Let’s Eat 2: Episode 1
Get those taste-buds ready, because it’s time for the new season of Let’s Eat, the show where no matter how much you eat, you’ll be hungry once you see all the yummy food that’s so lovingly described and so passionately consumed. Also on the menu are a whole new crop of characters, each one quirky in their own ways. But just like before, it looks like it’s up to Dae-young to turn these solitary neighbors into a family.
EPISODE 1 RECAP
In the wee hours of the morning, a fishing boat captain yells at his crew. As the other men scurry about the boat, one man smiles grimly as he sharpens his knife. He turns to slowly and menacingly approaches the captain, blade shining in the moonlight. Creepy.
The captain yells at the knife-wielding man to start steaming the squid, and from the side of the boat, GOO DAE-YOUNG (Yoon Doo-joon) pauses in the midst of tossing his cookies to protest that the best way to eat freshly caught squid isn’t steamed, but raw. He didn’t come all this way to endure sea-sickness for nothin’. The cook aka knife-man cheerfully says he’ll prepare it right now, and Dae-young gleefully slurps down his freshly prepared sashimi.
Lawyer Oh and Manager Choi (who viewers will remember from the first season) read through Dae-young’s squid sashimi post (complete with his trademark pic of an empty bowl), and Manager Choi wonders if he’s just going to travel the country, eating everywhere.
Lawyer Oh starts to cry as she says it’s been so hard for Dae-young since he was sued by a restaurant for his poor review of the food and then was beat-up by the husband of one of Dae-young’s potential insurance clients because he thought his wife was having an affair with Dae-young (which wasn’t true, although not for the lack of his wife trying).
Manager Choi sighs that it seems like it’s been hard for Dae-young ever since he and Soo-kyung broke up. No, say it isn’t so! Lawyer Oh asks him why they broke up and Manager Choi leans in conspiratorially, about to tell her, but is interrupted by a phone call from his wife. Turning back to the computer, Lawyer Oh pouts that she hopes Dae-young will come back to Seoul soon.
For right now, he’s busy driving around the country, and he finally ends up in Sejong City. As he walks along looking for a good real estate agent, he weeds out the ones that have cheap rental postings up just to lure you in, or new offices that won’t have many listings. He zeros in on the one where all the neighborhood ahjummas are hanging out, knowing it will have what he’s looking for.
The estate agent ahjumma cheerfully shows him to a room that she insists will be perfect for him, and as she rattles off all the benefits, he counters that he probably won’t need it for the full year. She tries to sell him on the fact that his neighbors are quiet, but he says that makes him anxious he’ll be too loud.
Her pleasant saleswomen façade drops as she says they should speak plainly, and he asks that the rental price be lowered. But the landlord won’t allow that, and she offers instead to waive her commission fee. As they sign the rental papers, Dae-young begs one more time that she try to convince the landlord to lower the cost of the monthly rent, but she says that’s impossible — the landlord would never agree. That’s because she’s the landlord. Ha!
Dae-young meets up with his friend and fellow insurance man, IM TAEK-SOO (Kim Hee-won), who greets him happily. He’s surprised that Dae-young chose to relocate here, and agrees to take him to lunch at the best restaurant he knows.
Over lunch, it becomes clear why Dae-young moved — ever since the government moved it’s base of operations, more single people live here, which means there’s a better chance for him to sell more insurance. He’s planning to make enough in commission to move back to Seoul in six months.
But the food at this restaurant isn’t that great, and Dae-young wonders why Taek-soo thinks this is such a special place. Taek-soo smiles and points out that all the staff are beautiful young women — for him, being pleasing to the eye is more important than being pleasing to the stomach.
As Dae-young moves into his new apartment, he gets his first glimpses of his neighbors. First the grandma who lives downstairs (and who barely acknowledges him). Next, his neighbor across the hall, BAEK SOO-JI (Seo Hyun-jin), who gasps and slams the door in his face. The landlord apologizes, saying she just keeps to herself.
