Greasy Melo: Episodes 31-34
Now that the battle of hearts is won, it’s time to focus on the battle of the kitchens. The honor of Hungry Wok is put on the line as it faces its final showdown with Giant Hotel. Will David finally beat Goliath, once and for all, leading to sweet victory? Or will there only be salty tears of defeat?
EPISODES 31-34 WEECAP
Poong reveals that he knows all about Sae-woo’s family working for him. But Seol-ja comes out of hiding (along with the stunned Maeng-dal, who has only heard of the familial connection just now) and is more determined to confront Poong and Sae-woo for secretly dating. Seol-ja insists that the couple should break up, especially since she knows how Jung-hye would react if she found out.
But Sae-woo and Poong have no desire to stop dating. Seol-ja remains loyal to Jung-hye, for whom she’s worked the past twenty years, and tells Poong that if he won’t break up with Sae-woo, then he’ll have to find a new kitchen staff since she and Geok-jung won’t be returning to Happy Wok.
In the morning, Chil-sung and his boys set up camp in Giant hotel, exercising their right to protest. They only take up the space allotted to them, and they’re quiet and respectful, so the security team has no real excuse to call the police or kick them out. But they’re still a hindrance as the spectacle causes guests to think twice about staying there.
Chil-sung receives word that Seung-ryong is planning to sell the hotel restaurant to someone else and use that money to pay off the loan that currently gives the gangster’s the right to protest. But the hotel is useless without its restaurant, so Chil-sung makes an offer to Seung-ryong: Poong and Master Wang have a cooking battle, and the winner gets the hotel (including the restaurant).
Seung-ryong agrees, but only if Chil-sung closes Hungry Wok if Poong loses. Chil-sung is confident that Poong will win so he accepts the conditions. The protesting gangsters leave the hotel under a temporary truce until the cooking competition.
Ha, Poong’s been nervously sitting in his car outside Sae-woo’s house all night. The family are just waking up and getting ready for the day when Poong rings the doorbell, and they’re all astonished to see him walk in. But Jung-hye is even more shocked when he greets her politely and calls her “mother.”
Jung-hye’s surprises keep coming when Poong calmly states that he’s dating Sae-woo, and that he’ll continue to date her no matter how much Jung-hye tries to forbid it. He asks for her blessing and tells them all not to be late to work. Then he leaves as they all stare wide-eyed at him (and Sae-woo tries to hide her smile).
Jung-hye is determined that her family will have nothing to do with Poong, and warns them that if they go to work at Hungry Wok, then they’re no longer a part of her household. Sae-woo tries to talk sense into her mother, reminding her that they’re currently broke with no idea of when Dad will be released from jail, and considering their situation, Jung-hye should be happy her daughter is able to find a decent guy who loves her.
Despite being short-staffed, Hungry Wok is hopping during the lunch rush. Poong has to simplify the menu so that the gangster-chefs can handle the demand, but it’s still as delicious as ever.
One of the customers is none other than Ms. Veterinarian, and as Chil-sung rushes around taking orders and serving tables, she greets him cheerfully. He’s polite but doesn’t remember who she is, which irritates her ’cause she’s clearly got a crush on him. She tells him her name and warns him not to forget it.
Finally the day is over and Poong can relax. He and Chil-sung sit on the patio with their beers and Chil-sung tells him about the bet over the hotel. Poong immediately worries about what will happen if he loses, but Chil-sung is confident that Poong will win. Besides, if they lose, then they can go to some small country town and make a new life there, and Chil-sung will live happily-ever-after eating Poong’s food. It sounds like an adorable (and hilariously romantic) dream.
Poong panics due to the pressure and insists that he can’t do it. If he loses, then Chil-sung loses everything, too, which means that their friendship would be destroyed as well. Poong couldn’t handle being alienated from his hyung. So it’s better to not try than face the risk of losing.
Chil-sung asks how Poong is able to make Sae-woo happy with that kind of attitude, which stops Poong in his tracks. Chil-sung says he knows all about the two of them, and Poong suddenly agrees to do the competition. Not for Sae-woo, who will love him no matter what, but for Chil-sung. Aw, is it because he realizes that he’s already taken away one thing Chil-sung loves, so he can’t do it again to Chil-sung’s building?
