Today, I will be reviewing Let’s Eat, which I found so delightful. I got so obsessed with Let’s Eat that I finished this show in a week, despite being super busy with work. I’ve been sleeping less just so I can watch JUST. ONE. MORE. EPISODE. And now that time has passed since I finished it, I find that the more that I think about it, the more I love it? I wanna relieve it and rewatch it and when I go back to Seoul, I wanna visit the places they ate at. Now, I’m gonna profess my love for this show so I might get all fangirl-y in here. You’ve been warned!
The primary reason I started watching Let’s Eat was that I couldn’t let the jerk that is Su-ho of Radio Romance be the first full drama role of Doo-joon’s that I have seen. I’ve only watched Doo-joon in Splish Splash Love before and I loved him in it. In fact, I’ve been fond of Doo-joon ever since he debuted as an idol. So I thought I needed to watch Let’s Eat first, see him in a role I’ll like him in, before diving into Radio Romance as I don’t want that jerk of a role to give me ill feelings or memories about Doo-joon whenever I think of my first miniseries of him. ANYWAY, I read some reviews of Let’s Eat, just to set my expectations straight, since I heard it’s a bit experimental in format in that, it’s part mukbang (videos of people eating deliciously) with all the gratuitous shots of food feeling like a commercial.
And the reviews were right. It is indeed part mukbang. But what the reviews didn’t say is that I will fall in love with this show and its characters so much throughout its run and even long after it.
By no means is Let’s Eat a perfect drama. In fact, I know all about its flaws and am not blind to them. Let’s Eat is short on plot, in fact, it feels more like a slice-of-life drama centered around three neighbors: Soo-kyung (Lee Soo-kyung), Dae-young (Yoon Doo-joon), and Jin-yi (Yoon So-hee). Not that there’s anything wrong with slice-of-life shows, I adore those. Just that, if you’re looking for a plot-driven drama, then Let’s Eat wouldn’t be your jam. The only sense of overarching arc the show has is this mystery person who’s loitering around their building and is attacking women in the neighborhood. With the overarching aspect not even achieved that much because this arc is primarily sitting in the backseat, relegated to being shown in epilogues, probably to up the ante but in general, failing to do so. It just feels like they tack in this subplot to the end of an episode to remind the audience that it’s there, although barely. So that bit isn’t that interesting.
You know what’s interesting? THE CHARACTERS. Oh my, I love the characters so much. They all feel so lived in, as if they’re indeed people I might be neighbors with. We have Soo-kyung, a divorcee, who loves to eat out but can’t eat alone. Dae-young is a glib, honey-tongued insurance agent, who’s also the blogger behind Soo-kyung’s favorite food blog. Jin-yi is a kind but naive ex-rich twenty-something who moves into the room next to Soo-kyung (who lives next to Dae-young) after her father goes to prison for an embezzlement accusation. We also have Soo-kyung’s law firm colleagues and her housewife best friend Kyung-mi (who’s the wife of one of the law firm colleagues, Mr. Choi) as secondary characters and they’re as colorful and interesting as our main characters.
What made Let’s Eat so addictive for me were the characters and their relationships with each other. Each character felt human, even the secondary characters who I thought would only be there as comedic fodder or just other people to film while they eat deliciously. I just love them all. The characters are not perfect and there is even an episode where I just felt so disappointed and disapproving of Soo-kyung. But she learns and she grows and that’s what matters. She finds it in her to learn to trust people again and makes new friends, and even opens her heart to love. If we’re talking about growth, Jin-yi makes leaps and bounds ever since living alone and meeting Soo-kyung and Dae-young too. She learns how to be wise with her money and she becomes less naive and more practical, without losing her trademark kindness and effervescence. She just matures into this independent and dependable young woman. She can still be immature at times, but we all have our moments, young or old.
In fact, I like how the females in this drama are portrayed. Soo-kyung’s best friend Kyung-mi is a housewife and there are discussions about how hard it is to be one. And how being a housewife is a full-time job. Just because her husband Mr. Choi is the breadwinner, it doesn’t mean that she’s not pulling her weight and isn’t as stressed (or even more) than her husband. She takes care of their kids and his parents, as well as budget everything. I also appreciated that they showed her taking breaks, sometimes going to Soo-kyung’s to nap, because we sometimes take our parents for granted. They’re also humans and they also need time for themselves. An unhealthy relationship with food is also tackled through another character, Atty. Oh, a female lawyer who works in the law firm Soo-kyung works at. She’s always on a diet and not eating but in the end, we learn that she was once fat and she made herself lose weight in order to get boys to notice her. But even after losing weight and shunning food, she doesn’t end up bringing the boys in the yard, so she throws away dieting to the wind and now she eats what she wants. I’m not saying everyone should not diet, but I appreciated that there’s a bit of a lesson infused in that, we should not make ourselves miserable just to look a certain way because we think people will like us then.
