Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Let's Eat: A Sexy Slice of Quirk

Who else gets weird looks from the cashier because of the stacks of ramen in your cart? Just me? Drama characters make this snack staple look like noodle heaven. But Let's Eat takes Korean food porn to a whole new embarrassing level as the actors oooooh and aaaaaahhh while the steam rises from their dishes. It's indecent. Not to mention delicious. I want to eat with these people. I don't normally do full recaps, but this show is K-drama comfort food that should be shared. Episode 10 had no less than four seductive scenes for foodies. Warning: This show may cause weight gain due to uncontrollable food cravings

In case you missed episodes 1-9, here's a quick rundown of our four leads:

Lee Soo-kyung (Lee Soo-kyung) Our emotionally closed-off, divorcee heroine who just wants a decent table for one without all the weird looks. 

Goo Dae-young (Yoon Doo-joon) Hot, overly helpful insurance salesman neighbor who gets mistaken for an opportunistic player because of his well-meaning meddling and ever-ready sales pitch.

Yoon Jin-yi (Yoon So-hee) Sweet, airheaded rich girl struggling to make it in her tiny, new apartment when daddy loses all his money and goes to jail.

Kim Hak-moon (Shim Hyung-tak) Soo-kyung's overbearing, lawyer boss who has been secretly pining for his oblivious secretary since college when she was the campus queen and he was a bespectacled nerd in a tracksuit. He works his romantic frustration out by making her do infuriating, petty tasks at the office.

The helpful "Previously On" box reminds us that Soo-kyung quit her job in a blaze of glory, much to the chagrin of her love-addled boss, and she now "belongs" to her neighbor Dae-young, thanks to her Mom putting her up as collateral in a game of Go-Stop. So, you know, just an ordinary week.

Jin-yi tries to make a go of her new business venture making designer pet wear, and it seems to be going well. Young women exclaim over a fancy new outfit while their pampered pooches swarm around them in what looks like a restaurant.  I'm sorry. Is that dog wearing rouge?

Elsewhere, Soo-kyung tries to find a kennel for her own dog, Barrassi, but is shocked at the prices. She figures 3 months wages is too much to pay when she is currently unemployed and she decides not to go home for Lunar New Year.

Dae-young prepares for the holidays by readying gifts with handwritten notes for his clients. He can't even get through one card, before whining and holding his wrist. Ah, the tragic lot of an insurance agent.

Soo-kyung decides to branch out after working at a law firm for nine years. She interviews for a customer service job at a plastic surgery place where the woman tries to talk her into an eye lift for a 20 percent discount. Soo-kyung informs her that an unlicensed person recommending medical procedures is illegal and could get her into trouble later. Needless to say, this does not go over well. Soo-kyung smacks her mouth outside the clinic and berates herself for bombing the interview but is distracted by her growling stomach. A restaurant catches her eye and the requisite glamour shots of sizzling barbecued meat are shown before we see Dae-young is already inside, chowing down on some yummy looking pork. The smacking and slurping sounds juxtaposed with the elegant classical music in the soundtrack are hilarious.
Dae-young hears Soo-kyung at the counter ordering pigs feet to go, and calls her over to join him. She refuses at first but is reeled in by the argument that the cold, outside air will hurt the food's taste. He asks if she's following him. She threatens him with a beatdown and he replies that he was just happy to see her. She assumes he must be eating with coworkers and is shocked to learn he is eating alone. Isn't he embarrassed? 
Dae-young gets his lecture face on as he ticks off the reasons that eating alone is best. You don't have to compromise on what to order, wait for people to stop talking so you can start, fight over the best pieces of meat, etc. He finishes his spiel to discover that Soo-kyung is too absorbed by the plate in front of her to pay any attention to him. Considering how much he loves food, it's a wonder he doesn't fall for her right then and there as she piles her bites high, with the singular focus of a condemned prisoner eating her last meal. She smiles and mumbles to herself, holding her nose from the spiciness.

Dae-young guesses that she's been on an interview and she tells him of her bad timing, and how her age and experience works against her. No one wants to pay her what she's worth. He frowns and says that, if she's unhappy, he's unhappy. When she's surprised at his remark, he asks how he can be happy when something that "belongs" to him is feeling down. *Smirk* You can tell he loves teasing his prickly next-door-noona. She slams the table and tells him to stop bringing that up! He sucks his lips in to keep from smiling as she starts quoting legal jargon about the penalty for illegal gambling. Dae-young finally stuffs her mouth with a pork hock to shut her up, and points out that she's just perfect for an attorney's office.

