I recently had to go to Japan, and as as consequence forego the luxuries of having my meals cooked for me, which meant that I had to eat out for all my meals, which isn’t exactly cheap here, or learn to cook. And I had no experience with the latter. Ok, maybe I know how to boil an egg and fry some bacon. For those of you with the same opportunity that I have, Shaberu DS Oryouri Nabi (しゃべる DS お料理ナビ) comes to our rescue. Armed with a knife, a pot, and my DS in one hand (Ok, maybe not. You’ll find out why), I set out to try if I can really learn how to cook with this software.
“Shaberu” has a total of 200 dishes, ranging from snacks to complete meals, Western or Oriental, and can even be filtered of ingredients you have to avoid, say, due to allergy or your doctor’s advice. And among the different dishes, Shaberu offers you different ways to search for a recipe. Of course, you have the basic option to browse the entire list, but you can also specify what ingredients you have, by set menus, keyword search, or by filters. Personally, I found the filter feature useful; I filtered for dishes that were easy to prepare and can be done in 10 minutes, but you can filter it for other criteria like calories as well. I decided I wanted seafood and picking one from the results, chose Clams Steamed In Wine.
There are 3 basic steps to do when cooking:
Prepare the ingredients and tools
In this step, you can choose how many people you’re cooking for, which automatically adjusts the shown amount of ingredients you will need. And you can also check off items you already have, like in a checklist, and Shaberu saves this data so when you turn on your Shaberu the next time you’re in the groceries, you’ll know exactly what to buy. Shaberu also tells you what tools are needed.
Go over the cooking process
Of course, before any cooking actually begins, you have to make sure you’re ready by reviewing each step of the cooking process, from preparation to finishing touches. You can of course skip this part if you wish.
Here’s where the real fun begins, and where Shaberu, as well as the capabilities of the DS, shines. First of all, Shaberu means to chat in Japanese. Naturally, you can’t be holding your DS in one hand will you’re holding your pan and vigorously stirring with your spatula! Shaberu talks you through the dish so you don’t need to hold it. Just place it somewhere in the kitchen, preferably on a location where you won’t accidentally cook your DS, and listen to the instructions while you cook.
Although you can set the speed of the synthesized voice, for inexperienced cooks like me, I need a way to sort of pause it without having to touch my DS (specially not my touch screen) with my potentially dirty-from-handling-raw-food hands. Here’s where Shaberu’s show-stealer function comes in. Like I said, Shaberu means to chat, and chatting is a two-way thing. Using the DS’s mic, you talk to your DS to tell it to go to the next step, go back a step, repeat the step, and even to ask it for more details (Err, so how exactly do I clean these clams?). Of course, you can still navigate it with the touch screen if you so wish.
After cooking the dish, Shaberu confirms if you were abe to successfully make it and celebrates with you with confetti while showing you how your dish should turn out. It also takes note of the dish that you cooked in its calendar, so you have a record of the dishes you’ve made so far.
Ok, now onto the Cons. As you might have probably guessed, Shaberu is a Japanese title. Naturally, it speaks Japanese and you can’t change languages. And even though Shaberu uses simple language, unless you’re well-versed in Japanese kitchen and food terms, or you have another DS running Rakubiki Jiten, you’re gonna have a bit of difficulty following the steps.
Overall, Shaberu makes full use of the multimedia capabilities of the DS to deliver a really effective cooking guide for both beginners and intermediate cooks alike. For expert cooks, I suggest going for the sequel of Shaberu, where you’ll be instructed by no less than 7 hotel chefs.