Acting-wise, Lee Soo-kyung was good, as expected of her. I could feel her frustration every time she chomped on a chocolate bar. Hehe. I could feel whatever emotion she was portraying and I felt so invested in her, along with her quirks and foibles. I wanted more from Yoon So-hee but she was generally effective as the kind and cute dongsaeng to everyone so I wasn’t really put off or disappointed with her. If the role needed more from her, then that might have been tricky, but as it is, she was okay. Doo-joon was on point with his portrayal of Dae-young. He infuses such charisma to Dae-young that I can totally believe that he’s really a top insurance agent. That boy is persuasive and charming as heck. I think it was all Doo-joon’s doing too, and not the script’s. The script was pretty straightforward and he could have come across as a regular insurance agent. But he’s warm too and teasing and fun, especially to Soo-kyung. He has this mischievous boy charm that is so irresistible, which explains why three ladies end up liking him. Haha! His face is sooooo darn expressive, I’m at awe most times. And then I go fangirl about his handsome face next. Hahaha! And Bara-ssi, the dog, is such a great actor too! Hahaha. I commend the director for getting all those “reaction shots” of the dog because he really feels like he’s part of the cast!
Plot-wise, I knew that Let’s Eat features a romance but it took so long to get there that I even doubted for a second that there’ll be a romantic subplot. WHAT A GLORIOUS SLOW BURN ROMANCE THIS IS. Soo-kyung is suspicious of Dae-young for the longest time. She simply does not like him. Dae-young is nice but teasing to her and then eventually she thaws for him when she discovers that he’s her favorite foodie blogger. And she realizes that he’s actually nice. Then they start to like each other and get jealous when they think the other person likes someone else. But! They are mature thirty-something year-olds and they don’t devolve into being petty. Which is something I love with this show because these people feel real and they act their age too! They’re VERY cute together, so so cute. Just look at the still above! And when they learned that they like each other, they just decide to go for it and date. Plain and simple. It might not be the romanticism you seek for in your kdramas as there’s no grand gesture or grand confession, but oh lord, it is so perfect for my low-key, can-happen-in-real-life loving heart. The romance doesn’t take a whole lot of the drama pie, and I’m all sorts of feeling like I was cheated out of romance because I NEED MORE, but at the same time, I’m happy with what we’ve been given too. BUT I STILL NEED MORE CUTE. Because I’m a romance monster who can’t be sated. HAHAHA
I also adored that we don’t have the usual second leads in here who plot the demise of our couple. We have Jin-yi who likes Dae-young, and even though she tried pushing herself onto him, she still accepted that Dae-young likes someone else. I also LOVE how Soo-kyung and Jin-yi kept their friendship intact (and Jin-yi and Dae-young too, he’s such a great un-romantic oppa to her) even when Soo-kyung and Dae-young got together. Attagirls! We don’t let boys wreck friendships in this camp!
We also have Atty. Kim, who’s a dork before and has been in love with Soo-kyung for a decade now. He’s mean to Soo-kyung to exact revenge on her after she doesn’t return his affection from before, but realizes that that’s just him still in love with her. I love how he tried wooing her and when she says that she likes someone else, he backs down and respects her decision too. EVERYONE IN THIS DRAMA IS MATURE AND I LOVE IT. It’s just so refreshing to not have second leads who more or less move the skies and seas just to keep the main couple apart.
And is it weird of me that I actually enjoyed the food porn? I even got inspired to cook the mackerel stew and bibimguksu because of this show! I’ll blog about that for another day. I’m going to Seoul this May and I’m pumped to eat food they’ve featured in the show, hopefully in the same restaurant. That’s how obsessed I am. Hahaha! THE FOOD PORN IS SO LEGIT and so yummy-looking, I wanted to eat EVERYTHING. I catch myself salivating, actually salivating, when they showed some dishes.
Overall, Let’s Eat is going to go down as one of the dramas I would love to rewatch. I just felt comforted by the show while I was watching it, maybe because they treat food as such, bringing comfort too. And of course, I would love to see the romance again. Those moments when they don’t realize they already like each other are the best. I’m smiling just thinking about it. Basically, I love LOVE LOVE the romance so much that I’m getting a bit stressed thinking about Let’s Eat 2 because I really adore and love the first season and it’s gonna be weird seeing Dae-young with a new girl. So I’m taking a break before I see the second season although I’m yearning for some more food porn.
Let’s Eat was a delightful and breezy watch, and one that I’ll go back to again. And again. Gu Dae-young has my heart. And I already miss the torturous display of delicious food, which is surprising. So gratuitous, so overindulgent. My mouth is already watering thinking of Korean cuisine. Seriously, if you raided my fridge, you’d think I’m part Korean. HAHAHA