Cooking Crush 1×07 Review: “Shredded Pork & Sticky Rice – Waiting for Your Return”

“Shredded Pork & Sticky Rice – Waiting for Your Return” was probably the fluffiest and the angstiest episode of Cooking Crush so far. It was an emotional rollercoaster for Ten and Prem, for Fire and Dynamite, and to a lesser extent, for Fire and Jane. Chang Ma has thrown his hat in the ring to win Prem’s affections, and Ten’s father continues to be the absolute worst.

This week we’re going to start with Fire and Dynamite, because I have a lot of feels about Ten and Prem, and once I start talking about them, I won’t stop. I’m still so confused as to why Jane and Fire got back together. I thought they might have a scene explaining it in the uncut version of last week’s episode, but they didn’t. They’re just inexplicably dating again. It makes no sense, especially given what we learn in this week’s episode – that Jane has started dating someone else.

I just can’t understand why Jane would start dating Fire again. Not only did she start becoming interested in someone else after they broke it off, she was the one who ended the relationship in the first place! There was literally no reason for them to be dating again, other than the fact that Fire wasn’t ready to be with Dynamite yet. This is something they could have dealt with without putting Jane back with Fire. (Although, plus 10 points for the sapphic rep.)

The latest split with Jane drives Fire to drink, and he ends up at a 24-hour café drowning his sorrows in liquor he smuggled inside in a thermos. (By the way, everyone was so confused about where the hell he was; I only recognized it because it has the exact same staircase as the café Ten and Prem were at earlier in the ep.) Still confused and struggling with his sexuality, Fire first calls Ten, then Metha, and when they don’t pick up, he accidentally voice dials Dynamite.

Dynamite has the patience of a saint in “Shredded Pork & Sticky Rice – Waiting for Your Return”. His personality annoyed me in the first couple of episodes, but this boy has really grown on me. And even though he had vowed to stay away from Fire – because he thought that’s what Fire wanted – he still came. And he took care of his drunk ass all night, which included making sure he didn’t pee in public and cleaning his clothing after he got sick all over himself.

I really have to hand it to Aungpao (Dynamite). This is his first role, and he is managing to hold his own among veterans like Off, Gun, and Neo. The way his voice broke when he told Fire not to kiss him was fantastic, as was the look on his face when Fire derided him the next morning.

Chang Ma has made his intentions known. When helping Prem shop for the ingredients for their audition video, he does some very awkward flirting before confessing that he would like to date Prem. Prem has no idea how to handle this information and deals with it by a) being adorably confused and b) ignoring it until it goes away. He did, after all, just kiss Ten the night before.

Also, can I just say that I loved how petty Ten was being during Chang Ma’s “lecture” at the grocery store. It’s not like he was imparting hard-won wisdom. Prem has, presumably, cooked pasta before. Plus, it’s hard not to blame the guy. He wanted to define the relationship with his crush and instead he has to deal with this dude.

More importantly, Prem and Ten have something like a five-minute sequence of them making out in various locations. I loved this part for a variety of very shallow reasons (Prem on Ten’s lap, I DIE), but I also love it for some narrative ones.

For starters, it’s nice to see actual kissing, not the freeze-frame, spin-the-bottle kiss we got at the end of episode 5. (Though we still got a few of those.) Second, I like seeing a newly-established couple who can’t keep their hands off each other. Cooking Crush isn’t as spicy as something like Only Friends or KinnPorsche, and on shows like this the kisses tend to be brief and the couples mainly hold hands or hug. But Ten and Prem keep moving to a new location every time they get discovered because they don’t want to stop kissing each other.

(Not to mention, they keep checking that the other is OK. Consent is sexy!)

There are also some little things that I really loved during this segment, and they mostly had to do with Ten’s hands. During their first makeout session, on the second floor of the café, Ten puts his hand behind Prem’s head when they spin around, so he can cushion it from hitting the bookcase. But also, there’s a moment where he takes his glasses off so that he can kiss Prem more easily. That is something that does not happen nearly enough and it literally makes me go feral. Honestly, to me, that can be sexier than someone taking off their shirt during a love scene. And speaking of shirts, Ten snuck his hand underneath Prem’s when they were in the car. I didn’t notice it when I was watching it on YouTube but they make it pretty obvious in the uncut version.