Speaking of the attorney's office, things are a mess at Soo-kyung's former job. Her co-worker grumbles as he's stuck mopping the floor, but he stops to answer the phone. It's Dae-young calling to see if Attorney Oh is in. He immediately walks in the door when he learns that the amorous, overly touchy client is absent.  Dae-young comes bearing gifts and asks if they've replaced Noona, yet. Coworker Guy complains that the boss, Attorney Kim, won't accept any of the good candidates, and Dae-young drops a hint that Soo-kyung is getting scads of job offers, she's so in demand. Awwwwww.

It turns out, Attorney Kim doesn't need any prodding because he's camped outside Soo-kyung's building calling her as they speak. She walks out the front door with her dog and he smiles happily, but this quickly disappears when he sees her reject his call.  He waylays her like a spurned lover. Barrassi barks and he backs off as if its a doberman, not a fluffy furball the size of a large hamster.

The two end up at another restaurant that must allow dogs. Seriously, where are these unsanitary places? He tries to make nice with Barrassi but almost gets his fingers bit off. Soo-kyung assumes this is about the severance pay, but he asks her instead to come back, much to her surprise. Attorney Kim acts uncharacteristically humble as he admits he's made many mistakes toward her and promises it won't happen again. Plus a raise! Soo-kyung tries not to clap her hands in glee, instead taking a calm sip of her drink. She plays it cool and tells him she'll consider coming back after the New Year. But he insists they need her back right now. Today! He grabs her hand. You hear someone's heart beating fast and from Soo-kyung's annoyed face, it's obvious that the racing heart isn't hers.

Back at the office, the homely, female partner of the firm, Attorney Oh, is excited to find the present that Dae-young left for her. She opens the gold envelope to reveal a gift certificate for an overnight stay at a resort. She thinks it's a personal invitation from the handsome insurance agent and gasps, though not in disgust. This is hilarious and a little sad, because girls really do overreact and overanalyze what guys say and do like that.

Soo-kyung walks in and everyone is happy to see her. Her coworker complains about everything he went through and earns a nasty look from Attorney Kim. But the boss is all smiles and consideration for Soo-kyung. He declares she will no longer do menial tasks like fetching coffee and he goes to make his own to prove his point. Everyone stares with eyes wide. Soo-kyung remarks that he's never done this in 9 years. The way he proudly waves his cup and strikes a pose before strutting off, you'd think he found the cure for global warming. But all his efforts to secretly woo Soo-kyung are doomed to be misunderstood. She decides he must be doing it because he suspects she'll spit in his coffee. Soo-kyung laments that her job will be worse than ever, and Coworker Guy mentions that Goo Dae-young told him how so many other places wanted her. (I'm glad he's getting credit for that, even if it didn't matter in the long run.)

The sweet, but simple-minded Jin-yi waits in the elevator at their apartment building when a menacing guy with cap pulled low and black face mask gets on. The ominous music plays, and this is where I'd be getting off. She looks suspicious and he avoids eye contact while the slowest ride ever creeps along. A posted warning about thieves in the area doesn't help Jin-yi's nervous state of mind. They finally arrive at her floor and he follows her out. She hurries down the hall, pounding first on Soo-kyung's door then Dae-young Oppa's, but no one answers. The masked man slowly draws closer. She fakes a phone call, pretending that someone is coming up to meet her, but her cell starts to ring just then. It's the stalker calling her and he pulls back in alarm when she screams.

The flustered man pulls off his mask (Hey, look. It's FeelDog from the K-pop group BigStar) and announces he's the deliveryman she was expecting, and he has a cold. He apologizes profusely and shows her the company vest underneath his coat. It's his first time and he's not sure how to do things. Jin-yi is completely at ease now, inviting him in right away, which proves how naive she is. He, on the other hand, seems uncomfortable being alone with her in the apartment and his Busan accent comes out. He places his gloves on the table to check the packages she's sending out, but hears a loudspeaker announcement that he's illegally parked. He yells an apology as if the guard can really hear him from the inside, grabs the boxes and runs off.

