I really liked this episode of The Perfect Match. It had relatively few cringey moments (possibly even none?!) and there were some big reveals that, while expected, also forced our characters to confront themselves and their own feelings some more, which is always great for pushing development forward!
The whole rude guest drama blows over with no negative consequences. In fact, perhaps it even works out positively. Qing acknowledges that she was rude and takes full responsibility for her behavior. The guests acknowledge that they were being a bit too loud and tease one another. The journalists that Tian Zhi and Ru Xi invited overhear Qing’s apology and ask to interview her. She very sincerely says on camera that she hopes the guests will come back again and enjoy the best that La Mure has to offer.
Ting En walks Ru Xi out and tells her that he understands why she invited the journalists, but also that he doesn’t care about what reporters or bloggers have to say about his restaurant. All he cares about is how his customers experience the restaurant and the food. Everything else is just noise. And perhaps that’s a fundamental difference between them that might explain why he always treats her with courtesy, but is never actually interested in her.
It turns out that Qing is pretty good at acting as well, because after everyone’s gone, Qing hands Xiao Bin a business card one of the rude guests forced upon her, and tells him to never let that person book a reservation. Ting En overhears and asks if she didn’t trust what he said earlier that he would take care of it. She responds that she does trust him: he had once said that he would never do anything to hurt her, and she believes him. She tells him a fun fact about Thai curry: there’s an anecdote that some of the most popular dishes only came about because a chef mistook curry powder for pepper, and thus a happy accident gave birth to some delicious food. Her point is that she might follow conventional chef wisdom, but perhaps she is his happy accident, an interruption in his journey as a “good” chef, but perhaps a fortunate one. That’s cute.
He reflects on all the moments when she’s worked outside the box and countered him, and smiles to himself. Xiao Bin, who was hiding somewhere nearby and eavesdropping, calls Ting En out on how he’s never shown this much care for someone before. He also has a reminder for Ting En: the end of Qing’s seven-day apprenticeship is coming up, and if Ting En really cares about her, he should try and find a way to keep her. Seems like Xiao Bin is firmly Team Qing! Love!
Tian Zhi drives Ru Xi home and asks how Ting En liked the hangover soup. She had noticed Ting En watching Qing and responds in a very roundabout way using literary allusions that she hopes his attention toward Qing is just one of a person appreciating talent, rather than love. Ting En doesn’t quite understand.
Ah Wei is waiting for Qing when she gets home. She thanks him for watching over Cheng Yang, but when Ah Wei tries to convince her to let Cheng Yang drop out of culinary school, they end up in a heated argument. We finally learn about Ah Wei’s past: Qing first met him when he and his girlfriend broke up in front of her night market stall. Ah Wei was a rich boy who cut ties with his family in order to be with his girlfriend, but it turned out that his family was right about his girlfriend, who broke up with him after finding out that he wasn’t rich anymore. Qing gave him a job and helped him get back on his feet.
Because of that experience, Ah Wei can understand Qing’s brother, who wants to run away. He knows what it’s like to face pressure from his family to follow a path he doesn’t want to take. Qing takes offense at the idea that she and her mother are forcing Cheng Yang to do anything and thinks that Ah Wei is taking her brother’s side. She thought that Ah Wei was the one person in the world who understood her better than anyone else, but it’s clear to her now that he doesn’t understand her at all. She leaves.
Qing wanders aimlessly for a while, then remembers Ting En’s promise before that she could call him if she had any problems. She ends up at La Mure, where Ting En is in the middle of brainstorming menu items. Noticing that she’s in a bad mood, Ting En puts Qing to work cleaning the kitchen and kneading dough to help take her work out her anger. It kind of works, and he invites her outside to drink some beer.
Ting En asks if Qing was worried about her brother. She admits that her brother is part of the reason why she’s upset, but that she’s also upset with Ah Wei, who she thought would understand more than anyone how hard it is to runaway from home and cut ties with his family. Ting En, who has experience being the family, says that it’s always the family who hurts the most in such a situation. Then he fixates on Qing being upset because of Ah Wei. He asks her a hypothetical question: if he were the one who had encouraged her brother to leave instead of Ah Wei, would she also be upset at him?
She responds, “Of course,” which makes him happy. He smiles and cheers her, saying “Let’s drink.” They both freeze, flashing back to the previous night at the cocktail party where they also said “Let’s drink” to each other and then ended up blacked out and in bed together the next morning…
The two hang out in the kitchen for the rest of the night, until Qing falls asleep at the counter in the middle of eating an apple. Ting En gently lays his coat over her and sits down next to her to continue working on his menu, but soon falls asleep as well. Ah Wei walks into the kitchen and sees them, then leaves.
He runs into Ru Xi, whom he greets as jie (older sister). Surprise, surprise, who saw that coming?