As Poong and Master Wang decide on the details of the competition, Chil-sung tells Sae-woo that he met with her father. Chil-sung has also been able to find witnesses who will testify that her father was framed, so Dad should be released from jail soon. Sae-woo is overwhelmed with joy and hugs Chil-sung, who so clearly wants to hug her back but manages to keep his arms at his side. Aw.
Sae-woo promises to keep it a secret from her family until the release is official, but she’s so overjoyed that she can’t hide it when she sees Poong at the restaurant.
He’s in the middle of practicing his competition dish, but he doesn’t complain about a little exuberant make-out session.
Sae-woo worries about how he’s managing without Seol-ja and Geok-jung, and Poong says he’ll find a way, but he really needs her and Seol-ja for the competition. They realize that they could convince Seol-ja to sneak out by using Maeng-dal as bait. Seol-ja totally falls for it, thinking she’s going to be having a drink with Maeng-dal, but really Poong is there to ask her to come back.
He shows her the lobster dish he’s created for the competition, and most of the technique relies on her skills of de-shelling. Without her, Poong won’t be able to finish in time. Despite being drawn in by the complexity of the dish, Seol-ja knows that if she agrees, she might not ever see Jung-hye again. It’s a tough decision for her.
The morning of the cooking competition arrives and Jung-hye refuses to let Seol-ja or Sae-woo leave. But Poong is still confident his staff will arrive, even though they’re not there when the timer begins for the first dish.
The competition is an Iron Chef style battle, where there are two rounds that focus on an ingredient each chef has selected (Poong chooses lobster for the first round and Master Wang chooses pork belly for the second). 100 guests will taste the dishes and then choose which one they like best. The winner is declared by who gets the most total votes.
Poong does his best to hurry through his lobster shucking, even though he’s fully aware that it’s next-to impossible for him to cook and shell all the lobsters by himself. Master Wang is not surprised that Poong’s support crew isn’t with him, and for good reason — even if Jung-hye weren’t being stubborn, the “Crooked” gangster and his guys are lying in wait to prevent Seol-ja from getting to the competition.
Thankfully, Maeng-dal and Sae-woo manage to convince Seol-ja to hurry to the hotel, but once they park, they’re boxed in by the gangsters and they can’t get out of the car. Poong has no one to help him, much to Master Wang’s smirking satisfaction.
With help from Geok-jung, Seol-ja and Sae-woo are able to escape and run to the banquet room, where they’re too late to help Poong, but he’s somehow managed to put out enough dishes. Whew. Unfortunately, his haste means that the lobster isn’t as delicious as it could have been, and so 75 out of the 100 votes go to Maser Wang. Boo.
But Seol-ja and Sae-woo are ready to assist for the pork belly challenge. How hard can it be to convince 76 out of 100 people to vote for Poong’s second dish?
Master Wang realizes that they’re running out of time and decides to minimize a few steps, but that comes back to haunt him when his dish turns out to be inedible (despite his flashy showmanship, something he once threatened to fire Poong for).
Which means Poong is the clear winner! Yay!
This also means that exactly one year after he walked out of the hotel, Poong’s revenge is complete. As he and Sae-woo celebrate the victory, Poong worries that his new responsibility as head chef at Giant Hotel will make it difficult for them to see each other. But Sae-woo says that she plans to follow him to the hotel kitchen.
She still wants to cook by his side, even though with her father being released from prison, she will no longer need to work to make money. Poong is worried that Sae-woo will start to hate him, since running a huge hotel kitchen means he’ll be even tougher than before.
As Poong settles into his new kitchen, the sneaky sous chef Sam-sun submits his letter of resignation. He won’t work for Poong, but Poong points out that since everyone knows that Sam-sun stole Poong’s recipe book, Sam-sun will have a hard time finding another job. Besides, Poong knows that Sam-sun is skilled so he’s content to keep Sam-sun as his sous chef.
Meanwhile, Chil-sung has been worried that he hasn’t seen his mother for awhile. He goes to her house, but she’s not there, and finds a note that she went away on a trip and that Chil-sung shouldn’t go looking for her. Even so, Chil-sung thinks it strange that she’s suddenly disappeared, and ultimately discovers that she’s in the hospital. Gum Granny has cancer.
