Greasy Melo: Episodes 17-20
As the two restaurants prep their menus for battle, Poong struggles to choose between his respect for Chil-sung and his growing affection for Sae-woo. Bromance or romance? If being able to order half-and-half dishes at a restaurant is no big deal, then why can’t it be an option when deciding which person deserves the most loyalty?
EPISODES 17-20 WEECAP
After taking off his wedding ring and telling Sae-woo that he’s no longer married, Poong makes good on his offer to make her noodles. Sae-woo happily slurps down down her wonton noodles and then tries to clarify what he meant earlier about sharing his favorite song with her.
Poong vaguely explains that it’s because they’re the “wok and ladle” so it means they can have that kind of relationship, but Sae-woo refuses to accept his ambiguity. They bicker about what it means to have an ambiguous relationship, but Poong refuses to cave on his firm stance so Sae-woo continues eating, anyway.
Seol-ja and Maeng-dal return to the restaurant after their meal (which included lots of alcohol). Maeng-dal drunkenly accuses Sae-woo of breaking Chil-sung’s heart and actually plays the recorded conversation as Sae-woo dies of embarrassment hearing herself farting in front of Chil-sung (not to mention all the other things she said to try and convince Chil-sung not to fall in love with her). Maeng-dal insists that Chil-sung can’t get over his feelings just because Sae-woo told him too.
Everyone’s surprised when Chil-sung suddenly arrives at the restaurant, since he should still be recuperating at the hospital. He wonders why everyone looks so glum, reassuring them that he’ll be released tomorrow but just wanted some decent food, which Poong proceeds to make for him. But Poong’s attitude has turned thoughtful and somber after listening to the recorded conversation where Chil-sung confessed that he liked Sae-woo.
Poong’s ready to deliver the bowl of noodles to Chil-sung, but quietly retreats when he overhears Chil-sung admit to Sae-woo that he left the hospital because he wanted to see her. Sae-woo helps Chil-sung return to the hospital, where a nurse chides Chil-sung for leaving in his condition and orders Sae-woo to help make sure Chil-sung focuses on healing.
Chil-sung wants to know if Sae-woo’s had enough to time to think over how she feels, and she admits that she’s grateful that he helped her by loaning her money when it felt like she had too much pride to ask anyone else. Chil-sung quietly says that he would give her all his money if she needed it. Sae-woo tells him that he’s a good man who deserves to find a good woman.
She admits that she was confused when he kissed her, but she’s just a nobody. He should stop liking her. Chil-sung says everything deserves three chances, and Sae-woo reminds him that she already turned him down twice. He points out that she doesn’t really know him yet — she only knows him as a loan shark with a criminal record who gets hurt while fighting.
After Sae-woo leaves the hospital, Poong arrives to check on Chil-sung. Chil-sung asks Poong to stay with him since Chil-sung doesn’t think he’ll be able to sleep if he’s alone. Poong scoffs at him at first, but then admits he feels the same way. They have a laugh that they’re both so melancholy that they need the extra company. Aw.
Poong stays until Chil-sung falls asleep, unable to stop thinking about how Chil-sung admitted to Sae-woo that he couldn’t stop thinking about her. Then he gently tucks his hyung into bed. Aw.
In the morning, Sae-woo arrives at the restaurant surprised to see that Poong’s shoes have been thrown back onto the roof (which he did the night before in a fit of pique), but even more surprised to see the huge banners on Giant Hotel, promoting their new “Whole Shrimp” menu.
The rest of the restaurant staff are indignant on Poong’s behalf, since it proves that someone at Giant Hotel definitely stole Poong’s notebook. Haha, Poong’s banner arrives to promote Happy Wok’s Whole Shrimp menu, but it looks pathetically small and humble in comparison to Giant Hotel’s banners.
