Lots of juicy setup in this episode of The Perfect Match…
Ting En holds Qing’s hand to comfort her in the dark. She comments on how his side profile is pretty good-looking — more good-looking than his actual face. Ting En is amused by this, and by the fact that she doesn’t feel any sort of special emotion looking at shooting stars at night with a man by her side…
He drives behind her down the mountain while she rides her motorcycle down. His next stop is to the night market to meet up with a consultant who is supposed to help him out with planning for the Brazilian embassy dinner. That consultant turns out to be Ru Xi, whose friend was supposed to be the one to show up, but let Ru Xi switches places with them.
They’re strolling through the market when Ting En spots Qing and Ah Wei working together. He excuses himself from Ru Xi to go talk to her. He grabs her wrist so they can go elsewhere to chat, but Ah Wei stops him, offended by how Ting En drags Qing around like they’re in an idol drama…
He doesn’t even notice his sister until Ting En and Qing are gone and Ru Xi says hi, dragging him off to talk. It’s obvious to her that Qing is the one that Ah Wei wants to protect. She tries to convince him that going home would be the best way to protect her. He’ll make their dad happy, plus he’ll have status and money so he can compete with Ting En. Ah Wei responds that he doesn’t need status and money in order to compete with Ting En.
It turns out that he’s also known as the “night market prince” because his talents include dancing like he’s an idol… which he is (or at least Ben Wu is.)
Turns out Ting En doesn’t really have anything important to say to Qing — he was just jealous. Or in his words, he just didn’t like seeing her with Ah Wei. When Qing finds out that he’s trying to do research for his upcoming Taiwanese street eats-themed dinner, she immediately takes him on a whirlwind tour of the night market food stands.
We haven’t really seen Ru Xi and Qing interact with each other yet, but I appreciate that so far, Ru Xi doesn’t seem like one of those devious, subversive romantic rivals. She compliments the night market food and her smiles seem genuine. When Qing leaves to go back to her stall, Ru Xi comments to Ting En on how Qing is quite the devoted apprentice. Ting En responds that she’s not really his apprentice. After their seven days are up tomorrow, they won’t really have anything to do with each other anymore.
Ru Xi compares them to Eliza Doolittle and Professor Higgins from My Fair Lady. Ting En has given Qing the skills elevating her to a higher class of society, but what will happen to her once she leaves La Mure? Will she go back to the night market, where she might not fit in anymore? Or will she try to take her place in the world of high-class dining? What would be best for her?
Ting En ponders these questions while he cooks alone in his apartment. Meanwhile, Qing is surrounded by her night market friends as they set up and eat curry hotpot. They turn on the TV and happen to catch Qing’s interview at La Mure from a few days ago.
It seems like everyone is watching the broadcast.
Grandma Huo nods approvingly at Qing’s words. She asks Hai Wei who Qing is; when she hears that Qing’s full name is Wei Fen Qing and that she’s the daughter of a “curry king,” she frowns. Of course there has to be some connection between Qing’s father and the Huo family!
Ting En smiles at Qing’s words, saying to himself that he’s already taught her everything she needs to know. In the end, it’ll be up to her to make the choice of what kind of chef she wants to be.
Gong Mei Li is the only one who has nothing nice to say. To her, seeing Qing, a night market cook, at La Mure is just evidence that the restaurant has gone down since Ting En took the helm. But it’s also no surprise: she thinks it’s only what Ting En deserves, and with Ting En’s commonplace background, it’s no surprise that he would have brought on someone as lowly as Qing. She crassly says that this is what Hai Wei deserves for sinking her claws into the Huo family. One of her children is dead, and the other is slaving away for a company that isn’t even his.
Tian Zhi is upset with his mom for saying such caustic words. He wants her to just let the past be. After all, his father has passed away for so many years now. But Mei Li isn’t so willing to give up what she feels like she’s owed. Tian Zhi murmurs to himself that he’ll do his best to repay her the debt his father owes.
Qing stays up to prep for her test the next day. Her mother tells her not to work herself too hard: her father worked too hard and he likely got into his motor accident because he was too tired. Qing ponders how she can help Ting En, who has given her so much, then gets struck by inspiration and texts her night market family…
The next morning is Qing’s final test. Ting En asks if she will make the curry lobster he taught her, or her own version. She decides that she will make Wei Fen Qing’s curry lobster. She phones a friend, and Ah Wei, Nai Nai, and Zhen Zhen show up with all-local Taiwanese ingredients for her.
While she cooks, she reflects on the past seven days she spent with Ting En. Her friends watch nervously, and Ah Wei spends his last birthday wish hoping that she will do well and pass. Ting En admits to Xiao Bin that he doesn’t know if bringing her to La Mure was what’s best for her, but at least with this test he’s helping her discover who she is as a chef.
