Update (9/29/2017): Re-arranged screencaps
So apparently, Nekoya only opens to fantasy characters once a week (essentially the fantasy world’s version of Saturday). I think it was brought up oi the first episode but this episode definitely makes it more obvious to the viewer. That certainly explains why Aletta only works once a week (though it’s still sad just picturing her sleeping on that haystack after her shift is over) and it might be a good excuse for the supportive characters to appear together onscreen.
In fact, the supportive characters are far more prevalent in the show. Episode 2 presents two scenarios: an adventurer named Sarah and a noble named Heinrich. Both stumble upon Nekoya through unique circumstances and experience the wonders of modern Earthen cooking. Now that I’m two episodes in, it seems more or less evident that Isekai Shokudou has a slight anthology format going on. Presumably, we’ll be seeing more customers in later episodes, how they stumble across Nekoya, and what their favorite meals are. That certainly kind of puts a damp on my initial assumption that Aletta is the “heart” of the show (she’s barely in this episode) but whatever. She’ll probably be the focus on another episode at some point and I’m completely fine with an anthology format.
It was a lot of fun witnessing Sarah and Heinrich react to their meals. While I think the cooking in Isekai Shokudou isn’t mind blowing, I think the strength of that aspect is actually with how characters react to the food. We’ve definitely seen meat cutlets and fried shrimp in other cooking shows but it’s really entertaining to see fantasy characters express their glee towards these meals in such great detail. There’s also a neat thing where the characters try the food on its own and then try it with extra flavors or condiment, thus expanding their satisfaction towards their meal.
I also just love how the characters are stunned by how well lemon water taste. I mean, lemon water is pretty amazing but I guess no one in the other world thought about mixing the two together.
One last thing, it still amazes me how casual Isekai Shokudou is tonally. We have Aletta dealing with discrimination, Sarah killing monsters in a dungeon, Heinrich assisting political allies and yet all of those worries seemingly vanish when they enter Nekoya and Tenshu asks what they want on the menu. It also helps that the music is chilled and Tenshu is played by Junichi Suwabe (he is super good at sounding relaxed at all times). It almost feels like a reversal on the isekai formula. Instead of someone from our world escaping to another world, it’s the residents of that other world escaping to ours. I’m not sure if escapism is really a theme in this show so for now, I’ll just enjoyed the pleasant atmosphere this show offers.