Attorney Oh stares at her gift certificate and says it's much too soon for Dae-young to be thinking of gifts like this. Then immediately wonders when he wants to leave. Haha. She giggles to herself and decides to call him. He is with another client where we see he's given the exact same gift certificate to all his VIP customers. He emphatically presses the reject button over and over when he sees who is calling. Attorney Oh decides he must be playing hard to get.

Outside in the main office, Attorney Kim makes his subordinates uncomfortable as he works in the waiting area, stealing adorable peeks at Soo-kyung. He thinks he's being so suave, but he's actually freaking everyone out. Soo-kyung thinks he's surveilling her and cringes at the attention. The end of the work day puts an end to the awkward and he wishes everyone a fun New Year. Attorney Oh negates the possibility of this since all her relatives will nag her to get married. Coworker Guy (I really need to learn his name) knows it will be an endless war between his mother and wife, with him caught in the middle. And Soo-kyung's single life seems blissfully uncomplicated by comparison as she says that she's staying home. Attorney Kim makes a mental note of this information.

Soo-kyung later runs into Coworker Guy with his wife at the market where their children give her full New Year's bows and hold out their hands for the expected money.  I guess kids are the same in any language. As predicted, the wife is already complaining about her mother-in-law.

Soo-kyung spots another restaurant on her way home (How is this girl not 300 pounds already?) and texts her two neighbors to join her. Jin-yi shows up alone because Dae-young had to meet another client, and for the first time Soo-kyung looks disappointed not to see him. Hmmmmm. It took ten episodes, but we finally have progress. More food porn ensues as they sit at one of those sushi conveyor belt counters with the tiny, gourmet plates. Why do they eat even the tail of the shrimp? Eeek!

But the food isn't the important part of this scene. That's the reveal when Soo-kyung finally hears from Jin-yi that Dae-young is the writer of her favorite Mr. Foodie blog that she reads religiously.

With this information out in the open, Attorney Kim has no idea that his imaginary ship of love has sprung a giant leak as he sits at home looking up movies to invite Soo-kyung to see. His nephew wanders in and he slams the laptop lid down like he was caught looking at something naughty. The kid complains that the family keeps pestering him to grow taller. He pulls out his phone and asks the Korean version of Siri how he can make this happen. His technology illiterate uncle gets excited and has his nephew show him how to work the app. After he bribes the kid to go away, he asks the all-knowing phone for ways to get close with the woman he likes. The obvious, but not untrue answer the app gives is to do the the things that she likes? First, he thinks of her puppy but immediately gets scared. Then it hits him. Food!

Soo-kyung is at home also looking at her phone, totally starstruck that her annoying neighbor is actually her favorite blogger. She squeals with excitement and hugs Barrassi to her. Then she presses her ear against the wall she shares with Dae-young, ear stalking. 

The next day, Soo-kyung cooks at home, and the product placement for dumplings is totally working on me. She bemoans the fact that she still hasn't seen Dae-young and he must have gone home for New Year's, which we see is the case when his dad walks into his room and berates him like a teenager for playing games on his phone. The stadium organ fanfare in the background, and baseball terms flying willy-nilly make it pretty obvious this guy is a cameo. (Someone on the Soompi thread cleared up the mystery. He's a famous commentator.) Dae-young declares he's going home. But not until after dinner, of course.

Jin-yi spends a lonely holiday at home, assuring her out-of-the-country Mom on the phone that she's just fine on her own, and making lots of money with her new business. Her sad expression when she hangs up shows that this isn't exactly true. Time for Cutie Delivery Guy to come to the rescue. He shows up at the door looking for the gloves he left last time. She offers him tea from the same mug she was drinking out of. He tries to wave her off, but she presses it on him. Cutie reluctantly gulps it down quickly, scalds his throat, and runs away as fast as he can, almost taking the cup with him. 

Soo-kyung drinks by her solitary self at a coffee shop, remarking on the number of people spending New Year's alone. She sees Dae-young's car go by and her eyes light up like a saesang fan at a Super Junior concert. She bolts out of the restaurant yelling, "Mr. Foodie!"

