy” if that also means that all of the action happens off screen. The author does not describe the action needed to find these dishes and it is just told to the returning customer, It takes some suspension of disbelief to believe that they have the money and time while running t a restaurant with two people only to track these down across the entirety of Japan. Also, it seems serendipity and neighbors remembering brands of flour twenty years later plans a large role in figuring this out, especially for the earlier recipes. I also expected a magic realism aspect and while not sure what suggested that to me, it would have made things a little more interesting. The cat on the cover made me thing a cat would play a larger role, but it lives outside the restaurant and regularly shows up for new customers and gets yelled at for getting hair or trying to get inside. There is no character development around the cat, and I think it is there because these kinds of books always have a cat. I adore cats and I don’t think he added anything.

It has lists of Japanese food in what is served in the “set-meal” when the customer first appears. There are many people who seem to really like this part. About the dishes asked by the customer focuses on moments they've had with people they loved, and often regrets of people lost. The book is fast, and I read chapters before bed which was peaceful, and I had no issue putting it down and going to bed, which is not always the case with reading before bed.

I recommend this to anyone who likes quiet and cozy stories about people and enjoys descriptions of food but for me it was only 3 stars.

Thanks to Netgalley for this ARC in exchange for my honest opinion/review.

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This is a lovely! A comp to When the Coffee Gets Cold is accurate, but this is sweeter than that and a little more episodic. I love the relationship between the daughter and the father. I like when he explains the investigation he does. The different people that come through and the food they want makes me feel like I have experienced a large swath of society in just 100 pages.
Sometimes I want to read a book that takes me to a different life and have a lovely experience with that life. This book is just exactly that.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the early review copy.

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I honestly requested this simply for the adorable cat on the cover, and the title made me think a cozy mystery.

And I have never been more delighted to be wrong.

Trying to recreate that perfect nostalgic meal from your childhood? Contact the Kamogawa Detective Agency, where a father and daughter pair will research and recreate that perfect dish.

This was an absolute pleasure to read. It's a short novella made up of several short stories of various clients each coming to the agency looking for help in recreating an important dish from their memory.

The relationship between Koishi and her father Nagare was such fun to read. It's easy to see how much they respect and like each other as they tease and work together to cook the meal their clients are looking for.

What I loved the most about these stories is how deeply entwined food and memory and family are all together. Each person coming to the agency is trying to recapture joy or comfort or connection. And the father and daughter pair act as therapists, detectives, and chefs all wrapped up in one.

This was a genuine joy, and I will be immediately purchasing a copy for my own library as well as keeping an eye out for translations of more of this series.

Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin Group Putnam for this arc.

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"The Kamogawa Food Detectives" by Hisashi Kashiwai is the one of the latest translated cozy novels from Japan that does not disappoint. In this genre, new to me but clearly very popular in Japan, a number of short stories relating to a a single person or place make up a whole novel. In this case, the customers to the Kamogawa Food Detectives come in asking a father-daughter duo to re-create a food of choice for their paying customers, often leading to a meaningful and touching meal relating to something or someone they care about.

This is a light read that goes really quick. It lacks some of the depth that I've seen other books in the genre achieve, but it still has excellent character development of the clients to the detective agency. It also gets a bit repetitive with each character. If you're looking for a book that has a lot of deep commentary on life and love, this isn't the book for you. If you are looking for a book that had incredible descriptions of food and cute, cozy stories about how food affects people and their relationships, this is the one for you!

Thanks to Netgalley and Putnam books for the e-arc!

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When customers try to find the Kamogawa Diner, they are taken aback by the small restaurant that doesn’t even have a sign outside. It’s just a dingy storefront with a cat hanging around the doorway. Most people don’t even believe it’s a restaurant at first, much less a detective agency. But when then come inside and take a seat, and let Koishi and her father Nagare pour some tea and offer a meal, they are convinced they are in the right place.

The first meal in the diner is a set menu, with Nagare bringing out an assortment of dishes so delicious that customers get lost in the flavor for several minutes. Once their hunger is sated, Nagare will lead the customer down the hall, where Koishi will take notes on their case. Usually, it’s someone trying to chase down a memory, or a feeling, one that can be unlocked through a tasty dish that has stuck in their mind for years, maybe decades.

Koishi takes down notes on everything they can remember, asking leading questions and trying to dig out as many facts from the memories as she can. And then her father gets to work, putting all his skill from his former police detective days to good use. He tracks down restaurants, recipes, ingredients, and secrets and recreates the dish. The customer comes back in two weeks to try it, to see if Nagare’s dish matches the one in their memories.

