Anyone who’s ever tried to draw knows that depicting food looks appetizing and not just like a buffet of brown shapes is hard. But anime has a way of making eating look amazing. Sure, sitting down to a magical feast might turn your parents into pigs and leave you to navigate your way through a haunted bathhouse until you can lift the curse, but the noodles look so enticing, sometimes better than the real thing, so maybe it’s worth the pig parents. TikTok user Michael Chow is illuminating the beautiful use of food in anime by recreating animated food scenes with actual cooking.
There’s nothing too complicated here. The frying of an egg until the edges are crispy, the sprinkling of green onion, the slicing of a juicy tomato. But watching golden broth flood and pool into a bowl of noodles — both animated and real — makes it all more sensual. Yes, the animation looks more appetizing, the shine on a fresh cracked egg as it seeps into a bowl of rice is all the more lustrous when an illustrator can choose the lighting, but Chow’s versions are tempting if only because someone actually gets to eat them.
Some of these scenes are from Flavors of Youth, on Netflix, a food-centric anthology film about life in China. Chow did not respond to our request for comment, but he’s no stranger to the world of food TikTok, which often is about making some really calming content. Here he is slicing through a bunch of desserts, and stirring a cappuccino in a soothing loop. But the two anime cooking videos he’s posted so far are more than just evocative reminders of how enticing a spoonful of honey can look. They show that all that’s different from our own home cooking and the world of anime is some storyboarding and angle work. Your own noodles may take a little more effort and look unpolished, but at least you get to slurp them and not turn into a pig.