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Plot Summary

Judging begins for Ryō Kurokiba's curry dish. Natsume Sendawara notices a strange fragrance, and takes a second bite for the first time. She is visibly impressed with the dish, identifying the base as Sauce Américaine made from crab shells. The tree-like fragrance she detected came from cognac. Ryō confirms that he used Napoléon Cognac, impressing the judges and even the watching Erina Nakiri. However, Sōma Yukihira wonders if there is more to the dish.

Before the judges revealed his score, Ryo puts on his headband, changing into his berserk mode. Presenting the judges with five cognac-filled droppers, he demands that they drip it into the lobster's head, and slurp up the contents. Natsume protests at the crudeness, but Ryō overpowers her through sheer force of will. The judges do as he says, and they are blown away by the flavor. Ryō receives 93 points, catapulting him to first place and causing an uproar. He nonchalantly proclaims that he's been fighting for as long as he could remember - even before he met Alice Nakiri. Thus, he finds this competition easy in comparison.

The judges are surprised at the high score - in some years, the highest scores top out in the 70s or 80s. Natsume feels that she was completely blindsided by Ryō's aggressive cooking and needs to come down. The chances for that evaporates when the next candidate, Ikumi Mito, presents her curry dish. Ikumi's finely-honed "meat sense" and access to quality meat ensures maximum tenderness and sensuousness of her dish, breaking down Natsume's resolve.

In addition, Ikumi added rock salt and tengjiao oil to the rice. The oil numbs the oiliness of the meat, and increases craving for the fat's sweetness, creating a self-reinforcing cycle. The effect is to goad the diner to finish everything, despite the emcee's warning that the judges still need to sample several dishes. Overwhelmed by the dishes, the judges dub Ikumi as the "Meat General". Roland Chapelle lauds the evolution in Ikumi's cooking, which she credits to the lesson Soma taught her in their Shokugeki. She receives 86 points, placing her in second place.

Ryōko Sakaki, the next candidate, presents a very plain-looking curry dish. Appearances can be deceiving, as Ryōko used a special charcoal-fermented nattō in her curry, which deepened the flavor and increased its umami content. The high glutamic acid content of her secret ingredient, fermented soy sauce, increased umami without being overpowered by the curry. Ryōko leveraged her mastery of fermentation into a potent weapon, causing the judges to dub her as "ane-san" (mistress of a Yakuza gangster) and visualizing her as a Shinto idol held aloft to shouts of "Soy!" (a pun to the customary yell "Soiya"). She receives 86 points, which ties her with Ikumi.

The succession of high scores leads the audience to anticipate the next candidate. When it turns out to be Zenji Marui, who nearly died during the Tōtsuki Friendship and Rapport Training Camp, many skeptically write him off. Zenji is not put-off by this. With the support of many eyeglass-wearing students calling him "Mr. Marui", he promises to stir things up. His dish is completely white from the soup base to the ingredients - the antithesis of Ryō's colorful dish.

The judges taste his dish, and continue to slurp the noodles while ignoring the host Yua Sasaki's question about its taste. The judges are clearly enamored with the creamy dish. Makito Minatozaka, a producer of a TV cooking show, likens it to a vichyssoise, a potage made mainly from potatoes and fresh cream. Although creamy, the soup is surprisingly light because of the coriander powder added to the udon noodles. The result is a dish that satisfies even the discriminating palate of Natsume.

Zenji confirms that he prepared his dish in the century-old style of vichyssoise and married it with the modern concept of dipping ramen. Professor Takao Miyazato and the rest of his Miyazato Lab charges watch the proceedings with satisfaction. Even though Zenji is still a freshman, he is already the star of the lab, which researches and analyzes historical food texts. Since Zenji is handicapped by the lack of an innate cooking sense lower stamina compared to others, he consumed knowledge to make up for it, gaining the sobriquet "The Professor of Taste" from his lab peers. Zenji receives 88 points, putting him in second place, much to the excitement of his dormitory mates and [Enomoto Madoka]].

The next candidate, Shun Ibusaki, reveals an extremely fragrant curry dish whose aroma threatens to overpower the arena. Natsume comments that the dish dominates in terms of pure power. Everything in the dish appears to be smoked: bacon, egg, potatoes, which, much to the judge's surprise, did not overwhelm the spices used in the curry. Shun enhanced the flavor of the spices instead of overpowering them by smoking the toppings with apple wood chips. He further unified the flavors by using smoked seaweed salt in the spices. Shigenoshin Kōda, a gourmand judge, is visibly impressed by Shun's knowledge of smoking and curing techniques, dubbing him the "Prince of Smoke". Shun receives 88 points, tying him with Zenji.

The presence of two ties in fourth place causes a buzz in the audience, causing Etsuya Eizan to confirm a revote to determine the four candidates who can proceed to the main tournament. However, he thinks that it is unlikely because the favored candidate, Akira Hayama has yet to present his dish. As Akira prepares to be called, he exchanges friendly banter with Sōma - they have each made an extra portion for the other to taste, and agree to compare their skills.

It is now Akira's turn to present. Jun Shiomi recalls an incident eight years ago where she purchased spice from a roadside vendor. A young slum rat accuses the vendor of diluting his wares by mixing in 30% of poor-quality spices. The boy identifies Jun as Japanese, and tells her little girls should not be sightseeing here. The seven-year-old Akira is flustered upon learning that Jun is actually 26 years old.

Having seen Akira's preparations, the judges were fully expecting a fish head curry, but instead received a compact dish shaped much like a muffin and topped by naan, a type of flatbread. Akira instructs the judges to crack the naan into the bowl with their spoons as he tosses a spoon to Sōma. Sōma does as directed, and as the spoon cracks the naan's surface, a fragrance bomb explodes in his face.

Trivia

  • Ryo's score distribution is unrevealed in the manga. In the anime, he received 19, 18, 18, 19, and 19.
  • Megumi's vegetables in the Opening: Pumpkins
  • Eyecatch: The hosts interview a nervous Enomoto Madoka, who has a visible crush on Zenji.
  • Closing: A scene of Polar Star Dormitory during Summer Break: both Sōma and Megumi are sleeping after exhausting themselves with spices.

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