Poong’s still determined to continue with their menu, since even if they’re serving the same dishes, they’ll still be vastly undercutting the cost of the hotel dish which should bring in customers. He orders the team to get to work prepping for the Whole Shrimp dishes. But both he (and Sae-woo as his ladle) are having the same difficulty as Giant Hotel in creating the impossibly thin dim sum wrapper.
As Poong’s rattling off orders to Sae-woo, she casually slips in that she signed her divorce papers so she’s no longer married. That stops Poong in his tracks. Sae-woo says she wanted to say it now since she figured they’d be too busy later.
Haha, Poong tries to cover up his frustrated confusion that Sae-woo is officially single by demanding if the rest of the crew have something urgent to tell him. They’re worried that he’s found out that they’re a family, but Poong just needs to find a way to vent his frustration that Sae-woo didn’t tell him sooner she’s no longer married.
Which he does by going to the rooftop and shouting, much to the gangsters bewilderment. Aw, but Poong’s adorably happy to know that both he and Sae-woo are both single and he literally skips back to the restaurant. His joy is halted when he sees the recently-discharged Chil-sung sitting outside.
Chil-sung tells Poong that he’s on Poong’s side, promising to help him win against Giant hotel.
Seol-ja is still worried that Poong will find out how she, Geok-jung, and Jung-hye are all connected, so she creates an elaborate way of communicating that mimics different sounds of horses trotting. Aw, but it only serves as a reminder that Sae-woo’s horse is sad because she hasn’t visited him in a while.
Later that night, Poong sneaks into Giant Hotel and rummages around the kitchen, searching for his notebook. Unbeknownst to Poong, the sneaky Giant Hotel sous chef Sam-seon and his unwilling partner-in-crime Bo-ra are also breaking into Happy Wok to try and figure out how Poong is able to make the dim sum wrappers so thin.
Chil-sung discovers them in the kitchen, but silently watches them steal one of Poong’s dim sum wrappers. They quickly make their escape when they hear someone in the restaurant, but it’s just Chil-sung gesturing to Seol-ja to be quiet. Seol-ja is surprised that Chil-sung would just let them go so easily, and offers to go beat them up for him if he’s still too injured. Pffft.
Meanwhile, Poong finds a photocopy of his notebook in Bo-ra’s locker. Master Wang catches him in the locker room and takes the photocopy back. Master Wang accuses Poong of theft and trespassing, but Poong insists he’s only taking what rightfully belongs to him.
Master Wang points out that anything Poong created at Giant Hotel officially belongs to the hotel, and Poong angrily confronts Master Wang for stealing recipes that don’t belong to him. Where is his honor as a chef? Master Wang burns the photocopy and warns Poong that if he finds the original notebook, he’ll burn that, too.
Sam-seon and Bo-ra return to the Giant Hotel kitchen, and Sam-seon pulls out the notebook from where he’s hidden it so they can figure out how Poong makes his dim sum wrapper so thin. Chil-sung, having followed them to the hotel, snatches the notebook from them, and when Sam-seon protests, Chil-sung knocks him out with a roll of wax paper. Ha!
But Seung-ryong spots Chil-sung on the hotel’s CCTV and orders his men to bring Chil-sung to him. Chil-sung realizes he’s trapped and fights back as best he can in his condition (and with a rolled up magazine as his only weapon).
He tries to escape in the elevator with Gum Granny (who followed Chil-sung to the hotel), but the security guys rush in and continue to beat him up. Chil-sung does his best to defend himself, but accepts the beating in order to protect Gum Granny from being hurt.
They head down to the parking garage where Seol-ja is waiting for them with the car. Chil-sung fights his way out and makes sure he and Gum Granny get away safe — and with Poong’s notebook.
Poong is distraught that the copy he found of his notebook is destroyed and turned to dust. But he rushes to the hospital, concerned for his “hyung” when he hears that Chil-sung has been injured again. Poong’s stunned when Chil-sung hands over the original notebook. Poong’s so overcome with emotion that he can barely speak except to say “thank you.”
