Previously known as Love Myself or You, Pleasantly Surprised is the latest Twdrama to premiere this past friday, featuring a group of wannabe cooks all gathered in a small french restaurant, managed by a petty executive chef out to woo one of his female chefs in all the crippling ways. In comes a handsome intern, looking to change the way people feel about cooking and lead his childhood friend back on the track to enjoy life.
Episode 1 Recap:
In a quiet alley, our female lead decides to try out a small restaurant. Cut to 5 minutes of excessive camera angles and closeups of Du Kai Chi (Puff Guo), nibbling on delectable dishes that come in small amounts and satisfy no one’s appetite in this day and age. Screw fine dining! Give me a dish with more food than empty space!
She seeks to pick the brains of the head chef in charge of the wonderful dishes she just ate and before she could meet the great man, a phone call from someone directs her attention to a more serious matter at hand. Kai Chi rushes out of the restaurant and bumps into a biker, falling to the ground and scraping her elbow.
Arriving at her mother’s food stall, she discovers the place a mess and her mother’s face dotted with bruises. She wants to seek medical help but her mother replies in a hopeless way with: “It’s fine, I’m used to it anyway.”
Woman, did you somehow slip through the crack from the 15th century? Where I come from, his a$$ would be sitting in jail, not wandering the street, waiting for an opportunity to terrorize other women. Kai Chi wants to report the said man and her mother stops her, revealing to the viewers that the horrible man is her husband and Kai Chi’s biological father. Ah, and now we know why Kai Chi likes to be alone. Because growing up in a violent environment does that to you. You tend to gravitate toward silence and independence.
Cleaning up the messes on the floor, Kai Chi tells her mother to stop operating the food stall, dropping the news that her earnings will soon double, if she passes the upcoming exam and becomes the sous chef for Figaro Cuisine, a French restaurant she’s currently working at. Notice that her back is facing her mom and her tone doesn’t carry the assertive manner it should. But Mama Du doesn’t think a single person’s income can maintain the expenses of two and refuses to pile more burdens on her hard-working daughter.
Meanwhile, the said chef we saw earlier is Fu Zhi Jie (Jasper Liu) and he was only helping out a friend for a day at the restaurant. He’s comfortably home and whipping out a few exquisite dishes to feed his loving parents. The air takes a turn when Mama and Papa Fu steal glances and suggest an idea to keep him rooted in Taiwan. While Zhi Jie does have an older brother who manages the family’s other businesses, he isn’t fond of managing a restaurant. Naturally, the task needs to be passed down to an appropriate person and who else is more perfect than their chef son Zhi Jie, who has years of experience in French culinary?
On paper, it makes sense but Zhi Jie honestly declares his desires are solely about cooking and learning about cooking. Handling and managing a restaurant isn’t a thing he wants to do. Not wanting to push their son further, the parents settle with Plan B: have Zhi Jie interning at their restaurant for a month. As it’s only a month, Zhi Jie reluctantly agrees. Jumping the gun and assuming that his temporary agreement means that he’ll be residing at home, Mama Fu quickly thinks about fixing his room. To that, he says no, as he prefers to rent a place near the restaurant. Each taking a step back, the parents raise the okay sign with their fingers and Zhi Jie smiles sweetly. What a flash. 😀
In the comfort of her home, Kai Chi tends to her wound and laments that she won’t be able to practice cooking tonight. As she lives alone, we are privy to her thoughts and she too realizes the sous chef position isn’t hers and she still needs to compete to win that title.
And her competition is none other than Cheng Le Xuan (Lene Lai), who arrives in a fancy car the next morning, in contrast to Kai Chi’s poor-looking motor bike. The two acknowledge each other with a brief greeting.
Next person to stop Kai Chi is her executive chef, Ji Yong Qian (Sean Lee), who parks the car in the middle of a parking space to talk to her. Apparently, that’s how people drives AFTER they received their license. You know who you are.
However, despite his envious height and handsome features, Yong Qian seems to function with very few brain cells. He fancies Kai Chi and wants to marry her but does so in all the wrong ways that make Kai Chi stare up at him like he’s an 8-legged alien. If she marries him, he can grant all her wishes. In response, she says, “When a tiger is sleeping, it resembles a cute cat. But when it’s disturbed, it will….RAWRRRRRR!!” and snaps at him.
Then he goes and wonders why she doesn’t want to marry him. Lol.
Like any other competitions, sides are picked and bets are placed. Looks like Kai Chi isn’t well-liked and only one person seems to be on her side, a chef with a sketchy background – Da Zhi (Yorke Sun).
While the competition slowly heats up to a climax, Zhi Jie arrives outside the restaurant and practices his introduction as the new intern. heh.
Standing in front of the restaurant brings back many fond memories and Zhi Jie recalls the time when his nanny/cook resigned on New Year’s Eve twenty years ago. She is Kai chi’s mom and the two kids were good friends.
He walks into the restaurant and introduces himself to Yong Qian and curtly leaves to examine the kitchen, much to Yong Qian’s disbelief at the lad’s homely entrance. Zhi Jie watches as the two ladies go about their way of making the designated French dish, nodding in approval at Le Xuan’s gentle and bright handling while shaking his head at Kai Chi’s harsh kitchen manners.