Dae-young takes out the trash and sees the cute little pup the grandma had been feeding earlier, and is obviously the Barassi stand-in for this season. Before he returns to his apartment, Dae-young stops to formally introduce himself to the grandma, immediately charming his way into her apartment by giving her rice cakes and then pouring the heavy bag of rice into her storage container.
She invites him to share in the rice cakes with her, and he continues to be his charming self as we learn that her name is Lee Jeom-yi, she has two grandchildren, and she’s happy to live alone after taking care of her family for so long because she can do whatever she wants, when she wants. Including deciding whether or not to cook.
They head out to have lunch together, and as they leave the apartment, the rest of his boxes arrive. It’s just his clothes and he drops them off at the local dry cleaners. Aw, it’s nice to know that his habit of using the dry cleaners as his personal closet isn’t just limited to Seoul.
When he returns home, he’s pleased that he’s won over the grandma, so now he just needs to win over the girl across the hall. Speak of the devil — the doorbell rings, and it’s Soo-ji, who orders him to follow her. He’s proud that he sorted out his recycling (which is definite growth from the first season), but Soo-ji pulls out the staple from the box and points out the aluminum cap on the soju bottle, telling him that metal needs to be separated.
It looks like living next to Soo-ji isn’t exactly going to be sunshine and roses, as she continually pesters him about small infractions, such as parking an inch over the line or singing loudly in his shower (pffft, it’s “12:30” by Beast. Oh, the meta). Dae-young tries to counter that the TV in the downstairs apartment is much louder, but Soo-ji excuses it because the grandma is hard of hearing.
Frustrated, Dae-young wonders why she’s being so difficult just with him, but then grins as he decides that she must actually like him.
The next morning, as Soo-ji walks to work, she practically floats on all the delicious scents coming from each house. She can pinpoint exactly what kind of meal it is just by smell, and as she’s trying to keep from drooling, Dae-young appears, asking if she’s had breakfast. When she walks off, ignoring him, he decides it’s proof that she must really like him. Of course.
Dae-young is confident he can sweet-talk his way into the large government building so he can get more clients and earn back his “Insurance King” crown. The security guard immediately kicks him out, wise to his ways. Dae-young tries all his charming tricks (and even just tries running past), but that security guard isn’t falling for it. As he’s walking away, Dae-young observes the guard greet Soo-ji and wave her on in.
She’s there to meet with public official LEE SANG-WOO (Kwon Yul) and HONG IN-AH (Jo Eun-ji). Seems like Soo-ji has a bit of a crush on the no-nonsense Sang-woo, based on the way she gazes at him while he flips through the project she submitted.
When In-ah notes that Soo-ji’s schedule seems pretty open, she’s sighs that she’s jealous of freelancers who have time to do whatever they want, suggesting that they should go out for drinks sometime. Soo-ji perks up a bit at this, no doubt because of the chance to spend more time with Sang-woo.
Oblivious to the women’s conversation around him, Sang-woo says the project looks good and they can meet again next week. But he refers to her as “Writer Park,” much to Soo-ji’s dismay and In-ah’s amusement. In-ah laughingly corrects him, wondering how he could still get it wrong after all this time — it’s “Writer Baek.” Clearly he’s the kind of a guy who can’t be bothered to remember a name when the person doesn’t matter to him. But the joke’s on her when he gets her name wrong, too.
It’s payday at one of Soo-ji’s jobs, but she’s stunned when she’s handed a gift box of dried seaweed instead of cash. Turns out that’s how the company was paid to sponsor a seaweed promotion, and they don’t have any money to pay her otherwise. At home, she cries as she eats her rice and seaweed, unable to afford anything else.
Sang-woo leaves work and drives home to his large, fancy, and very empty apartment where there’s no one to greet him but the Roomba. He grabs his bike and heads out for a ride.
The landlord and Grandma argue over her feeding the stray (but oh-so adorable) dog. Dae-young walks up, and when he asks what kind of writing Soo-ji does at the government building, the women are surprised to learn she works there. Dae-young decides that it’s not right that neighbors don’t know each other very well, suggesting they all have dinner together.
