Home > Korean Dramas > Gourmet Episode 21, recap

Gourmet Episode 21, recap

Friday, September 5, 2008 Leave a comment Go to comments

Omg. Today the high is 38C. Have been staying inside. Woe.

On the topic of the show, Bong Joo is an ass.

Episode 21

We start off with a replay of what happened in the last episode, which was basically: Doom! Disaster! Food gone bad! Etc.

Bong Joo doesn’t think the bad fermented soybean sauce base that’s being used for all the food necessitates the closing of the restaurant. Um. I’d say it does, but he’s kind of more looking to the commercial side of things and worried that the branch restaurant will suffer. Anyway, Sung Chan bursts in, all ‘I discovered the cause!’ Bong Joo glares at him – if looks could kill, honestly.

Tension abounds. Sung Chan is too buoyed by his success with finding the bad soybeans to do much damage control, and Bong Joo just storms out – well, he does it pretty restrainedly, but the message is there: so you substitute him for me?

Always the cool-headed one in a crisis, Joo Hee runs after him, but Bong Joo’s obviously gotten tired of not being absolute dictator of Un Ahm Jung. He decides to call a shareholder’s meeting, and figure out a way to ‘refine’ the sauce-making process.

Well, there’s not much chef Oh can do about his son’s pissy moods, so he goes to check on the sauces with Sung Chan. The latter tells his father that last year’s soy beans were affected by flooding, but chef Oh doesn’t think that was the only factor – but doesn’t mention it because at the moment it’s just a small part of the overall puzzle. Jang Goo runs up, all panicked, because he’s discovered that not only are the new, year-old sauces weird, the older ones also taste off.

Chef Oh becomes depressed, and mutters to himself about how he’s failed Un Ahm Jung. Sung Chan can’t stand to see him torment himself like this and promises to get to the bottom of this problem, as it’s not the soybean quality that’s an issue.

Sung Chan bumps into his big bro, who is still firmly anchored in his own world. Anyway, Sung Chan tries to reconcile with him, urging him to join in the search for what’s really wrong with the sauces, but Bong Joo totally rips into Sung Chan, telling him that he didn’t want to see his face ever again, that Sung Chan doesn’t need to take care of Un Ahm Jung because he will, etc. (Yeah, and you’ve done a great job too.) Poor Sung Chan doesn’t know what to do with this brother of his but agrees to stay away after Bong Joo promises to solve the problem.

Lol, Jin Soo is in her office, planning out a plan of attack on the next target. Even director Han’s given up, but she’s still working away (and in the process, skipping lunch, which I don’t recommend but certainly shows her reporter qualities and dedication). As she prepares for attack #7, Jin Soo encounters Sung Chan outside the studio. He looks kind of stressed. (No, really?) Aww, it’s like they’re back in high school. She looks away and starts walking. Sung Chan, not knowing what to do, does that adorable head-ducking of his and follows.

He tries to talk to her through the traffic, and in typical Sung Chan fashion, runs across the street with only his hands to ward him away from other cars (who protest at this sudden contravention of traffic laws and good sense). Hee.

Jin Soo calls up a taxi and does her best (which is quite good) impression of a girl who doesn’t give a damn, and drives away. Poor Sung Chan is left on the curb, asking if she’s free for lunch, dinner, or the rest of his foreseeable future.

At the shareholder (aka all the head honchos of Un Ahm Jung) meeting, Joo Hee’s father, director Yoon, forwards the motion that the restaurant should close for the time being. In a fit of stubborness or a last-ditch effort to maintain control, Bong Joo takes responsibility for the sauce incident. Joo Hee looks very worried – I suppose she’s tied herself to Bong Joo, for better or for worse.

Huh. He plans to outsource their sauce-making to a professional sauce company, that has specialized in traditional tastes for 40 years. Chef Oh looks stricken, Joo Hee astonished, and Director Yoon dubious.

Chef Oh interrupts him in appalled tones: What are you doing? Un Ahm Jung doesn’t depend on approval ratings or efficiency. We depend on our values and worth.

Director Joon walks out, slamming doors all the way (partly because his pottery supply may be threatened by BJ’s effort to bring in new people and partly because when he’s not happy with someone, he carries through with it). The cooks and Joo Hee aren’t thrilled about the changes he’s proposing either. Right now, however, Bong Joo is thinking with his business brain, and continues on – the other chairpeople look pretty swayed.

