This week’s episode is all about family and family drama. And some kitchen drama, but not the kind you’d expect based on last episode’s ending.But first: the family drama.
Hai Wei decides that if Ting En won’t be proactive about dating Ru Xi, she will be. She meets up with Ru Xi and tells her how she wants Ru Xi to be Ting En’s “friend for life.” Both Hai Wei and Ru Xi’s father are looking forward to Ru Xi and Ting En getting married. Not only are the two well-matched in terms of looks and interests, their union would also make a great business match. Ru Xi at least has the decency to say that Ting En needs to agree to the marriage as well and her smile fades slightly as Hai Wei talks about the business aspects of their union.
Ru Xi shows up at Ah Wei’s apartment bearing a birthday gift and they catch up for a little bit. Ah Wei tells Ru Xi that he’s decided to be bold for love and plans on openly pursuing Qing. Ru Xi has also decided to be brave and proactive about her relationship with Ting En. Ah Wei admits that Ting En is a good person, despite his dislike of him because of Qing, but also recognizes that their father would have chosen him because of his family ties. Ru Xi shares Ah Wei’s distaste for being used by their father for the sake of business, but she also likes Ting En enough as a person to not mind.
Hai Wei visits Ting En next to ask him why he hasn’t started dating Ru Xi yet. Ting En responds that he has an important dinner to be focusing on, which just sets his mother off more because she was already upset that he had agreed to do Mei Li’s bidding. The conflict escalates and Hai Wei demands to know if Ting En is purposely countering her because he blames her for being Huo’s mistress and bringing them into the Huo family, which led to Ting Li’s death. Ting En says that he could blame her and hate her, but he doesn’t because she’s his mother and he understands that everything she’s done has been to protect them. But he’s an adult now with his own abilities. He doesn’t need her protection anymore, and he doesn’t want to fight over the Huo family holdings against Mei Li and the other half of his family. Hai Wei responds that she has no regrets about the past: she would make the same choices all over again. Moreover, she adds, Ting En doesn’t have a choice when it comes to the Huo family. It’s his responsibility to fight for and hold onto as much power in the family and company as he can because otherwise he will have nothing.
She leaves, brushing past Qing, who is on her way in. Qing can tell that Ting En is in a bad mood because of his forced smile, but he doesn’t want to talk. She comes bearing “good” news – she’s found David, the man who convinced Ting Li to leave home. But Ting En’s in no mood to hear about the past and lashes out at Qing for getting involved in his business. He even gets a little physical, grabbing her collar, but comes to his senses before he does anything worse. He tells her to leave. Qing is pissed, mostly that he refuses to be helped, and says she’ll never step foot in La Mure again. Once she’s gone, he slams his fists against his desk and looks like he’s on the brink of a panic attack.
Ah Wei decides that he wants to help Qing open an actual restaurant and asks the night market family to all pitch in with some cash to make that dream a reality.
Qing’s anger, combined with a convenient splash of soda from a passerby, causes her to get into an accident on the road. When Ah Wei finds out, he immediately goes white and parkours his way through the hospital to find her. Thankfully, she’s physically okay with only a few scrapes and bruises. But emotionally, she’s a wreck from the combined shock and stress of her accident and Ting En’s shockingly rude behavior. She clutches her heart and asks why it hurts so much. Ah Wei sits and comforts her as she cries on his shoulder over another man.
Ting En is full of regret over how he treated Qing, and can’t stop imagining her in the kitchen. Inexplicably, he also starts reminiscing about the past and the reason why he entered a culinary career in the first place: when he was young, Mr. Huo suggested to Hai Wei that Ting En study cooking because he already had a raw talent for it. Hai Wei was reluctant to force Ting En into a specific path when he was so young, but Mr. Huo thought utilizing Ting En’s talents would be the best way to protect him, Hai Wei, and Ting Li from Mei Li. Ting En overheard the conversation and spoke up, saying that he wanted to study cooking.