As he looks over his precious recipes, Sae-woo tries to quietly practice her wok skills. Poong finds her in the kitchen and actually gives her helpful advice and training. She’s adorably thrilled when her efforts finally produce the correct movement. Both act like they’re not aware of how close they are to each other.
Sae-woo cooks a meal to test her skills, getting way too much satisfaction from ordering around her “ladle,” Poong. As she happily eats her meal, Poong asks when she got divorced. She admits it was when that night when Chil-sung and Poong found her drunk and homeless.
Poong suddenly admits that he likes her, but he also cares about Chil-sung. So Poong won’t go any further, and asks that she not like him, “just in case.” Sae-woo agrees and then takes her leave. Suddenly her homemade meal is no longer so delicious.
Outside the restaurant, Gum Granny is trying to knock down Poong’s shoes from the roof. She tells him that Sae-woo just left and that he should go after her. Even though Poong insists that he and Sae-woo aren’t dating, Gum Granny retorts that he should stop lying to himself and go to the bus stop, since she saw Sae-woo crying her eyes out and wishing she could die.
It’s a big fat lie, but it’s enough to make Poong concerned and run to the bus stop anyway. He finds Sae-woo with her head buried in her knees. But she’s just lost in thought, not crying.
They have a thinly veiled conversation about her working with the wok that’s really about how she feels about working with him. Poong warns her that she’ll be hurt (because her shoulders would be sore from lifting the heavy wok) and will want to quit. But Sae-woo says she likes working with the wok and will take care of herself, so he shouldn’t worry about how she feels.
But on the way home, Sae-woo can’t get Poong out of her head. She goes through all the arguments why it shouldn’t bother her that Poong confessed he likes her in the same breath that he told her to not like him. Even so, Sae-woo can’t stop thinking about the fact that Poong likes her.
Poong picks Chil-sung up from the hospital. Aw. When Chil-sung sees Sae-woo get off at the bus stop, he tells Poong to stop the car so they can all ride to work together. It’s an awkward morning commute as they try to stifle their feelings out of respect for each other.
Later, Chil-sung warns Poong that he should be nicer to Sae-woo. Poong reveals that everyone knows how much Chil-sung likes Sae-woo (which makes Chil-sung choke on his coffee, ha!), and Poong asks what it is Chil-sung likes about her so much. Chil-sung explains that Sae-woo doesn’t care about his tough-guy criminal background, plus she’s beautiful in everything she does.
Poong continues to staunchly insist that Sae-woo isn’t pretty and that he doesn’t like anything Sae-woo does. Yeah, sure, buddy. Nice try, lying to your hyung like that.
Poong creates a test menu for the staff to taste the dim sum shrimp. It looks gorgeous — one large dim sum filled with juicy broth and shrimp. Except… it tastes terrible. The staff are hesitant to tell the chef that his carefully planned menu isn’t good, but Poong insists he wants honest feedback. So then they let him have it, and Sae-woo seems to take special delight in detailing everything the dish is lacking. Ha!
Meanwhile, Master Wang is creating his own spin on the dim sum shrimp by creating a crunchy — and definitely delicious — version of the dumpling. He has to put his own spin on it in order to defeat Poong so that Seung-ryong doesn’t send him back to China.
Poong stops by the hospital to have his wrist checked, and Sae-woo insists on tagging along — only to have her own overworked wrist inspected. Ha! Poong says that she should stop working with the wok since it’s hurting her, but Sae-woo stubbornly says that Poong keeps trying to push people away unnecessarily. She’s good at keeping her personal and professional life separate, so there won’t be a problem.
When Poong and Sae-woo return to the restaurant, Chil-sung asks to speak with Sae-woo, confirming that she’s now divorced. Chil-sung then notes that Poong has removed his wedding ring, confirming that he’s single now, too. Poong says he’s not interesting in dating, though, and would rather focus on work. Mmm-hmmm. Suuure.
