Pre-grated parmesan from a container? Bruh. Did they have to make it look so much like Kraft, too? I can let the wing “gyoza” thing slide, but c’mon man, you couldn’t bother to grate parmesan cheese on the fly? Actually, let’s back that up a bit: I’m not sure I can let the wing “gyoza” thing slide. Dude, that’s just Thai angel wings. Why are we calling it a gyoza? If he had removed the chicken skin, then used it like a dumpling wrapper, then sure. That’s kinda gyoza-ish. But let’s just call a spade a spade, and Yukihira definitely made angel wings. After all, Eizan made Hainanese chicken rice, a.k.a. khao mun gai. It’s almost as if Thai cuisine served as the underlying inspiration, and yet, we’re pulling all sorts of mental acrobatics to call those angel wings “gyozas.” Sure, sure.
Yukihira cooks up some Thai angel wings with parmesan cheese and a sweet and sour sauce that includes ketchup as a major component. Luckily, he didn’t use Heinz. Like I thought he would, our hero had help from his Polar Star Dormitory friends to help conceive this dish. As a result, the tomatoes came from their garden, which is a nice touch. The speech he ends up giving at the end of the match is a little corny — and absolutely predictable — but it at least makes thematic sense, I guess. And even though I’m not blown away by his “gyoza” concoction, it probably does taste better than Eizan’s khao mun gai. I’m biased, though; I’ve never been a big fan of poached chicken. On the other hand, an umami bomb disguised as a crispy stuffed wing sounds like a nice snack on gameday.
Plus, Eizan’s dish is lazy in its presentation. Just look at that domed rice sitting on the side. But the biggest offender of all is the lazy salad with those half-assed cherry tomatoes and cucumbers. Dude, just because you’re cooking a rustic dish doesn’t mean you need to serve it like it just came out of a B-rate Asian kitchen. I can go to any Thai place downtown and get a dish that looks exactly like that. For 8.95. Sure, sure, his refined technique makes every ingredient sing, but presentation is part of the grade. Nothing bores me more than that sort of lazy, generic salad that is basically an afterthought, a pitiful clump of vegetables that are thrown in with every takeout order. I certainly wouldn’t expect that from the so-called Alchemist of cooking. He then goes and serves everything with a soup spoon.
If I must dock Yukihira for anything, it’s that his dish doesn’t really look, well, complete. It’s just angel wings and sauce. So an appetizer, basically; it’s missing a component. For example, Eizan had his rice and shitty salad. They were lazily presented, but it’s still a composed dish. But whatever. At the end of the day, you gotta reward ingenuity and resourcefulness, so even if the two dishes tasted equally great, Yukihira wins hands down for at least taking a risk. In a pinch, Eizan opts to fall back on a signature dish, because he did not even intend to cook at all. He thought he could crush Yukihira’s spirit with his shenanigans, so he ends up phoning it in. He also lets Yukihira get to him. He already bought out the judges. If Eizan had just stood his ground, he would’ve won, but alas, it’s hard to stand between a man and his foolish pride.
But did you know that Eizan is a consultant with hundreds and hundreds of successful contracts under his belt? In fact, he brings in tons of money for the school. Like with all the culinary geniuses on this show, you can’t help but wonder why he’s even attending Totsuki Academy. If I’m already raking in cash hand over fist, you bet your ass I wouldn’t waste my time with some dinky school and its affairs. Help Azami take over the academy and implement a new cooking regime? Who gives a shit? I’m already taking over the industry! Everyone and their mothers want me as their consultant. I’m currently shaping the culinary world as we speak! And when these starry-eyed kids graduate from Totsuki Academy and fail at their first cooking gig — ‘cause 60% of new restaurants fail in their first year — they’ll all turn to me anyway! But predictable anime’s gotta anime, so Eizan gets his ass-whuppin’ from some upstart kid.
In the end, Yukihira saves his dorm, and in doing so, he also inspires everyone across campus to ganbatte it up. Just in the nick of time, too, ‘cause who knows how long his friends could’ve held out. Oh yeah, the kids back at Polar Star Dormitory manage to repel Eizan’s goons with the help of riot gear. According to the dorm’s matron, students used to storm the place during the golden age out of jealousy, so uh, riot gear! It’s just funny because for a prestigious academy, Totsuki really seems like a dangerous place for its students. And while everyone’s busy fighting for their home, all Erina does is sit and wonder to herself, “Wow, these people sure are something else!” You go, girl! Go be that house plant!