Unaware that the restaurant is going to such upheavals, Jin Soo returns from her foray, all aglow with the success. She’s probably the best investigative reporter Point has (btw, why name a food mag ‘point’ when it could be something more relevant, like… taste buds?). Sung Chan has been camped at the front of her workplace (obviously he’s trying the same tactic as her boss) and jumps up, newspaper in hand. Ahh, young love.

(Dialogue, since I am a shipper of the nerdiest degree.)

SC: Jin Soo, I like you too. I missed you, I think about you, everything reminds me of you. I remember all the times we’ve eaten together and fought. That’s just how it goes. Ah, this is so embarrassing. But you… well I know how you feel, okay? And I honestly don’t know what to do. What can I do to make you less angry? Can’t you just look and see what kind of person I am? (Me: A thoughtless boy?)

Unfortunately for the couple, director Han comes and tries to make friends with Sung Chan, with spectacular failure. However, he does manage to tell Sung Chan that the rumour going around is that Un Ahm Jung is going to switch to getting their sauce supplied. This may be the one act that actually spurs (finally) the descendant of the imperial cooks into action, as he furiously gets into his truck. Jin Soo chases along, no longer aloof, and asks him what he’s going to do. Sung Chan is angry that his brother betrayed his trust and told him to stay away.

However, Jin Soo tells him that he’s being too rash. He can’t do anything to challenge or counter Bong Joo right now, because they still don’t know why the sauces all went off. Sung Chan realizes the wisdom of her words, and turns to the best investigative mind – Jin Soo. She gets in the truck with him and they both drive away, to her boss’s bemusement.

Sung Chan’s first stop is the salt supplier. The place is a latticework of large pools of ocean water, and Jin Soo falls after tripping on a beam. In what I guess is a symbolic/romantic moment, she takes Sung Chan’s hand and gets up. They’re back to hand-hold-land.

There seems to be no problem with the salt. You know, the two have the most fun together when they do manual labour. Both Sung Chan and Jin Soo help out with the salt-gathering process. Hmm. Still nothing wrong. As Sung Chan is shoveling salt into bags, she remarks that it’s really salty. (No, really? It’s salt you’re handling.) Sung Chan tells her that this is the sweetest salt on this side of Asia.

They take a break, because Jin Soo is covered in salt flecks and because it’s hot. Sung Chan takes the opportunity while her eyes are closed to sneak a kiss. Aww! They even have the Disney sparkly music effect!

Naturally, Jin Soo’s kind of shocked. She leaps up and punches Sung Chan around, but we know she secretly likes it and is doing this to keep up the modest facade. Anyway, Sung Chan falls into the piles of salt and realizes, omg, it is really salty.

Back to work, folks. (But I want more frolicking!)

Being the cooking expert that he is, Sung Chan realizes right away that this salt pile hasn’t been rid of bittern, a crystal substance that looks like salt and is produced during salt extraction from brine – it’s also called magnesium chloride.

He and Jin Soo go to see the foreman of the salt ‘mine’, who is in the middle of selling his 5-year-old vintage salt (lol, vintage salt). It has the elusive sweet flavour that Sung Chan’s been looking for, plus the salt runs smoothly through his hands, unlike the salt back at Un Ahm Jung. (I seem to remember a similar incident in Dae Jang Geum – can’t tell you what, because I watched it years ago.)

Speak of picking up a rock only to smash your own foot. Apparently Un Ahm Jung had agreed to be supplied with unrefined salt (this is natural sea salt we’re talking about, don’t worry if you eat the iodine type). The salt maker is selling the premium salt to the 17th granddaughter-in-law of a very venerable tribe.

The said tribe (the yangban Parks?) are holding a sauce tank exchange ceremony and have waited five years for the salt to mature. Wow. That’s dedication for you.

Through a very minor comment of the saltmaker’s on the process of jang-making (jang being the all-purpose sauce we’re talking about here, like in cha jang myeon), Sung Chan realizes that the construction had unsettled the tanks, which made the sauce go weird – everyone blamed it on the salt, but then getting the unrefined type made it worse.

Sung Chan is seriously annoyed. On the way back, Jin Soo asks Sung Chan what Un Ahm Jung means to him.

JS: You’re the owner but you abandon the position, they make mistakes but you take responsibility, you don’t hope for anything from them, but you still spend a lot of time worrying about it… what is it that makes you live that way? I really don’t know why you act so differently from normal people.
SC: It’s the place that raised me, taught me and made me into a cook. Big bro and dad both live there. And I met you there. That is Un Ahm Jung.

