Cooking Crush 1×05 Review: “I’d Like to Make Deep-Fried Shrimp Cakes with You, Chef”

Emotional whiplash is the name of the game in “I’d Like to Make Deep-Fried Shrimp Cakes with You, Chef”, which bounces from sad to sweet to something else multiple times.

“I’d Like to Make Deep-Fried Shrimp Cakes with You, Chef” utilizes the staple of showing a previous scene, this time with more context, as we see that despite what it looked like in last week’s episode, Prem actually did follow Ten into the market. It’s nice to remember that Prem also can get jealous over Ten, after Ten adorably pouted his way through their not-date because Prem couldn’t stop fawning over the chef.

We also have gotten our answer to the identity of Ten’s mystery woman, and it is indeed his deceased mother. I thought she might be dead, but given that Ten has been shown messaging her, I wasn’t entirely certain. This also explains his strained relationship with his father, whom he blames for her death.

However, I actually don’t think it really explains their relationship. We don’t know how old these characters are; I don’t know if med school in Thailand works like it does in the US, where you have to have an undergraduate degree first, or if you can just jump into your studies. But Ten is in his third year, so he is at least 21 years old, which means it’s been at least six years since his mother died. Is he still so mad at his father that he refuses to eat at the same table?

I’m wondering if there are other factors at play here. Yes, Ten blames his father for not realizing his mother was sick sooner, and for always working and never having time for them. But there is also the new wife (?) to consider. And I still think that something must have happened recently. (Then again, it is Ten’s mother’s birthday and we can assume that his father didn’t acknowledge it. And working too much is still a problem for him.)

“I’d Like to Make Deep-Fried Shrimp Cakes with You, Chef” made me dislike Ten’s father even more. I’m not too fond of his stepmother (?) either. We’ll start with his dad, though, since we’re already on the subject. If his father is so concerned about Ten getting scammed, why wouldn’t he speak to his son about it? I’ll tell you why – because Ten doesn’t listen to his father, so telling Prem to stay away from Ten is just another way of controlling his son. And don’t think I didn’t catch that little dig about cooking being a “hobby” when it’s basically Prem’s entire reason for being.

Plus, his father’s entire rationale is that for what Prem’s charging, he should be teaching Ten complicated or foreign dishes, when Ten doesn’t like that kind of food. Despite claiming to be willing to eat anything, he’s been shown to be ridiculously picky. Prem is letting Ten decide which dishes he wants to learn, which I think is actually a good move. If I were to take cooking lessons, I wouldn’t want to learn something fancy; I’d want to learn something that I can make all the time.

Now, for Ten’s stepmother. He admits that the main reason that he doesn’t like being touched is because of her, that she’s too invasive. (He also backtracks and dismisses his feelings, which makes me wonder how often that happens.) And from the few scenes we’ve seen, she seems to be way too involved in his life and unable to read the room. The fact that she just hangs around and watches Ten’s cooking lesson? Rude.

I’m trying to figure out if Prem thought Ten’s issue was that she’s too flirty with him, and so he resolved to show her that Ten was taken, because otherwise, I cannot figure out what his plan was. Prem acted super couple-y with Ten the entire time – tying his apron, having him taste the sauce off his hand, helping him drink – and it did make Ten’s stepmother leave (eventually). But as much as I loved the cuteness of those scenes (and how Ten just casually rolled with it, even the licking of Prem’s hand), I’m still scratching my head as to the point.

And honestly, Ten’s stepmother thinking that they were together makes me even angrier that her first thought, upon learning how much Ten was spending on the lessons, was to assume that Prem was trying to scam him. I guess it never occurred to either of Ten’s parents that he fully knows he’s being overcharged and is trying to help out a friend.

Cooking Crush is giving me exactly what I want right now in my life, which is complete green flags Ten and Prem being super adorable. I think Ten was able to sense that something was wrong with Prem over the phone, which is why he ran to his house to get a picture of him. What a Romeo & Juliet moment. And then him showing it to the picture of his mom? That was just the best.

I’m a big fan of their confidence in the other’s ability and the way they hype each other up. Ten mentions that he doesn’t think he has what it takes to make it as a doctor, and Prem reassures him. Prem doesn’t know much about Ten’s studies, but he does know that Ten is kind and quick at picking things up. And Ten’s complete love for Prem’s cooking is what finally convinces Prem to sign up for Super Monster Chef.

Look, we have to talk about the kiss. Obviously. It wasn’t quite Puppy Honey levels of awful (the first time their characters kissed in that show, I swear their lips didn’t even touch), but I was expecting more from Off and Gun, who I know can do better. Therefore I’m choosing to believe that the lack of lip movement was an intentional directorial choice. Ten and Prem are both very shy and awkward, so it’s not completely out of character to kiss like people who don’t know what they’re doing.

I have to say, I love that Prem is the one who went for it. Ten was moving, too, but only after he saw that Prem was going in for a kiss. And Prem up on his tiptoes! I also liked the focus on Prem’s hands, and how he was playing with his shirt, as though forcing himself not to grab Ten, who remember doesn’t really like to be touched. (Also Gun never really moves his arms, but we’ll ignore that.) Also, one of the best things about OffGun kisses… the height difference.

I am kind of side-eyeing the massive time jump. We can tell from the promo for the next episode that we will get to see the date, it just seems very weird to me that they skipped not only the entire date in this episode, but also Prem asking Ten out at all. Couple that with the scenes they keep choosing to cut and it makes the pacing very off.

So I thought that the whole thing with Ten’s father would be later in the series, which means I think the potential love triangle is going to be a bigger issue. Prem clearly admires Chang Ma from a professional standpoint, but “I’d Like to Make Deep-Fried Shrimp Cakes with You, Chef” makes it pretty obvious that Chang Ma has some kind of feelings for Prem, too. Prem is the only student whose name he remembers, he is very impressed with Prem’s cooking priorities, and later he gives Prem extra attention that he presumably didn’t give to the other students. And this is the second week in a row that Ten is jealous of Prem and Chang Ma.

There was a lot going on with Ten and Prem this week, so we didn’t get much between Dynamite and Fire, and for once I’m actually kind of disappointed with that. I love that Metha is the kind of supportive friend who takes someone questioning their sexuality to buy a sex worker, but I wish we’d gotten even a small scene indicating that Fire was struggling. In the scenes we’ve seen of him before, I interpreted it more as him realizing Dynamite isn’t so bad than him thinking he might now like guys. That might be on me, though. Still, I think a short scene earlier in the episode would have helped ease into that moment.

I also was not expecting such a passionate defense of legalizing sex work in a comedy about cooking but four for you, Cooking Crush.

We’re getting to the point of the series when we’re almost flying blind. Most of the scenes in the trailer were in the first five episodes, so pretty soon we’ll be in uncharted territory. I do know that the issue with Ten’s father isn’t going away. But honestly, I’m just so excited to see what happened on Ten and Prem’s date.

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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