Run Time: 127 minutes
Hot. Sour. Salty. Sweet. The tongue's four basic sensations, as identified by Asian culinary artists more than a millenium ago, could also chart upheavals in Chinese history during Hatsue Sato's life. Japanese by ethnicity, she was born in Jinan, China, where Chinese cuisine is said to have begun, the first cookbook written. She learned traditional Shandong cuisine in the 1930s before the brutal Japanese occupation of WWII and Chairman Mao's Cultural Revolution eradicated such ancient customs. Now Hatsue and Koroku, her husband of 40 years, run an authentic Shandong restaurant in Tokyo. Feeling too old to "swing the wok" in the kitchen, Hatsue considers returning to Jinan to teach true Shandong for a fresh generation at an eminent chefs' school, where the little woman and her food skills are revered. But Koroku doesn't want to uproot himself. And repeat visits to Jinan leave a bitter aftertaste, as Hatsue learns the fates of peers from the old days and finds her status as a "living fossil" of Chinese cuisine is not exactly a compliment. A feast for for both epicures and non-gourmets alike, the ingredients on the menu of Li Ying's documentary recall the finest dramatic work of Ozu and Zhang Yimou.
Zhang Yi, Tateishi Atsushi
Li Ying, Miyachika Shigenori
Sato Hatsue, Sato Koroku, Liu Guangwei