Cooking Crush 1×04 Review: “Why’s This Salted Egg Spicy Salad So Sweet”

Cooking Crush continues to be a delight. It’s so fluffy I want to die. “Why’s This Salted Egg Spicy Salad So Sweet” showcases the undeniable chemistry of Off and Gun as Ten and Prem adorkably flirt their way through every interaction. (Only to second guess themselves immediately, and then eventually devolve into a puddle of goo.)

“Why’s This Salted Egg Spicy Salad So Sweet” picks up where last week’s episode left off (which I did not review because, again, Texas), with Ten picking up Prem for their not-date. Because this is a ridiculous romcom, Ten pictures sparkles around Prem’s head as he approaches. (This is completely relatable as I also see sparkles around Gun’s head whenever he appears.) After comically trying to avoid accidentally touching Ten last week (until Ten undid all his efforts), Prem thrusts himself into Ten’s personal space. Ten is naturally flustered, cue the cuteness overload.

This scene is the perfect example of how much Ten is opening up to Prem. He told him last week that he didn’t need to go through such efforts, so this week Prem is much more casual with Ten’s personal space. There’s also a scene later in the episode where Prem and his sister spot Ten at the market, which he could barely stand just two episodes ago, and it turns out that Ten was buying the ingredients for another cooking lesson.

Prem takes Ten to One Good Meal and reveals that his dream is to open a similar restaurant. It definitely is a unique experience, with the chef – Prem’s idol, Chang Ma, from his and his friend’s favorite cooking show – personally serving them and explaining the dishes. Prem cannot resist gushing to Chang Ma that he is a fan, and as the night goes on, Ten gets more and more jealous. This results in Ten taking Prem to another restaurant, despite the fact that they literally just ate.

I love this dynamic between Off and Gun, because it’s very different from the other pairs they’ve portrayed. This isn’t their first romcom, but in Puppy Honey Off’s character Pick was either deeply closeted or just in denial about his own sexuality, and in Theory of Love, his character Khai is a huge jerk. And in both of those series, Gun’s characters (Rome in Puppy Honey, Third in Theory of Love) were helplessly, kind of pathetically in love with Off’s characters.

So anyway, I’m really enjoying seeing the two of them like this: both equally smitten and lowkey confused about it, backtracking when they think they’ve made a mistake, and trying not to read too much into every little thing they do. (Prem freaking out about his text when Ten didn’t immediately respond, and it turns out Ten saw the text before he recalled it. And then Ten eating the food Prem claims he didn’t make specifically for him despite having already eaten breakfast.) I love that Off’s character is the one who fell first. Every scene between these two is just super cute.

What I really love is the symmetry. In last week’s episode, Ten attributes his racing heart to having played tennis earlier in the day. In “Why’s This Salted Egg Spicy Salad So Sweet”, Prem starts seeing Ten everywhere (even as a pregnant woman, I cackled so hard) and panics, and when Ten finds him he immediately checks his pulse. Last week, Ten grabbed Prem’s hands and put them over his ears because earlobes absorb heat. This week, Prem grabs Ten’s face on his own because he’s trying to determine if he’s another hallucination.

Another great thing about this episode is that Ten and Prem are having conversations! It isn’t them just immediately falling in love and moving at the speed of light. Prem tells Ten all about his desire to open up a chef’s table restaurant; Ten talks about coming to the rice place with his uncle. Ten also admits that he really didn’t have anything outside of his studies, and that Prem’s cooking lessons have injected a little bit of sunshine in his life.

Here I’d like to interject that I’m incredibly annoyed at GMMTV for not putting the uncut episode up on YouTube, the way they do for their other shows. I’ve been able to track down the full episode every week, but there is so much they’re cutting out. It’s kind of ridiculous, and I think it’s one of the reasons that the pacing has seemed off and some relationships (Dynamite and Fire, for example) seemed underdeveloped. So now I’m going to wait until after I’ve seen the uncut version to do these reviews.

Oh, hey, speaking of Dynamite and Fire, I finally got my wish from episode 2, where I hoped that Dynamite would do something “not obnoxious and stalker-y” for Fire. In “Why’s This Salted Egg Spicy Salad So Sweet”, he intervenes with Fire’s mother, who is not only overbearing but highly judgmental. 

That whole scene was just uncomfortable. Fire’s mother aggressively lectures not only her own son, but also Jane and then later Dynamite once he tries to deescalate the situation. While I’m a little struck by how quickly Jane decided she wasn’t into Fire (it had to happen, of course, it just seems very abrupt), she’s undoubtedly realizing that she dodged a bullet after his mother basically insulted everything about her and Fire just stood there and let her. (Is she maybe picking up that he doesn’t seem that into her? He couldn’t even approach her for her number on his own, after all.)

What this scene does is show how Dynamite can actually help Fire. In almost all of their interactions so far, Dynamite has been trampling all over Fire’s boundaries (which he sort of apologizes for but, really, still not cool). He’s been engaging in the traditional romcom behavior that most audiences now recognize as stalking, which was played as romantic for decades. He even acknowledges that it’s stalking.

Anyway, my point is, Fire is obviously too downtrodden to really stand up to his mother. Dynamite is able to step in and help because he’s used to being scolded and it doesn’t bother him. Finally, his boundary-stomping has a purpose! I think these two actually are quite suited for each other, and I believe eventually Dynamite will help Fire become more assertive. I just need Dynamite to become at least 30% less obnoxious whenever they’re together. The scene where Fire thanks him by giving him a drink? Have more of those, please.

One last thing, I love the two different friend groups. Everyone is so supportive of each other. I love how Prem, Samsi, and Dynamite get together every week to watch their cooking show and even having matching t-shirts. And I’m really intrigued by the fact that Dynamite seems to be correctly guessing Ten’s motivations (he pings Ten being jealous of Chang Ma, and also accurately judges that Prem made Ten flustered last week) while being so unhinged with regards to his own love life.

So, yes, I am very much enjoying Cooking Crush. There are still some things we don’t know – Ten’s mystery woman hasn’t been mentioned for a while – and I want to punch the culinary school bullies basically every time they’re on screen. But on the whole, this series is sweet and filling, and I’m happy with my weekly dose of serotonin.

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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