When he rings the doorbell to her apartment, asking if she’ll join him, Soo-ji immediately declines and shuts the door. But as soon as he offers to pay, she opens it up again, all smiles. Can she choose the restaurant?
Soo-ji selects a Chinese restaurant, and all the neighbors settle in at the large round table. The landlord also brings along her son, who ignores them all to play on his phone. Dae-young tries to continue to charm Soo-ji and figure out what exactly she does at the government building, but she ignores him to place her order.
She rattles of a long list of all the entrees and the women are amazed that she’ll be able to eat it all. Now’s the time to start salivating as we see the food being prepared, and as the meal is laid out for them, Soo-ji just watches while everyone happily chows down.
The landlord and grandma ask about what she does at the government building, and she’s surprised to learn they know about her job there, but admits that she writes about events for the Department of Travel and Tourism. When Dae-young reaches for the sauce to pour on the fried pork, a horrified Soo-ji stops him. The sauce will make the fried pork soggy, which is an insult to fried food.
Dae-Young goes into foodie-mode as he explains that the historical purpose of adding the sauce to the fried food was to make it softer, and that’s traditionally how one should eat it. But Soo-ji counters that, in modern day, the sauce is on the side since Chinese food is mostly delivered, and it keeps it from getting soggy. It’s better to dip it to retain the crunch factor.
She wins that argument, and begins eating with gusto. So does everyone else, and Dae-young silently protests as he pours his sauce over his fried pork instead of dipping it. Everyone’s full from their expansive meal (and expensive meal, as Dae-young blanches when he sees the menu prices), but Soo-ji orders cold jellyfish salad as a palate cleanser. Everyone watches in amazement as she happily slurps it down.
Grandma wonders how she can eat so much and stay so thin. Those words strike a chord, and Soo-ji forces a polite smile, agreeing that it’s time to go.
The ladies (and son) all thank Dae-young for dinner, and he tries to discretely ask how much the bill was, nearly passing out when he finds out that it’s $670. Yikes. As he pulls out his wallet, the cashier says he doesn’t have to pay: the restaurant is having their 10th anniversary celebration, and he’s the 100th customer that night. So it’s free!
Dae-young is relieved and delighted, saying that if it weren’t for Soo-ji deciding to order another dish, he would have only been the 99th customer. He’s elated by his good luck, so Soo-ji suggests going for another round, but the other women need to get home.
Just the two of them now, Dae-young offers to buy her spicy rice cakes. Instead, she grabs him by the collar, insisting that he’s been pretending not to know all along, hasn’t he? He was no idea what she’s talking about, and she rattles off her name, name of her grade school, and class year. Surprised, he says that he was in that class, too. Wait, isn’t she Baek “Dwae-ji” (“Pig”)?
Yes, she shouts. That’s her. Baek “Pig.” In a flashback, we see the adorable fifth-grade Dae-young defend the bullied and overweight fifth-grade Soo-ji. She had thought they were close friends, and would eat plate after plate of spicy rice cakes at Dae-young’s mother’s café. When she learned that her beloved Dae-young was transferring schools, she felt that the world was ending.
She went to deliver a letter expressing her feelings to him, but when she overheard Dae-young reassure his mother that he’ll make new friends and bring them over to her café to buy food, she realized he was just using her and her appetite.
Grown-up Soo-ji growls that ever since that day, the smell of spicy rice cakes makes her sick. Dae-young pulls her in for a hug, delighted that he lives next door to an old friend. She pushes him away, still furious at how much he hurt her when they was younger. He explains that he didn’t mean it that way, and marvels that she’s lost so much weight.
She angrily tells him that she was so traumatized that she gained even more weight and was afraid to leave the house for years. The only way she lost the weight was by going on a strict diet and — well, why does he need to know? When he tries to compliment her on how pretty she is now, she warns him that she’ll be getting her revenge, and then kicks him in the shins before walking away.
