It’s that time of year again where we search for a new Chinese drama to recap (seems always to happen in the fall), and this time we stumbled upon Dating in the Kitchen. Come join us as we begin another Positive Recap adventure and chat everything cutie chefs and hottie CEOs.
The rule of a positive recap is that we only talk about the parts of the drama that make us happy. Which means we might not get that deep into the plot unless that is what is making us happy. So if we have nothing nice to say about the story or the characters, then we’ll talk about eyeliner and abs.
The rules make us a bit picky about what shows we choose for a positive recap, but Dating In The Kitchen checked all the boxes, and we decided it would be perfect! So come join us as we talk about all our favorite things regarding episodes 1-4.
Cutie Chef Gu Sheng Nan
We meet our leading lady Gu Sheng Nan first as the youngest chef at a 5-star hotel. Being the youngest, and the bottom of the command chain, Sheng Nan is in charge of a lot of the prep work for the older chefs. But her fate is set when one of the other Chefs requests that she makes her famous finger-licking fried rice for a VVIP guest. Thus begins her journey of being fired and hired multiple times, all to fulfill this specific person’s culinary needs.
Kmuse: Sheng Nan is so much fun to watch. I’m a fan of this actress, and I think she does mischievous and likable very well. My favorite scene was when Sheng Nan was helping her best friend get back at an ex-boyfriend. She decorated his Ferrari with sculpted noodle dough and flour, thinking that bashing in his windshield might be too much of a crime. You have to appreciate a girl who will get creative when she has to.
Karie the Maknae: Sheng Nan is pretty dang funny. Kmuse is right — she achieves a perfect balance between mischievous and likable. I’m also a big fan of the fact that she hasn’t indulged in any slapstick moves.
Drama Geek: The character is perfect parts amazing chef (who is totally under-appreciated by her subpar bosses) and kookie girl. She is creative in a pinch, and is beautiful to boot. After watching her make so many dishes, I would pull up a chair in any restaurant lucky enough to have her and eat until my heart was content.
MiataMama: She’s quirky and fun and also makes mouthwatering meals – what’s not to love?! I totally want to hang with her in the kitchen and snag the secret recipe to her special seasoning.
Hottie CEO Lu Jin
Enter CEO Lu Jin, who is staying at the hotel, hoping to acquire it at a minimal price. His goal is to find fault with anything and everything, including all of the five-star plates sent up from the kitchen. Lu Jin’s plan of faking dislike of everything is ruined when he is presented with Sheng Nan’s Finger Licking Fried Rice. Not even a drop is left once he has finished the dish.
Kmuse: I love how sweet Lu Jin is. No matter what crazy thing happens when he comes in contact with Sheng Nan, Lu Jin remains civil. I have to admit if I found someone defacing my Ferrari, I would probably not be as nice. His appreciation of Sheng Nan’s food is also just so gosh darn cute. He truly is just an all-around nice guy.
Karie the Maknae: I did NOT expect to like our male lead right off the bat, but I do. He reminds me a little of Joseph Gordon-Leavitt, not only in looks but in affability as well. I can’t wait to see what happens when Sheng Nan gets him to loosen up.
Drama Geek: He had me at the scene where he’s laying on his stomach and gets excited to see his mother calling him. Thankfully, he’s not a momma’s boy, but just seems genuinely happy to chat with her. I also can NOT get enough of his appreciation for Shen Nan’s food. It’s bordering on obsession. I also think this man has comfort food issues. LOL.
MiataMama: Maybe it’s the goatee, but I’m getting serious Jang Hyuk vibes and I am not complaining! Poor Lu Jin though. . . the man can not catch a break when crossing paths with Sheng Nan. He also can’t stay away from her delicious dishes. What’s a guy to do!?
Crazy and embarrassing situations
There are so many hilarious moments in the first four episodes. Be it the flouring of the Ferrari, drunken shenanigans in adjoined suites, or accidental attempted murder (poor Lu Jin does get the shorter end of the stick.) Our OTP (one true pairing) manages to escape the dreaded creation of second-hand embarrassment by acting like all of these things are totally normal. There is something so enjoyable about seeing two people willing to take all the crazy in stride.
Kmuse: When I watched the scene where Sheng Nan was faking being blackout drunk, and we see the situation from both perspectives, I couldn’t stop laughing. We also got some very pretty moments of Lu Jin in a tank top. The boy is hiding some delicious muscle definition under those suits.
Karie the Maknae: And can I just mention Sheng Nan using Lu Jin as a human bubble machine? Again, something that could have been slapstick but was actually a little delightful and still had me laughing. The humor in this drama is totally to my taste.
Drama Geek: These two have a lot of chemistry, but can also carry off the funnier scenes. Not gonna lie, the bubble scene was bordering on slapstick but did manage to stay funny and not too weird. My favorite scene with the two of them though might be when he visits her home and she is all professional to him, but also super sassy while doing it.