Dae-young parks in front of their building, and he's taken aback as Soo-kyung races up to him. This is probably the first time in their whole relationship she's acted glad to see him. He congratulates her on getting rehired. She asks if he's the Mr. Foodie blogger and he confirms it. Well, why didn't he tell her sooner? She's a huge fan! He's shocked at her interest, but not too flustered by the attention because he has a much more pressing matter. Hunger pains. He was stuck in traffic and had to miss a meal. He declares she should treat him since he missed the celebration dinner with Jin-yi earlier and is once again shocked at how quickly she agrees.  She hops in his car, and I love the little throwaway bit where he has to contort his body to get in on his side because he parked too close to an SUV. Who hasn't done that?

As they leave, Attorney Kim rides the elevator up to Soo-kyung's apartment, trying to find the smoothest way to say he just happened to be in the neighborhood with a bag full of gourmet food. The elevator doors open before he's ready, and he backs up against the wall. He encourages himself with a Fighting fist, and heads for her apartment. His heart pounds loudly, but all his preparation is for naught, since she's out with Mr. Foodie. He rings the bell and jumps at Barrassi's barking. A confused Attorney Kim stumbles away awkwardly as he calls her number to find out where she is. 

Soo-kyung ignores his call like she always does, and peppers Dae-young with questions as they arrive at a little hole-in-the-wall place run by a grandmother he knows. "How did he start the blog? What made him take pictures of empty plates? What's the best place he's ever eaten?" He ignores her questions and introduces the grandmother, remarking how beautiful the old woman looks. Soo-kyung silently swoons at how well he treats the elder, until he accurately guesses how cool he must look to her. She gets annoyed and asks him if he has to act like Goo Dae-young tonight. Can't he just be Mr. Foodie? He says it's embarrassing. The noodles arrive and he passes out the chopsticks and starts to mix the food. She wants the normal commentary he always gives with a meal, the kind she ignored in the past, and he gets his lecture face on, only to choke under the pressure. He wants her to act like she normally would. Just eat. What follows is a full two minutes of them slurping, sighing, and sharing a soup bowl, like it's a culinary love scene. 

Attorney Kim still waits in his car for Soo-kyung to return. He smoothes his sideburns in the rearview mirror and gives himself a confident thumbs up. A woman walks by but it's not her and he sinks back in disappointment as his stomach growls. He looks longingly at the bag of food for Soo-kyung, but tries to resist. The hungry man wets his lips, and gulps before pulling out a plastic container. He hold a juicy piece of meat up to his mouth, but stops himself, saying he should wait and eat with her. It must be love.

Soo-kyung gives the last piece of savory meat to Dae-young and tells him to eat it before she changes her mind. He chopsticks the beef and feeds her instead, saying he should make sure what belongs to him is happy. Instead of flying off the handle, like last time, she seems moved at the statement. He remains oblivious as he takes a pic of the empty bowls for his blog, saying "1,2,3" as if the dishes are going to pose for him. Dae-young looks up at Soo-kyung with a big grin and she instinctively hiccups at the sight. 


I'm glad we saw hints of Soo-kyung softening toward Dae-young before she found out about the blog. Her romantic caution is understandable since she's already been through the trauma of divorce. But after this episode, we can see that Soo-kyung is well on her way to falling for him. But what about his feelings? He's a guy that girls naturally fall for. He's handsome, considerate, and thoughtful, in a way that's easy to misunderstand. Never underestimate the allure of good manners. I like Attorney Kim's over-the-top crush for the comedic fodder, but he's had nine years to make his move. Time for somebody else to step up to bat. Dae-young makes more sense as a life partner for the food-obsessed Soo-kyung. No matter how wrinkled and flabby they get, they can always renew their relationship over a steaming bowl of soondae.

Romance has never been the central theme of this show, anyway. It's more like the garnish on a bigger dish of funny interactions, and slice-of-life sweetness. There's no birth secrets or evil second leads that cause conflict between the main couple. Everyone is equally likeable and equally ridiculous in their own way. That sounds like almost everyone I've ever met. Now if I could only figure out how to eat as much as these characters, and not gain any weight. That's my idea of a happy ending!


(If anyone wants to hear what happened next, you should check out K-muse's latest post at thecrazyahjummas.blogspot.com. She wrote a top 5 moments of the rollicking episode 11.)


  1. EEEEEK!!!!!! I am mentioned in someone else's blog. How cool is that. Loved your recap. I always have the hardest time doing large amount of episodes in one recap but yours are so coherent and really describe the feel of the show. Great job! Cant wait til tomorrow

  2. I must command your excellent recap for Let's Eat. I hope that you will do the remaining episodes. Love it.