Nagare’s skill as a detective and as a cook helps a woman track down her first love, figure out why a man took his career in an entirely different direction, help a woman connect with her grandfather who is suffering from dementia. The food from their memories helps mend their broken hearts and bandage their wounded souls. All from a humble restaurant in Kyoto that doesn’t even have a sign out front.

The Kamogawa Food Detectives is a small but powerful book about the power of food to infiltrate our memories and our souls. The dishes and flavors that we share with those we love become part of the memories, and as we lose touch with the people, we find we can still feel that connection through the right dish. With a deep understanding of all the things that make us human—our mistakes, our guilt, our shame, our failures, our selfishness—author Hisashi Kashiwai takes it all, mixes it with the foods of our best memories, and heals our weary souls.

I loved this tiny book, but it is bittersweet. It needs to be savored, like the meals it serves up. While it seems like a simple book about a detective making good food, it’s really about reaching into a person’s soul and finding the key to opening them up to a better future. The noodles are a bridge from past memories to future success. The rice paves the way for healing. The sushi heals the soul. There is so much comfort in food, but there can be heartbreak and regret too. The Kamogawa Food Detectives finds that heartbreak and heals it with the food that the mind craves, and in doing that, it heals readers who have a hidden craving for something more too. You do not want to let this book get by you! Devour it as soon as possible.

Egalleys for The Kamogawa Food Detectives were provided by G.P, Putnam’s Sons through NetGalley, with many thanks.

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Such an interesting idea. We probably all have a food we remember eating with a loved one or something special your mom or grandmother made for you as a child. Nagare Kamagowa will find the history of it and try to recreate it for you. He can even set the stage to help the recreation.

This is not a character driven book. While Nagare and Koishi are pleasant enough there is no indication of how they got into this or how the restaurant even survives. It was an easy read although at times could be repetitious. I had just read an amazing book so this one had a lot to live up to and since I have no experience at all with Japanese food I never read the descriptions of the meals thinking oh yes, I have to try that. If it was set in a place or with food I'm familiar with I would have enjoyed it a lot more but in the right hands this book will shine.

Thank you to Netgalley and Penguin Group Putnam for providing me with a digital copy.

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I love food and trying new things which leaves me open to finding something that I will eventually crave but not be able to recreate. The Food Detectives, a father-and-daughter team of detectives/restauranteurs, help others find the ever-elusive dish that combines great food with important memories of a time and/or person they want to find. It’s a beautiful tribute to their loved one to be able to find this one thing that truly stands out to them and the detectives are able to do it. The stories are touching and poignant and I found their techniques to recreate the dishes interesting but I wanted more of this, rather than the final reveal which told them how it was done. I wanted to follow along and see where they were going to get the ingredients but this might have ruined the vibe of the story. Fascinating stories but I was hoping for more of a focus on the food.

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I love this question - "What’s the one dish you’d do anything to taste just one more time?" And how this novel goes about solving this intriguing topic. The premise of a special restaurant was so appealing to me - like a special place that few are invited to enjoy!

Down a quiet backstreet in Kyoto exists a very special restaurant. Run by Koishi Kamogawa and her father Nagare, the Kamogawa Diner serves up deliciously extravagant meals. But that’s not the main reason customers stop by . . .

The father-daughter duo are ‘food detectives’. Through ingenious investigations, they are able to recreate dishes from a person’s treasured memories – dishes that may well hold the keys to their forgotten past and future happiness. The restaurant of lost recipes provides a link to vanished moments, creating a present full of possibility.

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A warm and friendly story about how food and experiences go together and how a special chef and his daughter help find a particular food for their client that they have a fond memory of. However there's a catch the client can't seem to remember where they had it or who created the dish and that is where the Kamogawa Food Detective comes into play.

The book has a number of clients that need help in finding that particular food and it seems that the connection has to do with someone they love and they want to reexperience that connection even if they can't have the connection with that person. Nagare (the chief) and Koishi (daughter) gather the information from the client to find that exact food and the father and daughter team find it every time.
The twosome are fun to read about as they banter among themselves while solving the case and they do it in a loving and kind way for those who need there help.

It's a funny place because it's almost an invisible place to everyone except those who are seeking their help. It reminded me a lot of the story "The way of the Peaceful Warrior," by Dan Millman whose character appeared when someone need their help.

I want to thank PENGUIN GROUP Putnam, G.P. Putnam's Sons and NetGalley for an advance copy of this special story about healing.