Ru Xi asks Ah Wei how long he plans on staying at the night market and when he’ll return home. Ah Wei says that he likes his life right now, plus there’s someone at the night market he wants to protect. Ru Xi responds that having wealth and social status might help him better protect that someone. He agrees that it’s possible, saying that who knows, maybe that’s the reason he’ll go home one day. They hug fondly and say goodbye. Zhen Zhen spots them from the rooftop.
Hmmmm, Ah Wei’s comments about protecting that “someone” being a reason he’d return home — foreshadowing? He’s already seen once, with the cocktail party, how his name and social status can be quite useful in helping out Qing. I could see him getting jealous and wanting to compete with Ting En for Qing’s affection, and wielding the Meng family name in order to do so.
Xiao Bin gets to La Mure early the next morning to receive a delivery and spots Qing and Ting En sleeping together at the kitchen counter. He giggles delightedly, waking Qing up, and tries to convince her to let him take a picture of them together. She protests and quickly rushes out. He tries to sneak a photo of the sleeping Ting En, but Ting En springs awake. Xiao Bin teases Ting En about spending the night with Qing in the kitchen, and calls him out for letting Qing be with him while he was brainstorming up menu ideas. He used to always hate having people around him while he was brainstorming. More shenanigans ensue between the two. I love their bromance!
Ah Wei is still waiting for Qing when she gets home in the morning. She tries to slip by him, but he asks her if she didn’t come home all night because of him. He’s willing to move away if that’ll make her feel better. She can’t find the words to respond, and he takes that as a “yes” and leaves.
Zhen Zhen sees that Ah Wei is leaving and hurries to tell Qing about what she saw the previous night. Some woman, she thinks Ah Wei’s ex-girlfriend, was trying to get Ah Wei to go back with her. Zhen Zhen is worried that Ah Wei will leave them forever.
Qing is worried and distracted in the kitchen, burning her curry and making a mess. Jack tells her to leave and stop wasting ingredients. Ting En swoops in, saying that he’ll handle it, but also tells Qing to leave. He has a kinder take on it, though, saying that she should call him if anything comes up. What a nice guy!
Ting En enlists Xiao Bin’s help in keeping an eye on Qing’s brother. Xiao Bin tries to take this opportunity to give Ting En some relationship advice. They’re interrupted by Tian Zhi, who relays a message from his mother about an upcoming event that has the potential to boost La Mure’s reputation, and some other business-related matters. Interesting, so Tian Zhi’s mother is still in the picture? Ting En runs his menu plans by Tian Zhi, who barely looks at it, saying he trusts Ting En’s judgment when it comes to La Mure. He reminds Ting En to attend a restaurant opening happening that night, then leaves.
Later, Tian Zhi texts Ru Xi to check whether she will be at the restaurant opening. She responds affirmatively. Still matchmaking, I see.
Xiao Bin applauds Ting En for essentially giving Qing his blessing to go chase another man, but asks him if he’s really going to hand Qing over to someone else. He tells Ting En to go chase after her if he wants; he’ll hold down the fort at the restaurant. Ting En dashes off without a word.
Meanwhile, Qing chases down Ah Wei and convinces him to come back with her. Ting En finds them at the base of their apartment building, where he and Ah Wei play another game of tug-of-war using Qing. This time, with less arm-pulling, thankfully. Qing again chooses Ting En, saying that La Mure is important to her right now and she has to listen to her chef.
She rides her motorcycle to the restaurant while Ting En drives his car. It suddenly starts pouring, and she struggles to wrestle on her raincoat on the side of the road, but is already drenched. Ting En shows up with an umbrella and rescues her, guiding her into his car. She notices some familiar-looking photos in his glove box when he rummages around for a towel. I’m sure we’ll come back to these photos later. It’s too obvious of a hint to ignore. Perhaps they had known each other before as children? That’s one trope we haven’t hit yet.
At the end of the night, Qing leaves the restaurant and is surprised to find her motorcycle waiting for her outside. Xiao Bin pops up to check on her, then mutters “I almost died because of you two…” as he walks away. It turns out Ting En had enlisted his help in retrieving Qing’s motorcycle in the pouring rain. Awwww, so thoughtful.
Qing gets ready for bed and gets a text from Ah Wei, wishing her a good night. She sends a short video saying “good night” in response, then notices a video with a screencap of drunk Ting En in her gallery. She taps on it curiously, not remembering taking the video. In the video, a clearly inebriated Ting En slurs, “Wei Fen Qing, I love you.”
HAH! This was an interesting episode to me because it highlighted how similar Qing and Ting En are, at least with their roles within their respective families, despite their apparent differences. We also got to see more of Ting En being sweet and thoughtful toward Qing, which I love, and it’s fun to see some playful competition ramp up between Ting En and Ah Wei.