The Nameless Restaurant is a quietly written and interesting novella length intro to a new fantasy cooking series by Tao Wong. Due out 1st June 2023, it's 125 pages and will be available in ebook and audio formats.
This is a quirky entirely setting driven novella which is background and world building for a presumed upcoming series based in and around a hidden fantasy restaurant in modern day Toronto. The restaurant is the work of one cook (who is more or less immortal) and his waitress, a perky young woman who lost her family to a magical attack.
For foodies who like fantasy, this might fill the bill. There are extensive, admittedly interesting, descriptions of food and cooking. The author *clearly* has done his research. The food in this installment is entirely Southeast Asian inspired. Despite being a huge fan of Malaysian, Thai, and Korean food, he describes ingredients and cooking methods of which I was previously unaware.
Reading/listening to the book will probably make readers hungry. Not recommended for late night reading unless one is in a large metropolitan area with 24 hour takeaway eateries conveniently accessible.
The unabridged audiobook has a run time of 3 hours and 11 minutes and is capably narrated by Emily Woo Zeller. She has a nuanced, neutral accent, and a young voice. She does a good job with the disparate accents (a djinn, a frost giant, and others) and long, very involved descriptions of cooking and the resultant dishes produced.
There are a fair number of restaurant based fantasy settings, from Spider Robinson's Callahan series to Travis Baldree's Legends and Lattes, to 2021's buzz book Under the Whispering Door by T.J. Klune. This one is a *lot* more food intensive and a lot less plot driven than any of those, but it might whet the appetite. It's an indie published story, and there isn't any indication in the review materials when the next installment is coming, but it does seem to be in the works.
Three and a half stars. Short and interesting read.
Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.
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