After the two dishes are presented on the table, a round of trash talking begins between the two sides, until Yong Qian steps in and announces that he won’t be the judge and points to Zhi Jie as the decision maker of the day. Shrewd.
He compliments Le Xuan’s dish and spits out Kai Chi’s steak after two seconds of chewing and declares the winning dish to be Le Xuan’s. Rolling her hand into a fist, Kai Chi grabs Zhi Jie’s collar and asks for his credentials, “What intern are you to judge my cuisine?!!”
She can’t believe her defeat and rushes to the table to eat a piece of her steak. Almost instantly, her sharp, accusing eyes shoot to Yong Qian, knowing deep down that he has somehow tampered with her ingredients. Zhi Jie follows her gaze and seems to catch on.
He later learns that she’s Du Kai Chi (Nanny’s daughter), thanks to Le Xuan’s scream of vexation across the room after Kai Chi mocks her by saying she’s a flower vase with no talents. And thus begins Zhi Jie’s stalking quest, following and observing Kai Chi from afar until Linda, one of the assistant chefs accidentally holds a hot pot. He runs in and offers aid immediately, but he also notes Kai Chi’s indifferent attitude towards the incident. She has changed a lot huh, kid?
Instead of showing concern for a fellow colleague, Kai Chi goes upstairs to change, which leads to another awkward confrontation when she’s changing and Zhi Jie walks into the locker room. She thinks another female worker is still outside and asks her to pass the shirt. Not knowing the right way to act, Zhi Jie pauses, which prompts Kai Chi to lift the veil and sees what’s up with her colleague. Upon seeing Zhi Jie, she’s as cool as a cucumber in her black tank top, moving out of the changing area and putting on her shirt with him turning away as if she’s nekkid. haha. I’m gonna enjoy this dynamic so much.
He continues to follow her after work. Which is notttttttt creepy at ALL. She enters a Japanese Sushi bar, orders a beer and a few dishes to release her inner frustration. She talks aloud, saying how much she has labored over the past 6 years to reach to her position, and how she only wishes to give her mother a better life by becoming a French chef. Oh honey, you’re in it for the wrong reason too. In conclusion, she thinks the new intern colluded with the executive chef to plot her downfall.
After her friend leaves, Kai Chi downs can after can of Taiwan beer until her body no longer listens to her brain and she wobbles from side to side. Before she can fall off the chair, Zhi Jie hurries over to catch her body and tells her to stop drinking. Psttttttttt. As if that matters now after she’s drunk like a skunk.
She blinks and looks up at him. When he replies that he’s the intern, she jerks up and grabs his shirt, grilling him about her mother’s wrinkled hand and that she was supposed to win. He reminds her that a chef’s hands are important, so she shouldn’t be working it today with that injured elbow.
Snuggling in his embrace, Zhi Jie asks the owner for a medical kit.
Ha! The classic piggy-back ride home. And in her drunken stupor, she tells him to bring her home because she doesn’t want to break the bad news to her mother….uhh….I’m not sure listening to her is the right idea.
And of course, hilarious antics of a drunk person is required. Smacking, hitting, and rambling.
When they safely reach her apartment, a kid runs out and calls her mother, leaving poor Zhi Jie with more questions than answers. heh.
Turns out, he lives next door to her. SO MUCH FUN!!
Next morning, Kai Chi rouses awake and finds Xiao Yi looking back at her in the kitchen. Turns out he’s her deceased sister’s kid. She left home after high school and had a child with a gangster. Now he feels tired of taking care of his own kid and decides to drop him off with grandma. Upset with the whole situation, Kai Chi says she doesn’t want to see the kid after work today. Mama Du looks down and Xiao Yi, who has been eavesdropping at the door, pouts in sadness. Awww. I feel bad for you kid but I see where Kai Chi is coming from. I’m so fed up with the men in this family.
Last scene of episode 1:
As I always say, first impression is important, but I need a peek at the inside too. 😛
Kap: A nice little drama. So glad my female lead isn’t a hyper bunny. However, she’s not that likable as a person either. On paper, we could become good friends since I’m also not much of a talker but I find her attitude a little lacking in the compassion department.
Performance-wise, I’m not sure Puff has found the niche with her character yet. Kai Chi is someone I imagine to have deep, soulful eyes because she thinks so much and tries to saddle all the responsibilities on her shoulders. Puff’s wide and clear eyes are the opposite of that. So when she should be channeling brooding mode, she appears …bored. We need an actress with depth in her acting to take this role to the next level. As of now, Puff is serviceable.
Jasper Liu as the unassuming and harmless childhood sweetheart is the perfect guy for the role of Zhi Jie. He’s the perfect foil for Kai Chi’s tense energy and a good model to guide her to an understanding of the phrase “make your vocation your vacation” because the girl badly needs some fire in her life.
Plus, this drama is shot with vibrant colors and interesting angles. And it’s hard to pass by the food porn.