Jin Soo looks at Sung Chan as he smiles absently.

I guess what he’s trying to say is that Un Ahm Jung is the place that’s given him the gifts and good things he takes along with him in everyday life, and that it’s something he’d like to preserve as much as possible. At the same time, his way of associating Un Ahm Jung with the people who’ve enriched him, instead of viewing it as property that will make him rich and give him status (like Bong Joo), makes Sung Chan more eligible for ownership. He truly loves it. Bong Joo wants to possess it, and when he does, he abuses it.

So, yeah. I’ll stop being ‘deep’ now.

Joo Hee and her father are having dinner together, where director Yoon vents his frustration. He adds that if Bong Joo wasn’t marrying his daughter (err, that’s rather on the rocks too) he’d never have let this go without a fight. He’s really hurt (or his ego is) by the fact that Bong Joo used director Jang’s platter. Joo Hee tries to calm her dad, which doesn’t work.

Then Bong Joo shows up for lunch, because director Yoon invited him. The sum of all awkwardness, dude. Um. Well, that doesn’t go over well, even after director Yoon’s backed down on his stance and made nice. Bong Joo informs (yes, informs, he’s not so cuddly that he can just tell) director Yoon that the engagement is cancelled, shattering Yoon’s happy bubble and rendering him speechless. Way to go, Bong Joo.

Wow. He goes on to completely alienate Yoon, who throws a napkin at his face. Joo Hee’s still kind of going, “Um, guys, don’t fight” on the side, but very ineffectually. (She needs some Feminism Assertion 101, is what I’m saying.)

Sung Chan drives Jin Soo home in the twilight, and they have this awkward girl-met-boy parting. Aww. Sung Chan defers this by suggesting a quiet party at her apartment. He leaves for (presumably) ingredients, promising to return later. (I hope he returns. I’m tired of romance subplots that rely on misunderstanding.)

At Un Ahm Jung, chef Oh is discovering the salt problem too. Aha. Min Woo is going to get in trouble, as he’s in charge of the salt and sauce-making.

Huh. Joo Hee tries to mend bridges, but Bong Joo is not into getting into any happy things. Since today’s recap is already pretty long, have some more dialogue!

Joo Hee: Do you really want us to end this way?
Bong Joo: Are you still confused? Let me say this again: I liked you for a long time. But now I regret it very much. Those days I spent on you, thinking of you alone, if I could erase them all, I would. I don’t want to talk about this anymore.
Joo Hee: Alright. But let me say something: you can treat me like this (me: no he can’t!), but please don’t do this to anyone else, whether it’s my father or the Chef. I hope that no one will be hurt because of our relationship. Un Ahm Jung is very important to you, but to me it is everything. My life’s goal, dream and hope – it is something to which I’ve given my all. I will not watch as you destroy this place. I will never.

Joo Hee’s fighting back tears. *bashes Bong Joo with the Rock of Awareness*

Bong Joo gets a call from someone, telling him about the salt. Chef Oh has lined up all the cooks, all the better for dramatic effect as Sung Chan barrels down the path, holding two sacks of salt.

Thunderclouds hang over Bong Joo’s head as he tells everyone that it must have been Min Woo’s underling who messed up the orders (the stored salt was used, for one thing). But then Sung Chan mentions the renovation – a wall had collapsed, requiring immediate attention… which messed around with the special layers of soil and salt at the base of the tanks, as well as in the replacement of salt.

Well, chef Oh is good and angry now. Bong Joo has the grace to look sheepish. Okay, now that everyone has a clear idea, they get to work.

Sung Chan stays behind to chat with his bro, who looks like a grade-5 hurricane cloud right about now. As his attempts to talk Bong Joo around get met with absolute hostility, Sung Chan looks like he’s trying to find politer ways of saying this but failing… hey, at least he’s willing to admit his brother is making mistakes.

Sung Chan picks the easy way out and leaves. Again.

OH GOD. WRITERS. YOU ARE DEAD. I WILL CARVE YOUR CORPSES WITH ANATOMICAL ACCURACY, SINCE I’M LEARNING TO DO IT NOW.

Joo Hee faints in the Un Ahm Jung parking lot, with Sung Chan watching, and of course he brings her to the hospital. Jin Soo happily shops for the (abortive) party, and … Sung Chan gets news about the cancelled engagement. (Are they going to play the pregnant card now?)

Jin Soo’s just trying so hard making cake! (And covering herself with frosting, btw.) It looks so pretty and my heart breaks knowing that Sung Chan won’t come. Writers. Will. Die.

