Cooking Crush 1×01 Review: “Dish 1 – Tom Kha Gai Brings You to Me”

Cooking Crush is finally here! With each episode seemingly centering on a specific dish, it is obviously going to be a show that I shouldn’t watch when hungry, which will be a feat considering it airs at 8:30 am EDT. In “Tom Kha Gai Brings You to Me”, we meet our main characters – culinary student Prem (Gun Atthaphan) and medical student Ten (Off Jumpol) – and establish the tone of the show.

I have been looking forward to this show for months, ever since I watched Not Me and fell in love with OffGun. This is their fourth time as a main pairing (Not Me, Theory of Love, and Puppy Honey) and I don’t want to spend the entire post comparing their previous roles. But it’s hard not to. I’m excited to see them back in a romcom, although Not Me owns my soul so I hope they can do another dramatic series at some point.

It would also be nice if they played, you know, adults. These men are in their thirties, please have them play thirty-year-olds. I don’t care how young they look. (Although seriously, can I please learn Gun’s skincare routine? The man does not age.)

Off’s previous roles (Pick in Puppy Honey, Khai in Theory of Love) started off as huge jerks so I really hope that Ten is not. And I love seeing a Gun character who isn’t immediately smitten. I’m hoping that means we’ll see a different kind of dynamic between the pair. We also have something similar to Not Me where there are major class differences between the two of them (Ten’s father is even played by the same actor who played White’s father), which will surely cause issues later.

Speaking of Not Me, I saw that little Easter egg, don’t think I didn’t. (If you missed it, when Prem was getting ready for his shower at the beginning of the episode, one of Black’s figurines was in the wardrobe.)

So I’m not at all worried about the chemistry between Ten and Prem. I’ll admit that I wasn’t expecting them to have so many meet-cutes before we got to the scene with a zombie-like Ten basically hugging Prem for his soup that was in the trailer. (Also, I cackled at the bit with Ten literally following the smell; it was like a cartoon.) Ten thinking that Prem wanted a sniff-kiss when he wanted the onion was hilarious. Of course, Ten accidentally kicks a soccer ball at Prem and knocks him unconscious. And the boy that little!Prem serves in the flashback is a young Ten, correct?

Ten’s relationship with his father is likely going to be an ongoing thing. Ten is willing to skip meals so as to not be around his father, and is stubborn enough to not even eat at school because of, what, spite? Hopefully, we learn what’s going on there soon. Right now even speculating is just throwing darts at random, but I’d wager that Ten’s father did something recently that has soured their relationship.

There’s plenty of drama in Prem’s life that is probably going to stick around, too. We’re told right off the bat that money is an issue for his family – he’s worried about being able to afford his tuition, one of his classmates mocks him with the fact that their restaurant is struggling. We know from the trailer that he’ll eventually charge Ten 50,000 baht (about $1400) per cooking lesson. Money is going to be a big issue, especially given their difference in status.

I also was not expecting Ten’s obsession with wanting to learn how to cook was because of a woman. (I was kind of hoping that he was, like, immediately into Prem and just wanted to be around him.) Who is she? What is she to Ten?

I’m digging the dynamic between Prem and his friends – Dynamite and Samsi (Unky). They’re clearly meant to be the clods of the culinary department, but they have a genuine passion for cooking and there’s a lot of affection in their interactions. In “Tom Kha Gai Brings You to Me”, their professor emphasizes that the three of them need to learn to function as a team, so I imagine that will probably be an important plot point. Granted the reason they were floundering is because Prem was knocked unconscious while running to get an ingredient. Still, I feel like that’s going to be an important aspect. Prem has admitted that they are the least skilled in their class.

As for the B pairing of Dynamite and Ten’s friend Fire, I am a little squicked out by the fact that the actor who plays Dynamite (Aungpao Ochiris) is only 17 to Neo’s 22. The age difference isn’t too huge but it’s a little off-putting. I know that there was a recast in there (Dynamite was played by Mark Pakin in the pilot trailer), so I will try to focus on the acting. And, honestly? These two slay.

I am excited to see Neo in a more comedic role. The two roles I’ve seen him in previously (Boston in Only Friends, Khan in The Eclipse) were much more dramatic, but he has really good comedic timing. I loved his insult-laden rant when he learned that Dynamite had given him his own number instead of the girl he was crushing on. And I love Dynamite’s confidence when approaching Fire, even as he hides behind his friends.

The overall vibe of the series looks like it’s going to be primarily goofy and fun. Ten taking a bite of Prem’s soup and imagining himself in a coconut milk bath reminded me of Shokugeki no Soma with its ridiculous foodgasm moments. Likewise, Ten being in “safe mode” complete with robot noises. A lot of Asian dramas utilize sound effects almost to their detriment, but in a show like this, with the graphics and the dream sequences, I think they work.

And the scene where the shuttle breaks down and all the male students need to help push it, but Ten is the only guy? I could not stop laughing. All of the girls cheering him on as he struggled to push it even a little bit? That’s funny, I don’t care.

All cards on the table, I absolutely loved the credit sequence. It is so much fun, with the characters dancing. Off’s body roll at the beginning is my new Roman Empire.

“Tom Kha Gai Brings You to Me” is good for a first episode. I love how cute and fun this series looks like it’s going to be, and I’m really hoping for a new dynamic between Off and Gun.

Cooking Crush will air Sundays on the GMMTV official YouTube channel.

Author: Jamie Sugah

Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.


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