The gangsters and Sae-woo are thrilled to be working in the hotel kitchen, even though they’re all low in the pecking order. Geok-jung and Seol-ja, alas, aren’t there, but that’s because they’re still trying to convince Jung-hye and her husband to let them work at the hotel.
Sae-woo is Sam-sun’s assistant, so her tasks are to mostly run around fetching ingredients for him, but she keeps making mistakes and Sam-sun yells at her. He doesn’t tell her what she did wrong, just that she’s wrong. He’s a total ass about it, and Sae-woo’s near tears, despite her best efforts to hold it all in and remain professional.
Poong’s watching his new staff carefully and is fully aware of how Sae-woo is struggling, and finally steps in to tell her exactly what she’s doing wrong and what she should do to fix it. Poong sounds gruff, but it’s actually compassionate so that Sae-woo can learn how to fix her mistakes. It’s also a warning to Sae-woo to let her know that it won’t be easy working for him.
But it’s difficult for Poong to remain neutral when watching Sam-sun being purposefully obnoxious to Sae-woo. It doesn’t help when he gets a call from Sae-woo’s father, who asks Poong to fire Sae-woo.
Sae-woo’s exhausted after a full day of being the put-upon kitchen maknae and is too tired to stand. Poong reminds her that kitchen life is tough, but then offers to give her a piggyback ride. She thinks his offer to let her stay overnight at the hotel means there’s a night duty room for the crew to crash in, but it’s actually Poong’s private room that he gets as part of his head chef perks.
Poong deposits her on the bed and starts to leave, but then returns and helps her brush her teeth and tuck her in. He clearly doesn’t want to leave her, but she’s already half-asleep. As he carefully tries taking off her chef’s jacket, she sleepily asks if this a dream. Unlike at the hospital, this time Poong tells her it’s very, very real. Then he adds, “Sleep with me.”
Oh, Poong-ah, what are you doing? I realize that you are in love and want some sexy fun times, especially after refusing Sae-woo’s advances for so long, but Sae-woo’s barely conscious! Leave the exhausted woman alone! C’mon Poong, be the quality gentleman that Chil-sung believes you to be.
While I appreciate that the show isn’t afraid to make it clear that Sae-woo and her family were being disingenuous with their lies, I’m really tired of Jung-hye’s hate for Poong. I was particularly baffled when she visited him after the competition to continue her endless complaint that he should break up with Sae-woo because he’s not good enough for their family. I could reasonably understand her fear before the competition because she’s the kind of person who believes that money is everything. I may not agree with her, but I can at least understand where she’s coming from.
But once Poong became the head chef of a Michelin-star restaurant, you’d think she’d realize that money is no longer going to be an issue. It made her argument sound even more vapid and annoying, and made me even less receptive in my attempt to appreciate her worry about losing her staff to Poong.
I’m still irritated that Seol-ja and Geok-jung are currently accepting their fate. Sure, maybe it’s hard to abandon someone you’ve been loyal to for twenty years and who took you in when no one else did, but c’mon Seol-ja, you could be helping run the top restaurant in the city! Master Wang should be begging you for a job! I’m hoping everyone will come to their senses next week because Poong’s kitchen just isn’t the same without all of the Hungry Wok family being a part of it.
I love you show, but stop awkwardly trying to create conflict! Especially with the new threat of Dad wanting to please his wife by making sure his daughter isn’t working for Poong. Sae-woo’s father may love his wife, but he seems like too much of a teddy bear. Sae-woo’s got him wrapped around her finger and I’m hoping she convinces Dad that Mom is acting ridiculous and needs to seriously chill, get over the petty hate for Poong, let Seol-ja and Geok-jung work at the hotel while still being a part of the family, and everyone will be happy.
Well, almost everyone. I’m still unsure about Chil-sung’s fate. He just found his mother but now he might be losing to her cancer. No hotel, however Giant, can possibly fill the hole that would leave. Not even one shaped like Ms. Veterinarian (who is trying way too hard to fit into the narrative, but maybe I’m just being overly protective of my favorite squishy gangster-with-a-heart-of-gold). Hopefully, despite having “melo” in the title, there can be a happy ending for everyone. Hey, if Buster can be successfully treated for cancer, then surely Gum Granny can be, too.