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File:CookingMasterBoy1 7787.jpg

"We Chefs cook to bring happiness to the people!"

Chūka Ichiban! (meaning "China's Number One") is a manga and anime (the latter known as Cooking Master Boy in anglophone countries) about a Chinese boy named Liu Mao Xing, who aspires to be a great chef like his mother. The story is set in a fictional Imperial China where cooking is taken seriously. It is entirely possible to be banned from cooking just by losing a competition, even if your dish was of adequate quality. Chefs of varying degrees of proficiency are recognized and awarded by the Empire, and the most coveted title of all, the Supreme Master Chef title, is Mao's penultimate goal.

After passing the grueling and highly competitive Supreme Master Chef examinations, Mao gets qualified for the title and decides to travel China in order to improve his cooking skills more. however, things take a dark turn as the Underground Cooking Society, an evil organization trying to take control of China through Culinary proficiency, begins a search for seven magical cooking items. Now Mao has to get the items first before the society lays a hand on them and eventually use them to control China.

Tropes used in Chuuka Ichiban include:
  • Actually, I Am Him: To avoid unwanted publicity, Mao covered his Supreme Master Chef's seal with a white cloth and only reveals it when somebody asks him whom he really is. The people just realized that they just met the youngest Supreme Master Chef in China.
  • Anime Chinese Girl: Mei Li. Naturally, since the story is set in China.
  • Badass Grandpa: Master Ruoh, the head chef of Yang Spring Restaurant in Guangzhou. He rarely cooks anymore due to his age, but he is not called the "Superman of Guangzhou Cuisine" for nothing.
  • BFS: Master Ruoh possesses a "knife" that can split a cow in half with a single swing, which he demonstrates to the main characters. He actually needs to focus his internal strength before using it.
  • Bishonen: Lan Fei Wong. Also Known as Fei. Yeah, Fei.
  • Book Ends: Mao and Shou An's rivalry started with the former defeating the latter in a cooking match with tofu as the main ingredient. They settled the score one and for all using tofu again as the main ingredient.
  • Brainwashed: Fei by the Underground Cooking Society.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: Token Japanese kid Shirou.
  • The Bus Came Back
    • Sanche. He left Guangzhou to return to Shanghai in order to make amends with his estranged father. He fought alongside Mao and company against the Underground Cooking Society when Mao and the gang visited Shanghai.
    • Also in Shanghai, Shou An resurfaced again to exact revenge on Mao for stripping him of his senior chef status.
    • Fei also counts, disappearing after the Supreme Master Chief competition with Mao but showing up at the end of the anime as the Final Boss.
  • Chaste Hero: Mao, until he realizes that he loves Mei Li too.
  • Chef of Iron
    • Shell. Because this is a show about cooking, it's surprising that only Shell can actually kick butt in the physical sense.
    • Leon can also hold his mettle over attackers pretty well (given that he is on the run from the Underground Cooking Society), but his disdain for violence prevents him from actually being one.
  • Chekhov's Gun: A heavy, black, apparently worthless stone that comes from Mao's kitchen tools turns out to be a special stone that when put on boiling water, alkalizes the water in order to create firmer noodles.
  • The Chosen One: Shan An and Leon battled for the right to possess the Seven-Star Knives, as there can be only one existing set in the world. Shan An cheated and demoralized Leon so badly that he almost gave up, but Luo Xie's spirit appeared and chose Leon to be the wielder of the set.
  • Cooking Duel: The show revolves around this. And in this world of cooking, reputations are put on the line.
  • Dark Chick / Dragon Lady: Shan An. Turns out to be also Ms. Fanservice after removing her cloak.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Aapplies to an ingredient. In one episode, Mao and company visited a town where the main industry is raising poultry, and one particular restaurant is shunned and hated by the townsfolk for raising "cursed" black chickens for food. Mao recognizes the birds for what they are, uses them for cooking, and reveals to the town that the "cursed" birds are actually the rare breed of Chinese Silkie.
  • Dragons Up the Yin-Yang: The Chinese Dragon is a recurring theme in the series.
    • The Supreme Master Chef's seal is a dragon coiling around the Chinese character for "super".
    • The Dragon represents Mao himself, while a dark steed represents the Underground Cooking Society, as evidenced by their seals.