Perhaps he’s hallucinating, because he also starts wrangling with stomach pain and finds out that all of La Mure’s staff have come down with food poisoning from the staff lunch. Xiao Bin and Ting En rush to contact everyone they know to try and find some help, but no one is available on such short notice. Their call for help attracts attention as rumors swirl around why La Mure’s kitchen is such a mess.
Tian Zhi wants to help and send over some people from his own kitchen, but Yu Qing convinces him otherwise. She’s more politically astute and business savvy and recognizes that this is a great opportunity for Tian Zhi to succeed and gain recognition within Yanisi while Ting En fails. It’s what his mother would want. Tian Zhi doesn’t want to be so cold-hearted, but he’s also busy with an upcoming dinner event at his own restaurant. They don’t have the people to spare so he doesn’t take any action.
Ah Wei and the night market family surprise Qing with a freshly-painted, new night market stall. It boosts her mood, but then Uncle Rib finds out that La Mure is in trouble and asking for kitchen staff, so they all go help La Mure instead.
Ting En and Xiao Bin are unable to find anyone to help. As a last resort, Ting En tells Xiao Bin to call Qing, but then changes his mind, remembering how Qing said she wouldn’t step foot in La Mure ever again. He’s just about ready to handle the dinner service all by himself when Ting En shows up with her night market family in tow like superheroes in an Avengers movie. Ah Wei makes it clear to Ting En that he’s there to help Qing, not him.
Ru Xi also shows up and does her part in helping out La Mure and Ting En by using her connections to keep the internet and media rumor mill at bay, and shepherding the guests as they arrive.
The kitchen is chaotic — the night market folks each have their own way of doing things which is at odds with the precision of a fine dining kitchen — but they are better versed in street eats than your run-of-the-mill La Mure chef and they get the job done. Ting En lets Qing have the honor of plating the dishes, and in the end, he tells them all that he’s proud of the work they’ve done.
Table service starts and it seems to be going well until the guest of honor, the Brazilian ambassador, waves Xiao Bin over and whispers something in his ear. Xiao Bin’s face immediately becomes serious. Mei Li smirks. Xiao Bin rushes back to the kitchen, where the waiting kitchen staff assault him with questions. What did the ambassador say?!
They just love ending these episodes on fake cliffhangers like this! Based on our past episodes, I bet there ends up being zero negative drama. Instead, the ambassador was probably like, “Can I speak with your head chef.” And they’ll bring Qing out, and then he’ll be like, “Wow this is the best thing I’ve ever tasted.”
So there does end up being kitchen drama and Qing does end up showing up with her night market family to save La Mure. I thought this would happen, but it didn’t happen in the way I expected! Instead of Jack leading some coup of the kitchen, it ends up being boring old food poisoning. And I don’t think Jack is crazy or upset enough to induce food poisoning in all the staff and himself just to spite Ting En. That would be a bit much. Similarly, I thought Qing’s text last episode to all her night market friends was to call on them to help Ting En, but it turns out she was actually looking for Ting Li’s boyfriend. That didn’t turn out at all the way I thought it would!
I didn’t really touch upon the Ah Wei-Qing relationship much in my recap, but this episode clarified that Ah Wei did not interpret Qing’s “I really like you” statement last episode as a sign of reciprocation. I guess having your crush cry on your shoulder over someone who is not you can tell you that real fast. He spent some time this episode daydreaming of ways he could make his confession more obviously romantic, and solidifying his rivalry with Ting En when it comes to Qing’s heart.
After watching Love and Pi and this show so far, I feel like these showrunners just love throwing Ben Wu and Ivy Shao into these pseudo-sibling romances. Considering Love and Pi came out after The Perfect Match, it seems pretty likely that their relationship in this show won them the OTP relationship in Love and Pi. I think the pseudo-sibling vibe is kind of weird. It didn’t really work for me in Love and Pi and it’s not really working for me here, but I guess enough people liked it that they got to portray this type of relationship twice.