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3 solid stars. This book is no plot, but also not very many vibes. There are six short stories of people who come to the restaurant and are looking for the Kamogawa Food Detectives, who recreate meals that people remember but can't recreate themselves. They share details and memories, and then the detectives do their detective work and figure out how to recreate the meal. The stories are sweet (and also bittersweet), and the descriptions of food are delicious. But again, there really isn't any plot, and not all of the stories made sense. And because these are short stories, I didn't necessarily feel like I knew the people looking to solve their food mysteries (nor did I really care).

And this is so not important, but there isn't a cat in the book, even though this is one of the cutest covers I've seen in a while.

Thank you to NetGalley and G.P. Putnam's Sons for providing me with an eARC of The Kamogawa Food Detectives in exchange for my honest review.

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You might not want to read this food mystery on an empty stomach because your mouth will be watering you’ll want to rush out to your favorite Japanese restaurant to try some of the dishes created in this culinary mystery.

Is there a food or meal that conjures up a specific memory for you? Is there a dish your grandma made that you wish you could taste again? I grew up eating my great-grandma’s oatmeal raisin cookies at many family gatherings. Even though I had the recipe, the cookies never turned out quite right until just last year I tried making them again and this time, when I bit into the cookie, I was transported to my childhood. Tears welled in my eyes as I savored the moist cookie as if I were a child again at my great-grandma’s table.

"Get to my age and you’ll realize that nostalgia can be just as vital an ingredient."

That is what this Japanese novel is about. Being transported to a meal that held a lot of meaning for the character in the story. Koishi and her father, Nagare, run the Kamogawa Food Detectives Agency in Kyoto, Japan. After being featured in Gourmet Monthly, people are coming to them to help them recreate a much-loved meal that they are no longer able to find, create, or have made by a loved one. Kioshi takes the information about the meal or dish and presents it to her father who researches, travels, and then creates the meal over the next two weeks.

When the customer returns, Kioshi presents them with the meal they hope is the one they have been missing. Oftentimes, when the story is told about this meal and why it is special, Nagare can also learn about other parts of the customer’s life and offer bits of advice.

Sometimes a book in translation is a bit disjointed to read because the translation doesn’t fit right with the story. Even though there was a lot of repetition in this story and attention to detail I felt like the translation was smooth and readable. I enjoy books in translation because they usually offer a unique insight into the traditions, the food, the culture, and the people of the country where the book is set. This story definitely immerses you in the culture of Japan, especially the food culture, the landscape, and the communities they live in. The idea of someone taking you back in time to recreate a lost family recipe or favorite dish at a now-closed restaurant is a book full of the best kind of comfort.

This is the first book in an expected series.

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The Kamogawa Food Detectives was a collection of short episodes following the lives of Food Detectives living in Kyoto as they help people looking for specific flavors. The writing was easy to follow and lighthearted. This book had a really intricate way of depicting life, love, feelings of loss and moving forward. It had me really rooting for the characters involved and overall, was such a heartwarming story. I really enjoyed this book and am very grateful to have received this ARC from NetGalley.

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The food sounded delicious and such a cozy read. Each story was cute and I loved the certain dishes correlate with certain memories/loved ones. The only thing I wasn’t a fan of is the repetitiveness. I don’t think it’s the book itself. I am just speculating but maybe the translation is a lot different than the original? Overall, it’s a good quick read.

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You won't find the Kamogawa Diner on any map, there are no reviews to be found anywhere, and the only way you'll even know it exists it by reading a small one line ad in Gourmet Monthly. Once you do track down the diner, you'll probably consider passing it up; there are no signs announcing you've found the place and if it weren't for old woman or the middle aged man tucking into a meal you'd think the place was closed down. But, slide the door open anyway, because you're not here for a meal right now anyway, you're here for a service only the Kamaogawa Diner can provide; to recapture the feelings that can only be found when sharing good food with those you love the most.

The Kamogawa Food Detecives was such a wonderfully unique and absolutely adorable book! The book progresses in episodes that feature Kamogawa Nagare and his daughter Koishi as they track down and recreate the dishes that define their relationships and the important moments in time in those relationships. From a woman I'm her seventies who wants to know what could have been to a young CEO who never quite moved on from his mother's death each story is filled with not just mouth watering food (seriously do not read while hungry) and heartwarming stories of simple love. Each of episode was so uplifting I simply couldn't pick just one to feature here.

Overall, this short and incredibly sweet book is perfect for anyone who loves good food but honestly simply if you're just having a bad day and need something positive to read. And I'd say probably obviously just based on the book synopsis if you are a fan of food anime/manga this is definitely up your alley.