    • Yeah, Dragon Dumplings. Mao made one with the ability to fly unaided, using two different types of dough for the wrapping.
  • Embarrassing Tattoo: Leon's hand was tattooed with the Underground Cooking Society symbol when he joined. After his redemption, he crossed out the tattoo to show his disassociation from the the Society.
  • Evil Chancellor: The vizier of the Emperor of China.
  • Evil Plan: Underground Cooking Society's plot to take over China with cooking skills and macguffins.
  • Excited Show Title!
  • Five-Man Band
  • Food Porn: Chūka Ichiban! doesn't just take liberties around overly extravagant garnishing, They even give them extremely impossible characteristics. Majority of those cases, however, are explained by science. Examples include:
  • Generation Xerox: Mao is the only son of Pai Chan, a Supreme Master Chef herself and nicknamed "The Fairy of Szechuan Cuisine".
  • Heel Face Turn: Mao apparently has the innate ability to turn every adversary to an ally. Shell and Leon zeroes in as the best examples. Also doubles as Defeat Means Friendship.
  • If It Tastes Bad, It Must Be Good for You: Subverted. Mao creates great-tasting dishes with the consumer's health in mind.
    • On one episode, When Mao and company stayed at a house of a rich jade merchant where the chef was slowly poisoning them with addictive Red Mushrooms, Mao made them a "Rainbow Rice Porridge" to wean them from the addiction.
    • This is central to Mao's battle against Fei in the Forbidden City. He, Shell and Leon agreed that they create their dishes in such a way that they can introduce the Emperor of China to healthy eating habits.
  • Improbable Age
    • Mao, at thirteen years old, is the youngest Supreme Master Chef in China in about a century.
    • Shell also was improbably young when he became a Dim Sum Master.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Shell wields a multipurpose kitchen utensil/weapon/fishing rod/walking stick/flint Iron Staff, earning him the name "Steel Staff Shell."
  • Knife Nut: Leon wields the Seven Star knives, a set of seven kitchen knives made by the blacksmith Lu Xie.
  • Large Ham: Shell. He introduced his "Golden Cut Pork Dumplings" with the Golden Ratio flashing before him.
  • Master Chef's Beautiful Daughter: Mei Li is the only daughter of Master Chou Yu, the deputy head chef of Yang Spring Restaurant and Mao's teacher.
  • Opposites Attract Revenge: Chou Yu and Li Hua, who had their ultimate falling out when they competed for the hand of Mei Ga, Mei Li's mother. Only shown in a flashback, but their hatred moved on to sixteen years.
  • Orphan's Plot Trinket
    • Mao's cleaver was originally used by his mother. Mao modifies the knife over the course of the series, such as having tiny holes put on the knife to make it more flexible.
    • The old, torn cookbook can also qualify.
  • Please Don't Leave Me: Mei Li to Mao when he decided to travel China to home his cooking skills. When Mao read Mei Li's farewell letter, he is, of course, anguished, but it turns out that Mei Li snucked in the boat to accompany Mao on his quest.
  • Power Glows: Every time Mao unveils his food, it is obscured by a golden light, which fades to reveal the dish in question.
  • Reaction Shot: The other big draw of the series. The Anime watered them down significantly which says something about the comic given the final result.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Shou An after his final battle with Mao. At least not before he hands Mao the missing half of his Mother's cookbook.
  • Rose-Haired Girl: Mei Li. Another classic case of Heroes Want Redheads.
  • Serious Business: In Ancient China, superior culinary skills means extreme political power.
  • Sink or Swim Mentor: Master Chou Yu. He lets Mao learn from his own mistakes.
  • The Stoic: Leon
  • Supreme Chef: Mao; Fei
  • The Syndicate: The Underground Cooking Society
  • Thanks for the Mammary: On their initial meeting, a hungry Shirou hallucinates about eating Steamed Buns, mistakenly groping Mei Li's breasts. It later becomes a Running Gag in the series.
  • Tsundere: Mei Li somewhat became one when they met the beautiful Chef Anzi and helped her discover her Grandfather's long-lost technique in making Guoba.
  • The Watcher: General Lee. Being an officer in the Chinese Imperial Army, he cannot play favorites with Mao. He offers help when needed, however.
  • What Do You Mean It's Not Awesome?: While in the end, it's a show about Chinese cooking, it is handled as a typical Shonen action manga/anime.
  • X Marks the Hero: Subverted with Shirou.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair
    • Mao and Leon.
    • Master Chou Yu has green hair, but it doesn't come far from being black.
    • Shell... a blond Chinese man. Probably justified since he is a nomad.