I love that these two are having conversations. Yay for open and honest communication! They both apologize for getting carried away, but I like that Ten still wants to get verbal confirmation that he isn’t alone in what he feels. Prem pointed out that they were just making out and that should be proof, but I think Ten needed to hear it. After all, they didn’t get the chance to talk about their kiss the night before, and then Dynamite, Samsi, and Chang Ma showed up and ruined things.

They are also having the difficult conversations. Because Ten’s dad is the worst, once he realizes that Prem isn’t going to stop seeing Ten, he goes to Prem’s grandmother to coerce her into intervening. There’s a lot I can say about the upper class asserting their influence over the lower class, but thankfully Prem’s grandmother puts him off long enough to get him out of the restaurant. Unfortunately, Ten’s dad then goes to Ten about it and chastises him for letting his grades slip. He mocks Ten’s reasons for wanting to go into medicine (his mother), and when Ten talks back, his dad slaps him.

I don’t know what Ten’s dad’s deal is at this point. First, he went to Prem because he was concerned that he was taking advantage of Ten. Then he goes to Prem’s grandmother because he’s worried that Ten’s grades are slipping. (Does Thailand work on a 4.0 system the way the United States does? Because low 3s is actually still pretty good grades.) I’m starting to wonder if either of those are true, or if he just wants to control Ten. I also couldn’t help but notice that he never approached Ten about any of this.

Prem overhears Ten’s argument with his father and vows to leave Ten alone for real this time, but Ten won’t allow that to happen. However, when he sees how broken up Prem is about what’s going on, he suggests they spend some time apart. Ten wants to be able to prove to his father that his relationship with Prem will not have an adverse affect on his schooling. (Gun should never cry, ever! But he’s so good at it.)

It’s basically a meme at this point that BLs have a breakup in the penultimate episode, so most people were groaning that we’re hitting that early. But I like the way Cooking Crush is handling it (at least so far). After Ten suggests that they not see each other, he learns that his father is sending him away for an internship. So, hopefully, rather than a contrived breakup followed by a time skip, they’ve built the separation into the narrative. Ten having an internship out of the city is a perfectly justifiable reason why they need to be apart. And both Ten and Prem are determined to prove that their relationship won’t derail their future, so this will give them the opportunity to work on that.

I love Prem’s grandmother. I love that she basically just placated Ten’s dad until he was out of earshot, and then she gave Prem advice on how to date Ten in secret. Also, I’m a little surprised that the serious matter she wanted to talk to him about was Ten; I guess the mysterious phone call she got in last week’s episode was from his father? I thought for sure they were building up to the restaurant being in financial distress.

Now, while I love Cooking Crush and I understand that it’s not going to be cinematic perfection (even though it is, in fact, cinematic perfection), it has its share of issues. Normally I can overlook them, but there were some glaring problems in “Shredded Pork & Sticky Rice – Waiting for Your Return”.

The editing was really bad in this episode. I generally only notice it in the YouTube version, while the uncut version tends to be better, so I attribute it to the scenes they’re removing. But it was even bad in the uncut version this time. When Ten is waiting for Prem at the café and he flashes back to the conversation in the grocery store, it took me a while to realize that was a flashback and not a dream sequence. I understand that it’s a narrative device to reveal some scenes later in a flashback, but sometimes I wish they would just, you know, put all the scenes in order.

There are going to be minor continuity errors in everything. No one is perfect. I can ignore things like Ten leaning forward to pick up his highlighter cap, even though we saw that it actually landed behind him. But holy crap, did no one think, when they brought Off and Gun back for reshoots, that they do something about Off’s hair? His hair length goes back and forth the entire episode, sometimes changing within the same scene, and it’s just really distracting. 

Anyway, minor issues aside, I’m still really enjoying this series. It’s just so sweet and fluffy, and as I’ve said before, I like getting to see Off and Gun play such gloriously smitten characters.

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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