Qing passes the test, as expected. A piece of paper that Ting En drops reveals that he knew she would pass before he even tasted her food.
They all go out for karaoke to celebrate. Ting En drinks by himself in a corner like a lonesome sadboi, and watches jealously as Ah Wei and Qing hang out together. Nai Nai asks Qing to do some sleuthing on whether Ting En has a girlfriend.
Qing stiffly asks Ting En if Meng Ru Xi is his girlfriend (he says no) and then asks if he likes anyone. He stares at her intently, then drags her out into the hallway, where he traps her against the wall and then forcefully kisses her. At first she resists, but he traps her and eventually she succumbs and kisses him back.
Hm I don’t know if being kissed against your will is romantic… but I guess she eventually kissed him back, so? I always wonder what it feels like, as a drama actor, to have a camera so up close and in your face as you make out with someone…
As Ting En pulls away, he says “I like you.” He seems stunned by his own actions. Qing is also stunned, especially since it’s her first kiss (at 26?) but has a clear enough head to say, “This counts as workplace harassment.” To which Ting En responds, “After today, it won’t be.” He tells her that in the future, if she runs into trouble, she can always come back to La Mure, but she responds, “I’m not going back to La Mure.”
They hear Ah Wei calling Qing’s name, so Ting En says “goodbye” and leaves. But, instead of dramatically walking out, he just ends up going back to the party…
Ah Wei finds the still-shocked Qing in the hallway and asks what she and Ting En were doing out there for so long. She says that Ting En was telling her stories. (Lol.)
Back at the party, Qing and Ting En sit apart from each other but are equally robotic. Ah Wei, somewhat oblivious, sits between them and asks exactly what they were doing. Oh, poor boy.
Qing decides that it’s time to leave. Ting En watches her go and sighs. He goes back alone to the La Mure kitchen to do his favorite activity: cooking while drunk. He keeps thinking about Qing, and realizes that he’s actually fallen in love with her.
Grandma Huo asks Xiao Bin for all the information he has on Wei Fen Qing, then swears him to secrecy. She seems concerned that Qing and Ting En are close.
Ah Wei waits up for Qing at home, hoping she hasn’t forgotten that it’s his birthday. He ends up chatting with a mop and a plant because… he has no other friends?
Qing can’t help but think about Ting En’s kiss, but it’s Ah Wei’s birthday so she focuses on the birthday boy instead. Ah Wei has just about lost hope when he hears someone calling his name, and looks over the side of the building to see that Qing has written “Happy B-Day” in candles on the ground. She shows up on the rooftop with a cake for him.
After blowing out his candles, he turns on his surprise for her: a string light set-up complete with a heart. She loves it, but interprets it as a sign of friendship. (C’mon girl, it’s a heart.) He confesses, saying “I like you.” She freezes, then decides that he must mean he likes her a lot as a friend and says that she likes him back. They go back and forth, shouting off the rooftop about how each of them is the one who likes the other the most in the world.
Uh oh, this is not going to end well… maybe the fact that Qing didn’t have her first kiss until she was 26 explains how willfully oblivious she is to Ah Wei’s feelings for her. That poor, poor boy…
Mei Li is delighted to hear that Yanisi has secured some key reservations at its restaurants that are not La Mure, thanks to Yu Qing’s father. She nudges Tian Zhi to get married quickly. It turns out that she was the one to pick Yu Qing out as Tian Zhi’s match because of her connection to a large chain of coffee shops. That explains a lot, such as why Tian Zhi seems to be in no hurry to get married, and why Mei Li adores Yu Qing so much.
Mei Li is looking forward to how these upcoming reservations will elevate Yanisi as a whole, while emphasizing how far La Mure has fallen under Ting En’s leadership. Unfortunately for her, Grandma Huo arrives home and overhears that last bit and demands to know what she means. Tian Zhi is able to smooth things over, but it’s pretty clear that there’s no love lost between Grandma Huo and Mei Li.
Qing wakes up, overjoyed that she doesn’t have to go to La Mure anymore. She and Ting En both quickly fall back into their old routines. Qing goes off with her night market family on a restocking expedition, while Ting En preps his kitchen staff for the embassy dinner that night.
Ting En’s test dishes don’t go well, which frustrates him. His head chef, Jack, is also frustrated by how their fine dining restaurant has been reduced to making street food. They debate what it means to be a fine dining restaurant, something Ting En has thought a lot about lately, perhaps because of Qing. Isn’t putting all of their hearts into making good food enough to make it “fine dining”? Jack disagrees.