But the Sung Chan we know and love doesn’t abandon people he needs – so he stays with her and makes the seaweed soup that she had from his first cooking attempt. It’s cute that she still remembers all the details of the soup.

But Jin Soo! She’s waiting with her cake and happily hugging her cushions.

Joo Hee reassures Sung Chan that he had nothing to do with their breakup, and that she’ll be fine after she finishes eating. She’s trying so hard. She’ll be fine after developing a spine, and maybe she’ll meet a nice guy who doesn’t treat her like property, or maybe she’ll go off and raise her (hypothetical) baby alone… okay, not writing miniseries here, Sevenses, focus.

And Jin Soo ends up, as always, waiting at her doorstep. She’s polishing her cellphone sadly. OMG. Sung Chan actually drives up. Whut. Writers need not die after all.

There is hugging, of the in-public-in-front-of-apartment variety.

On this side of improbability, Min Woo sucks up to a rather drunk Joon, who’s annoyed at Bong Joo, and thus an easy target for conversion. Humph. It’s ironic that Min Woo is talking about Bong Joo wrecking the restaurant, while he’s the one plotting all kind of backstabbing.

Joon, relieved of his duties, has all the time in the world to plot revenge. He is, however, the impulsive type, and only Min Woo’s careful manipulation stops him from stomping over to Un Ahm Jung and demanding his place back. He meets with director Yong, he who really liked Un Ahm Jung’s beef.

Hmm. It looks like Min Woo’s either fooling both men, or he’s got them both on his side. Given that Yong was pretty upright in the other eps, I hope it’s the former.

At night, Min Woo breaks into Un Ahm Jung (um, either security isn’t tight, or he isn’t persona non grata yet – either way, it reflects badly on UAJ’s ability to keep intruders out). He hands a package to his underling, probably filched from Bong Joo’s desk, and tells him to deliver it to a certain person. (And so disaster comes from the inside – UAJ is strong enough to weather random crises, but when its own people fail it, things go wonky. Ah, the wise management of Bong Joo. But Sung Chan isn’t up to taking leadership, still.)

In the morning, Bong Joo oversees the arrival and settlement of shipments of the soy products. This distresses chef Oh (and the other cooks), who want Un Ahm Jung to be making their own sauces.

Chef Oh tells his son that he needs to follow in his father’s steps (his real words are somewhat like, don’t throw your father away), and Bong Joo shocks all eavesdroppers and his father by telling him that the day chef Oh decided to close Un Ahm Jung, he had already decided to do things his own way. This breaks chef Oh’s heart, and he raises a hand to Bong Joo, who he’s probably never beaten in his life.

Dude. The old man just staggers away between the trucks. He looks like he’s having a hard time breathing.

Director Han is holding a meeting… and is distressed because Japanese restaurants are serving Korean foods? Oh. He and the rest of the staff are appalled because Korean food is popular but unrecognized. By whom? The smartest population on the planet: the Americans.

(Dude, small restaurants have to expand their menus to compete, and I don’t think that spring rolls/sushi served in the local Seoul BBQ are Korean. Exaggeration much? If people are dumb enough to believe kalbi is Japanese, then they probably believe that Elvis was kidnapped by aliens. And do you really want to be basing consumer awareness on people like that? Misplaced nationalism – territory disputes I can understand, idiocy I do not.)

So anyway, Han sends his investigative team after the guy who founded the successful chain Japanese stores, in the hopes that one of them can find out why he’s in Korea. (Surely it’s not to steal more Korean food? Or is he, horror of horrors, working with Bong Joo?)

(Probably this does strike a vibe with Koreans, as a group of people who’ve lived between three rather powerful neighbours and managed to survive and maintain individuality through all the power fluctuations. They’re proud of their culture, and rightly so, but sometimes hysteria does more to damage than it does to educate.

Sorry I’m writing all these essays – but this episode does bring in some issues that have been bothering me since I’ve started watching dramas, namely the maligning. I’m not too hot on what Japan did in the war either, but is that a reason to carry it over and demonise the Japanese now? Or China, but I’m not too objective on that subject.)

Jin Soo gets the assignment. He stakes out in the hotel, and spots an arrogant man with entourage making his way down the escalator. Um. So she hides in the potted plants nearby? Oh Jin Soo, she’s so cute. πŸ˜€

Hah. The dude who came to eat and called on Min Woo, who also later asked chef Oh to recover Un Ahm Jung’s flavour? He’s working Big Bad Japanese Restaurant Owner.

