Not all of Japan’s samurai served their master in combat, some also worked in the kitchens as this supposed ‘true story’ reminds us. Skills were expected to be passed from generation to generation. But when a respected chef loses the son he assumed would follow in his footsteps, he has to persuade his other, swordsman son to put down his blade and take up cookery. Enter a strong-willed maid with refined taste buds and the prospect of an arranged marriage which might change the proud warrior’s perspective.
An intriguing premise doesn’t get the movie that far however, since everything plods along with little on-screen chemistry between the would-be couple and far too much opaquely presented political intrigue about which we could care less. Things pick up when the attention turns to the exquisitely crafted food, which looks mouth watering, but doesn’t really feature enough in the otherwise un-involving story. If only the film shared the old chef’s genuine passion for regional Japanese cuisine then this might have been one to savour.