Poong is determined to find a way to make the dim sum wrapper even thinner, since that’s the main issue with the dim sum. He tries blowing the dough into a bubble to get it form the shape he needs, but it’s too thin and keeps popping. Awww, the kitty returns to make another cute cameo! Can we keep it, Chef? Can we? Please???
It’s the day before the Whole Shrimp festival begins. Oooh, it’s nice to see Happy Wok full of customers and the kitchen staff busy. Poong orders everyone to focus on prepping the shrimp. Even Seol-ja starts yelling at the staff to peel the shrimp properly, before realizing in horror the harsh way she’s talking to Jung-hye.
Sae-woo relieves her stress by chewing bubblegum since at least then something will form a correct bubble. She also makes dinner — her first real attempt at jajangmyun. She’s so proud, but Poong points out all the errors with the dish.
However, the bubblegum inspires him figure out a new formulation of the dough that will make it more resilient. After a few trial-and-error attempts at a new batter, Poong and Sae-woo finally hit on a mix that makes the perfect bubble.
Sae-woo is so delighted by their success that she kisses Poong on the cheek, which causes him to freeze. Chil-sung sits outside the restaurant, pondering Sae-woo’s declaration that she’s now divorced and Poong’s insistence that he’s focused on work and not interested in dating.
I don’t know if I’ve grown accustomed to the disjointed pacing of this show or if the story is starting to flow better now that we’ve established all of the characters and their motivations, but I feel like the plot is finally settling in. Maybe it’s because there’s a main mission for everyone to focus their energy on — the shrimp battle between Giant Hotel — or maybe it’s because I finally believe that everyone’s feelings for each other seem genuine and not just because the script (or a fortune cookie) says that’s how they should feel.
I adore the affection the Happy Wok family has for each other. Not just the main trio (which I’ll get to in a minute), but the fact that the gangsters are now officially back in the kitchen as prep help and deliverymen (finally!). Even though Master Wang keeps trying to coax Seol-ja back, I giggle over how cute she and Maeng-dal are together (and how loyal she is to Jung-hye). Not to mention how adorable Seo-woo and Geok-jung are, working together to create the noodle dough as she bounces on the bamboo stick. I’m more than ready for this David-and-Goliath war between Happy Wok and Giant Hotel, especially since I’m always one to root for the underdogs who realize that effort, compassion, and respect are more important than always being the best. Not that Poong won’t accept anything less than perfection, of course, but at least he rallies his troops by insisting that their product should be worthy in-and-of itself — instead of relying on fear, like Giant Hotel.
Now, our trio — the beloved, misguided, hopelessly-in-love-with-each-other trio. I can’t even complain about them acting like the usual Noble Idiots because they’re being so reasonable and honest (well, as honest as they can admit to each other — and themselves). The conversations that Sae-woo and Poong had with Chil-sung in the hospital were my favorite moments this week, but that could also be because Jang Hyuk did an amazing job expressing vulnerability while subtly reacting to everything Sae-woo was telling him. But my heart melted the most when Chil-sung admitted to Poong that he didn’t want to be alone. There’s something about this tough-yet-vulnerable gangster that continues to steal my each week, and is why I fully understand Poong’s desire to tamp down his own feelings for Sae-woo with respect to his hyung.
One of the things I love most about this writer is her ability to portray friendship — both the obvious bromance, but also the friendship between women. I love watching Seol-ja and Jung-hye support each other. You’d think that Seol-ja would do the heavy lifting, since Jung-hye seems to be essentially useless except as a way for everyone to be connected. But their conversation on the patio revealed that Jung-hye is more observant and intuitive than perhaps anyone gives her credit for. The other thing I love about this writer is her ability to make me so incredibly hungry with her depiction of food. The characters may say it doesn’t taste good, but it looks so delicious from this side of the screen that I’m not sure how I’m gonna last through next week when the shrimp battle begins in earnest. Let’s just say that my local Chinese delivery place is now on speed dial.