Jin Soo’s really not subtle at all. And then she spots Min Woo, Yoon and Yong walking around the lobby, not at all bothered about Un Ahm Jung’s current troubles. They gleefully anticipate the explosion when the tax department will visit and thus kill off the restaurant.

Also, secret documents ftw.

Wow, how many cars do they need for four people? Global warming, anyone?

And Bong Joo gets arrested for tax evasion. Whut?

They search his office, in a rather more chaotic way than I expected from tax auditors.

Hoo boy. Japanese restaurant person and his posse want to buy out the restaurant – so that they control 100% of the stock, and then expanding it. Yoon and Min Woo look uncomfortable, and more so when the Japanese sidekick explains that they have already taken steps to assure that Bong Joo stays out of the restaurant. So now Sung Chan can step in with his claim to heirship, yah?

Just from the cars, the tax people look terribly corrupt. And the branches have had their fish licenses revoked.

Sung Chan is happily selling things to ajummas. They all want to marry him off to their daughters – and then Jin Soo comes up, popsicles in hand.

The Japanese dude has probably been eying Un Ahm Jung for a while now – and Yoon hands the restaurant over to him. Min Woo has reservations, but he’s not going to voice them, being in way over his head.

Chef Oh comes in the offices to see the mess, and falls to the ground, from a combination of factors, that certainly include stress and disappointment.

Sung Chan and Jin Soo are still happily eating popsicles. Sung Chan is back to his uncaring attitude – he’s just unhappy that Un Ahm Jung is losing its flavour. He gets a call from Joo Hee, and rushes off right away.

Chef Oh looks kind of purple, which is never a good thing. He wakes up, and turns this purple gray. Um. Stay in bed or go to hospital, please? Chef Oh reiterates that he cannot leave like this, that he will never be able to face the imperial cook and his descendants if he leave Un Ahm Jung in this state. Joo Hee cries. Sung Chan chooses this moment to run in.

The guy’s not blind. He can tell his father looks particularly unwell, and he trades glances with Joo Hee, each confirming the other’s worst thoughts.

The old man is pretending to be hearty and hale.

Sung Chan goes to the empty offices, and sighs in frustration. Voiceover of Joo Hee telling him about tax audits on the branches and the cancellation of various licenses that allow them to serve raw fish.

End episode.

Commentary/Rambling:

– Well, now it’s Sung Chan vs. world. Plus, he’s taking up cooking again. This can only be good.

– In his current state of mind, Bong Joo can only abuse the power that’s been given to him. Unfortunately.

– For all of you who live in hurricane valley, take care and be safe!! (That goes for the tornado alley and earthquake zone people too. What the heck, I love you all. Be safe, drink plenty of water if you’re in southern Quebec, and get out your skis if you’re in Calgary. )

– Oh god, first week of uni has been brutal. I’m heading off to bed.

Sevenses

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  1. Friday, September 5, 2008 at 12:56 pm

    did you honestly write this, well publish it at 5 in the morning? O.o or did my poor time zone knowledge throw me off in the calculation?

    ps: 200 pages is not bad. (if that’s consoling at all) imagine 200 pages for every single subject. so that’s 1,000 pages plus essays. πŸ˜€

    pps: sleep well. πŸ™‚

  2. jonni
    Friday, September 5, 2008 at 1:13 pm

    Hey there Sevenses

    How you doin?Thanks for all your brilliant recaps. πŸ™‚

    ”I WILL CARVE YOUR CORPSES WITH ANATOMICAL ACCURACY, SINCE I’M LEARNING TO DO IT NOW.”…..you studyin to be a M.D.?

    Cheers

  3. sevenses
    Friday, September 5, 2008 at 1:52 pm

    irugnotmis – Um, time between Cali and here is about 3 hours? I published this at 9 in the morning, though I did write this at 2am … Lol, thanks. The 200 pages was just for two days, actually. I have to read about 600~ per week. Thank god I only have bio and physiology as science courses, or I really would die. Don’t know how the people doing physical/analytical chem plus these two classes are surviving. (Yay for arts? But I have to write essays in a week! Nooo.)

    Jonii – ah, not yet, there’s anatomy labs and stuff.

    Thanks for commenting!

  4. Friday, September 5, 2008 at 1:56 pm

    i kept thinking i minus 2 (cuz of daylight saving time) instead of plus 2 lol my bad.

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