When she arrives home, she clutches her bloated stomach, wondering why she ate so much. She was only planning to order a lot of expensive food and then not eat it, just to make him pay, but instead she ended up eating it all.
As she sprawls out on the floor, she calculates all the calories she ate that night. Gasping at the realization that she consumed over 5,000 calories in one meal, she hurries outside to work them off with her jump rope.
Dae-young hears the noise and leans out the window, learning that she picked the expensive restaurant on purpose. He chides her for her habit of talking to herself, but he agrees it’s normal for someone who’s lived by themselves for a long time. She refuses to engage with him, and he continues to chatter on, speculating that she must exercise a lot, especially if she lost all that weight. That much stress on her joints isn’t healthy.
She cuts him off, telling him she doesn’t want his insurance pitch, and tries to throw the jump rope at him, but it only falls back in her face. Annoyed, she says that her life has become a disaster ever since he moved in, and yells a him to get down there. She’s ready to take him on, but he wisely stays up in his room.
Epilogue: While Dae-young sleeps, someone crouches down outside his door in the middle of the night, peering through the mail slot.
I loved the first season. As in, love loved it. I was super wary when I learned that there would be a second season but the only original cast member would be Yoon Doo-joon, because the primary reason I loved the original season was for all the characters, especially Lee Soo-kyung. So I watched this first episode with a very cautious and cynical eye, already deciding in my mind that there’s no possible way it could live up to the original.
But I have to grudgingly admit that it’s won me over. I genuinely enjoyed it, despite myself, and while I still miss all the cast from the previous season, I’m slowly accepting that everyone in this second season seems like they could be a lot of fun, too. Or at least people I could start to care about like I did the previous cast. I suppose if you had to just keep one character from the first season, Dae-young is definitely the one to keep (although yay for finding a cute new pup to replace that Barassi-shaped hole), and I appreciate that Yoon Doo-joon has effortlessly fallen back into the role, so much so that I routinely forget that he’s an idol (except when the show cheekily decides to remind me).
Another reason I was originally so resistant to this new season was because I just couldn’t fathom Dae-young being part of another love triangle. Dae-young and Soo-kyung are meant to be together, and to have them break up just for the sake of creating a story for another season just doesn’t seem worth it. Which is why, I’ll admit, I’m blindly hoping that the break-up was just a misunderstanding and we’ll have a surprise cameo at the end where Dae-young and Soo-kyung get back together, revealing that his stint in Sejong was just to pad his savings account for the wedding. Hey, a girl can dream.
But I have fallen for Soo-ji and her prickly ways, and I like the fact we get to learn more about Dae-young’s past through her (which is something I was very curious about in the original season). It’ll be interesting to see the dynamic between the gourmet Dae-young and the recovering gourmand Soo-ji, even without getting into their past history.
Considering Kwak Yul is billed as one of the leads, it’s a pity we only got a brief glimpse of Sang-woo, but I’m sure we’ll discover what secrets he’s hiding, too. Maybe he’s a fitness freak the same way Soo-jin has had to be. At the very least, I hope Soo-jin shares her weight-loss secrets, because I just know from experience that seeing all the delicious food every week will make me want to raid my fridge, even if I’ve just eaten dinner.
My only true complaint is that they’ve added back my least favorite component of the original season — the “mystery” aspect. I didn’t really care for the whodunnit the original time around as it felt unnecessary, and so when that epilogue appeared, I sighed in annoyance. Perhaps it’ll be revealed that it’s nothing serious, or perhaps we’ll learn the downstairs Grandma was murdered or kidnapped. It does seem like we’re set up for something, especially since the show keeps dropping hints about Taek-soo being in the Investigation Unit of the insurance company and was originally a detective.
Even with these misgivings, I did really enjoy the first episode, which fills me with hope for the rest of the show. Since this is really just a look at the first episode (no guarantee of further recaps, sorry!), I will admit that while I’m hesitant to suggest that Let’s Eat 2 will capture the magic of the first season, it seems like it will be a fun and entertaining drama that will be wholly enjoyable on its own, even for those (or especially for those!) who never saw the original season.
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