MiataMama: I’m with Kmuse – I think I enjoyed seeing both sides of the faked blackout. Watching Sheng Nan take an unexpected flying leap onto the bed to maintain her cover was hilarious! I don’t mind slapstick moments, as long as they aren’t too over the top, and this drama seems to be striking the perfect balance.
Oh my heavens, the food!
Words can not describe how amazing the food looks in this drama. Every dish is filmed to make it look fresh, appetizing, and luxe. This director should be in charge of filming all the food scenes in dramas from now on. It truly is one of the highlights of the drama along with the OTP.
Kmuse: I am literally allergic to half of the stuff they have filmed and I would still be tempted to try each and every dish. I’m excessively drooling while I watch.
Karie the Maknae: I am SO TEMPTED to write down how she makes the Finger licking Fried Rice. The way it was filmed — from ingredient prep to presentation — made me hungry, and I had just eaten dinner!
Drama Geek: So much food! The best scene is when he orders a ton of potato dishes and, along with his assistant, dances with delight as they try each dish. He then goes a bit crazy and just keeps ordering more food. I wanted to crawl into my computer and enjoy all the dishes with them. The one thing I do love is how versatile she is with her cooking skills. She does street food to perfection and then serves up a dish anyone dining at a five-star restaurant would drool over.
MiataMama: I’ve watched a couple of ‘foodie’ dramas before, but never has one made me want to raid the kitchen while I watch like this show does! I just want to reach thru my screen and try ALL the things!
Stockholm Syndrome, Foodie-style
Due to the multiple accidents and hijinks that Sheng Nan experienced in the hotel, she is fired and rehired, only to be fired once again. But don’t despair for our plucky heroine since she has hooked Lu Jin on her cooking. Poor Lu Jin finds himself unable to eat other chef’s cooking, no matter how much he used to enjoy the food. He needs Sheng Nan’s cooking and only Sheng Nan’s culinary masterpieces.
Kmuse: Lu Jin is like one of those characters on the reality tv show Addicted. But instead of eating lint or paint chips, he only has a craving for Sheng Nan’s cooking. I couldn’t stop laughing at his dilemma.
Karie the Maknae: Yep, watching him trying to play it cool while just devouring everything she put in front of him was a hoot. I also love that her presentation skills didn’t drop, even though she was serving him in her own home instead of at the hotel.
Drama Geek: The way the director has presented her food, I think we’d all sign a contract with her to feed us every day. I love how she has ruined his tastebuds for anything else. The poor guy just needs to put a ring on it. Except she really needs to share her skills with the world and become a master chef.
MiataMama: Nothing holds a candle to Sheng Nan’s culinary creations – Lu Jin is already way past the ‘point of no return’! I would venture to say he’s got plans to keep her meals all to himself, long after she’s done paying back the debt she owes him. . .
A new type of relationship
Since Lu Jin finds himself in the middle of a very extreme situation (he even passes out from hunger because nothing tastes good), he creates a solution. He will allow Sheng Nan to pay back the fees for his Ferrari and all the times she accidentally injured him by being his personal chef. Thus begins Lu Jin traveling to Sheng Nan’s apartment every day for his daily dose of Sheng Nan cooking.
Kmuse: I get a chuckle every time I see the two acting so serious. She pretends that her house is the equivalent of a five-star restaurant and treats him accordingly. Sheng Nan carrying around a bathroom towel as if it is a waiter’s dishtowel cracked me up.
Karie the Maknae: And the bowing! I was laughing and hoping she wouldn’t accidentally give herself a concussion the entire time.
Drama Geek: Just the act of getting to her apartment made him seem like he never steps out of his five-star hotel environment. He tripped and bumbled his way there, to be greeted by her in full chef uniform and a fancy meal. Like I said earlier, these were some of my favorite scenes with the two of them.
MiataMama: I want to know just how expensive that bottle of wine was? Quick calculations are not not my strong suit, but her ‘corking fee’ was a considerable percentage of his dinner check!
Kmuse: I find these two so delightful and have to muffle my laughter so I don’t disrupt my kids’ Zoom school classes. They truly have brought laughter into my life in a time where I desperately need it. Can’t wait to watch next week.
Karie the Maknae: I wish all comedies could be like this. I haven’t cringed once from secondhand embarrassment, and the chemistry between our OTP is undeniable, even when their situations are being used for laughs. I cannot wait to see what they get up to next!
Drama Geek: I’m with the others. I needed the laughs, and the FOOD, in my life. I may keep a notepad handy for any recipe she’s willing to share.
MiataMama: I think I need to grab a quick snack before I settle in for the next episode, LOL! This drama is just delightful and yummy and the perfect addition to my drama plate.
Our kbestie Clkytta reviewed the movie that this drama was adapted from. If you are interested in her thoughts about the film then click HERE!
Until the next mouthwatering dish,
Dramas With a Side of Kimchi