Welcome to Western Restaurant Nekoya. Found in a corner of Tokyo, this restaurant has a door that connects to magical worlds that the inhabitants can use to visit and have a warm meal. While everyone likes a delicious dish, to these mystical visitors, the seemingly normal food has even more meaning.
Based on a web novel, Restaurant to Another World (Isekai Shokudō) revolves around the magical patrons of a restaurant run by a male owner (only known as “Master”) who serves food like fried shrimp, teriyaki chicken, and parfaits. He ends up hiring Aletta—a demon who has been ostracized by both humans and other demons due to her lack of demon-like features except for her little horns—as a waitress. She can work only on Saturdays, however—i.e., the only day the restaurant is open to customers from the other worlds, including lizardmen, elves, dragons, and dwarves. Customers can enter a mysterious door seemingly leading to nowhere once per week to go to the restaurant.
Each of the customers has their own reason for being there. For example, a knight who loses a battle wanders in the desert, parched and famished, only to be saved by the door’s appearance and Master’s cooking. While he initially just wanted to escape from death’s door by consuming food and water, he finds himself departing on an emotional journey to his hometown while eating shrimp. In his world, a similar creature exists, but he hadn’t eaten it since he left his home to become a knight. The Master’s cooking offers not only nutrients, but comfort for the lost souls that wander into his kitchen.
But the Master is not the only one to have owned the restaurant. No, in fact, he inherited it from his grandfather ten years before the anime’s story begins. Since his grandfather’s generation, the restaurant has been dishing out food to patrons from other worlds. Good customer service and food over so many years leads to some of its customers’ offspring visiting the restaurant. By eating the food that their relatives enjoyed so much, they’re able to make a stronger emotional connection with them, and sometimes, gain the strength they need to move forward in life.
Image Source: ニュータイプ編集部／WebNewtype on Twitter
Adelheid, the princess of a great empire, for example, was brought to the restaurant as a child. Because of her lonely life in the palace, her memories with her now-deceased grandfather are some of her fondest. She is able to relive her time with him by eating the same food he ordered for her, and gain the strength and courage to make change to her own life.
Similarily, the grandfather of an adventurer named Sarah was a regular to the restaurant, often eating mincemeat cutlets. Since he was also a treasure hunter, he left her a treasure map leading her straight to his favorite place: Nekoya. While there, she gets to hear things about her grandfather, and also feels a stronger connection to him by eating his favorite food.
Food is a powerful tool. Everyone has one or two foods that make them feel at home or remember where they come from. For me, I would do anything to get a taste of Creole food. Just like the characters of Restaurant to Another World, it reminds me of a more peaceful time and of my hometown and family, both of which are currently so far away from me.
Just by glimpsing at the worlds the magical characters come from, it’s pretty obvious that everything’s not peachy all the time. There’s war, racism, and illness. Just for one day a week, the restaurant Nekoya gives its otherworldly customers a place of respite and emotional comfort, letting them forget their woes from their lives.
If you feel fatigue from your everyday life, a hop over to Nekoya might be just what you need.