Romance Books

The restaurant of LOVE regained * Ito Ogawa

The world is so much bigger than you know, and if you set your mind to it you can go anywhere. It’s just a flight away, whether you want to go eat hippo meat in Tanzania, or anything!


The Japanese novels, by their nature, in the eyes of a Westerner are a bit strange. All the cultural background that is behind each line is completely different from that which accompanies the books that we usually read.

The Restaurant of Love Regained shows this feeling more alive than ever before.
Written in a style so light and flowing, similar to a mountain stream coming down from the mountain top, settling in a slow and placid flow, then fast and rapid towards the end. A perfect style for describing many scenes full of emotions.The plot is more of an outline hiding a message from the author rather than a series of events that lead to a conclusion. Nothing is forced, nothing is out of place but the story is not very credible.

Place your feet firmly on the ground and let yourself breathe.

Broken-hearted Rinko (whose name could possibly come from furin (Love Child)) stoically returns to the isolated village that holds long buried memories of a fractured relationship with her mother. With internalised grief rendering her unable to speak, Rinko channels her energies into opening a unique restaurant, and gradually finds empowerment through the healing power of food. She reminisces of her failed relationship with her Indian boyfriend, about the foods that they used to make together and it makes you think that love really goes through a man’s stomach!

Back in the village, life is slower, quieter and marginally more intense in colours and flavours it evokes in Rinko. Her mother now has a pet pig, her restaurant is called Amour (not after love in French but after a search of meaning). The people visiting Rinko’s new restaurant are unique in their problems and the foods they are served are unique in feelings.

Rinko’s name is essential to the story as it’s not actually from Furin  but from ethics (rinrigaku). Rinko is what her mother and her grandmother never were. Unique women, not attached to any man in particular but strong enough to forge their own path in silence.

The Restaurant of Love Regained is essentially a romantic cook book seasoned with a bit of fiction. Nevertheless, charmingly optimistic characters and some shocking revelations are delicacies that complement the mouth-watering recipes. Clunky translation rendering this quirky novel a starter rather than a main, but the overall reader experience is pleasant and appetising.