Review copy was received from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
The Nameless Restaurant by Tao Wong
Narrator: Emily Woo Zeller
Series: Hidden Dishes #1
Published by Dreamscape Media on June 1, 2023
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal
Length: 3 hours, 10 minutes
Amazon, Audible, Audiobook
There is a restaurant in Toronto. Its entrance is announced only by a simple, unadorned wooden door, varnished to a beautiful shine but without paint, hidden beside dumpsters and a fire escape. There is no sign, no indication of what lies behind the door.
If you do manage to find the restaurant, the décor is dated and worn. Homey, if one were to be generous. The service is atrocious, the proprietor a grouch. The regulars are worse: silent, brooding, and unfriendly to newcomers. There is no set menu, alternating with the whim and whimsy of the owner. The selection of wine and beer is sparse or non-existent at times, and the prices for everything outrageous.
There is a restaurant in Toronto that is magically hidden, whose service is horrible, and whose food is divine. This is the story of the Nameless Restaurant.
The Nameless Restaurant is the first book in a in the Hidden Dishes series currently focused around a restaurant in Toronto that is so hidden by magic you basically have to stumble into, unless you are magical and just happen to know where it is. This reads half like a food blog and half like a urban fantasy.
A new customer has just shown up to the restaurant she has been searching for for months. There is a magical person running the joint who might just be the best chef of Asian cuisine but almost no one knows because there are so many wards on the restaurant it is probably one of the hardest places in the world to find, unless you know what you are looking for or you are a powerful Djinn just released from imprisonment.
I think for someone to really enjoy this short story you have to like cooking to some extent. There is a lot of time spent on how dishes are prepared and what the food looks like. If you are not into cooking, how to cook or preparation it will get boring. I’m very into food and cooking but think some of that should be reduced in future books if the author wants to capture a larger audience.
Overall this seems like a good prequel or set up story to a series of a larger scope. There is enough about the customers, the magical community and the mystery of the man behind the wok that I’d be interested in knowing more.
Just remember this is set up kind of like Cheers (which dates me but I think people still know about) all the characters go to a location that is the center of the story, so no real action happening but dialogue and good times.
Emily Woo Zeller is an accomplished narrator and I always enjoy her performance in a story. She gets it right every time, capturing the characters and setting with words. There is no exception in this book, she brings a stellar performance yet again. I was able to listen at my usual 1.5x speed.
Listen to a clip: HERE
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