As always thanks to Penguin Group Putnam and Netgalley for eArc!

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Heart-warming and mouth-watering. This six-chapter book follows a father and daughter who create dishes of sentimental value. This was such a feel-good book--definitely something to revisit when you need a little warmth in your life!

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***Thanks to NetGalley and G.P. Putnam’s Sons for the eARC copy of this book. My opinions are my own. This book comes out tomorrow!***

“The Kamogawa Food Detectives” was originally published in Japan in 2013 and has just been translated into English for those of us in the United States.

Nagare Kamogawa and his daughter, Koishi, run the Kamogawa Diner, a small non-descript restaurant in Kyoto, Japan. They make delicious food, but their speciality is in their so-called food detecting skills. Customers come to them with a memory of a specific dish that they used to eat that they would like recreated. And the Kamogawas “investigate” the dish and recreate it. And the customer gets closure or an answer to a specific situation.

I liked this and didn’t like this all at the same time.

My likes are that the stories are sweet and cozy. The food sounds amazing. It’s the kind of book that you want to read curled up under a blanket on a rainy day. And also that it’s Japanese. I haven’t read a lot of Japanese authors and I am trying to diversify my reading.

My dislikes, I think, are mainly with the publishers and with how they presented this book. The book isn’t really one cohesive story. It’s six independent short stories. And they are VERY repetitive - to the point that I wanted to throw it against the wall when I started the last one and yet again, it was the same as the first five. I’m only slightly exaggerating here, but it was like a MadLibs story. It’s like there was a template and and the author just filled in the blanks with a new character and a new dish. But everything else about each story was the same - down to the description of the hallway or the exterior of the restaurant. How many times do I need to be told what the hallway looks like?

Maybe this is a translation problem. Maybe the translator made everything sound the same, I don’t know. But if this book was presented as a book of short stories, I may have enjoyed the experience better. I’ve been wondering if back when this was originally published, if the stories were published individually of each other in a monthly magazine or something and then they were collected in this volume, because that would also explain things. But the ARC that I read came with zero explanation.

Also, the way in which the stories are told is very different to way Americans tell stories. This is not a detective story in the way Americans think of a detective story. In this book, each short story is divided into two parts. In the first part, the customer comes to the restaurant and tells the duo about the dish they want recreated with some clues to its origin. The second part, the customer comes back two weeks later and the father tells the customer what he did to find the recipe and then he presents the dish. The customer gets closure. The end. We never get a middle investigative section. It’s very peculiar from a Western standpoint. I wonder and think it’s highly likely that I’m culturally missing something. Like I know that different cultures tell stories in different ways. And they have different tropes. And there are things that are intrinsic to their culture that I’m ignorant of. And that’s all completely fair and valid. Westernized culture isn’t and shouldn’t be considered the cultural standard. But I do think that IF that is the case here, then the publishers should have had an introduction to explain things.

Or have marketed this differently as a collection of short stories. Because there isn’t a lot intrinsically wrong with these stories outside of the repetition. I don’t not recommend it. It’s about 200 pages long, divided into 6 stories. You could maybe read one a night before bed. But I do think going into this book with the correct mind frame about what you’re getting into would help a lot. Because it is sweet and cozy and heartwarming and yummy.

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The Kamogawa Food Detectives
The Kamogawa Food Detectives Series - Book 1
Disclaimer - This is Not a Romance Genre Book
By Hisashi Kashiwai, Translated by Jesse Kirkwood

G.P. Putnam's Sons - February 2024 (US English)


Have you ever had a meal that is often remembered, but never duplicated? That one meal that haunts you, beacause there is something unique to the dish? Then if you are in Japan and able to get to Kyoto, you are in luck. Nagare and his daughter Koishi run a restaurant, but in the back is where the magic is. People come, Koishi interrogates them, then Nagare uses his past skills as a police officer to track down the unique ingredients and recipes.

This is not a story where there is an overlaying story arc, instead it is really a series of short stories. A person will come, tell them about the dish and memories about the day, then they return and we discover if Nagare was able to work his magic.

The Kamogawa Food Detectives is a fascinating glimpse into Japanese culture and cuisine. I loved the descriptions of the various meals and of the places the different characters had been. Since the storylines really don’t connect, it is a nice read for when you have short bursts of time. There is also a resident cat who makes occasional appearances named Drowsy. A perfect name for a cat. It says there is a second book, and I will definitely keep an eye out for it.

Kathy Andrico -

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