Midnight Diner is Food for the SOUL!

I’ve recently got hooked on a hidden gem of a TV series. It’s a Japanese slice of life drama called ‘Shinya Shokudo’ which translates as Midnight Diner. It started in 2009 and five seasons have been made so far, with Seasons 4 and 5 having a slightly different title: Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories. These recent seasons were produced by Netflix and this is where you can find the show. But be careful because it’s easy to start watching from Season 4 and completely miss the first three seasons.

“Master” played by Kaoru Kobayashi

Midnight Diner is about a tiny Japanese restaurant in Shinjuku, Tokyo that is open from midnight to 7 a.m. It’s run by a man who everyone calls “Master”. He has a very limited menu with only one dish, a kind of pork stew, and three drinks: beer, sake and shochu. But he will prepare any dish the customer requests, so long as he has the ingredients. The customers order the kinds of dishes that you don’t usually get at a typical Japanese restaurant. They are often comfort foods more commonly prepared at home. Each dish has a special meaning to the customer and we usually learn the customer’s story during the episode.

The episodes are only 30 minutes long and there are ten episodes per season. I am currently close to the end of Season 2 and am really enjoying it. This is a sentimental and emotional drama with moments of comedy as well as tragedy. Some may find it a bit too schmaltzy, a bit too emotional, but it’s hard not to be moved by this show. These people feel like real people, their stories are relatable. They are flawed, they make mistakes and like real life they don’t always get the fabled “happy ending”. I’m not ashamed to admit that at times I had tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat. At other times I was smiling, laughing and feeling that warm glow you get from the best in entertainment.

Give it a try if you’d like to get a glimpse of modern Japan and the people who live here. Yes, it’s a work of fiction and things are exaggerated, but I think it is a very realistic window into this fascinating country. It could be just what you are looking for. It may even become your new favourite show. Warning: contains Feelings!


As always, thanks for reading!

-Wakizashi, *looking for a similar restaurant in the small town where I live!*

I talk about the TV Series for the first 55 mins of this Livestream
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17 thoughts on “Midnight Diner is Food for the SOUL!

    • It was originally a Japanese TV production. This is from Wiki: “The show has been a success in Japan, with five seasons produced in 2009, 2011, 2014, 2016, and 2019. To date, two theatrical feature films were produced by TBS and MBS: Midnight Diner (2014) and Midnight Diner 2 (2016). The fourth season (released as Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories) was produced in 2016 by Netflix Japan. Netflix Japan purchased streaming and production rights from the original Japanese producers to produce the fourth and the fifth series, which are shown on Netflix internationally. Netflix began streaming the first three seasons separately under the original title “Midnight Diner” in June 2020.”

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      • Almost finished season 1. So glad you recommended this. I love how the stories are both sad and funny, and that it concentrates on characters who visit the diner – though I’ve noticed some of the regular customers are starting to get a bit of a backstory. Love too how it gives a few recipe tips towards the end of each episode. Really cool concept of a show. Thanks again šŸ˜Ž

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        • I’m near the end now, still totally hooked on the show. There are two movies between the original 3 seasons and the two Netflix seasons. It has been so much fun, moving, uplifting, even saddening at times. I don’t want to finish it…hoping for a new season in the future…

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  1. I suspect I’d enjoy this. It vaguely brings to mind another I enjoyed called Wakakozake about a young woman working in an office job who spends her free time in various restaurants, bars, izakaya, etc. She loves drinking and good food, and somehow I love the show. There’s really no plot to it, just episode after episode of her eating and drinking. šŸ™‚

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    • Thanks Todd. I had a search for Wakako-zake and it’s available for rental on Prime Japan. It looks fun. These kinds of eating & drinking programs seem to be very popular these days. There are a lot of similar shows that have started popping up on my recommendations.

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    • Yes, me too. I’ve really fallen in love with this series. The slice of life stories and the simple comfort dishes are so enjoyable. I’ve seen Samurai Gourmet in my recommendations, so I will check it out. I appreciate your comment and recommendation.

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