While browsing through YouTube I came across “Cinderella Chef” (萌妻食神) a new series which recently started airing. It’s another “modern girl time travels to ancient China” webdrama and the show reminded me a lot of the series “Go Princess Go” and “Eternal Love”. When I saw a scene where the female lead thinks she’s ended up in a C-drama and asks the guys if they are at Hengdian Studios (which was where I happened to be visiting at the time), I decided to check out the first episode. Then I recognized Zhao Jian, whom I loved as Feng Ren in “Novoland: Castle in the Sky”, as well as the filming location they used, Hengdian’s Qing Ming Shang He Tu scenic area, and ended up watching the first weeks worth of shows. It’s a cute webdrama with potential for being a fun series.
Zhong Dan Ni (“Stairway to Stardom”) is an aspiring chef, Ye Jia Yao (aka Yao Yao), who, thanks to a depressed inventor and his time traveling ring, suddenly finds herself in Ancient China taking over the body of “Lady Ye” who has been kidnapped to be married off to one of the Black Wind’s bandits.
Thassapak Hsu (aka Thai-Taiwanese singer Bie KPN) is a nobleman, Xia Chun Yu. He’s heard that there is a potential rebellion being planned and decides to go undercover with the Black Wind to befriend the leader whom he suspects may be helping with the rebellion.
The pair meet cute when Lady Ye asks for his help to rescue her from her kidnappers. They end up pretending to be a couple and then eventually marrying to protect Xia’s cover. Ye Ye is ecstatic to have such a good-looking husband to spend time with while she waits for the next full moon to take her back to her own time, unaware of the potential danger she is in. Xia is focused on proving himself to the leader of Black Wind and finding out about their plans, while insisting to himself, Ye Ye and his allies that he has no interest in his new wife.
The romance is cute and Hsu is definitely easy on the eyes, but I have to admit that I’m more interested in the chemistry between Hsu and Zhao Jian who plays the head of the Black Wind, Bai Chong Ye. They have a great cat and mouse game going as each attempts to figure out what the other is up to, but at the same time there is a mutual admiration for one another and a growing bromance as they go back and forth between plotting against each other and working together to defeat their enemies.
For the comic relief, Zhong and Chai Ge (“Runaway Sweetheart”) bring on the cute factor, as well as some slapstick, with Lady Ye coming up with different schemes to make the most of her “vacation” in Ancient China, including “inventing” Coca Cola and fulfilling her dreams of owning a restaurant, with Song Qi (Chai) as her sometimes reluctant taste tester and assistant who is always there to support her through thick and thin. I like them as buddies and partners in mischief. They give off a very Lucy and Ethel vibe.
I’ve watched the first three weeks of episodes and the series has been set up for a lot of conflict to come:
- Lusi Zhao (“Untouchable Lovers”) plays Yi Yi, a friend and confident of Xia’s who also carries an obvious crush on him
- Ding Qi (Zhang Yu Cong, “Mr. Bodyguard”) is the real Lady Ye’s former crush and also a bandit with schemes of his own
- Sheng Guansen (Legend of the Naga Pearls) plays both the modern day inventor as well as the prince, Yu Wang, though it remains to be seen if he, like Ye Ye has also time traveled or if he is the prince plotting to rebel
And there are numerous scheming relatives and Black Wind members as well so subplots abound.
The series is your standard C-drama rom-com and the storyline doesn’t really offer anything new in regards to plot, but the cast is what makes this series interesting and fun to watch. The first episode starts at what presumably is the end of the series and hints at a bit of a bittersweet ending. But then again, as seen with other similar series, it could actually have a happily ever after finale. Will Xia and Bai become best of friends or best of enemies? How will Yao Yao return home and will she end up choosing to go back? When will Xia finally admit he’s got it bad for Yao Yao? How many more times will we get to see Hsu shirtless? I’m glad that there are several more episodes to go for this story to unfold and am interested to see if they can maintain the balance between drama and humor through out.
I think as long as the tension between Hsu and Zhao can be continued across the series and they can avoid being too over the top with the pop culture references or product placements (i.e. those “Go Princess Go” male enhancement ads or the “Oh My General” Comfort fabric softener bits), this could be a really good series. I’m also interested to see how they tie in the modern day alter egos of some of the characters as the show progresses. So far they’ve been able to come up with some fun twists for these characters so I’m eagerly awaiting the next batch of episodes.
The series can be seen on HIBN’s official YouTube channel with English and Thai subs being added about a day or so after the episodes are posted. So far it looks like they are posting two episodes a day, Monday through Wednesday. As of today they have posted the first eight episodes on their official channel. (You can find episodes 9-18 easily online as well and there are due to be 50 episodes total.)
This series, much like Eternal Love, makes for a good break after watching heavier fare like The Secret of the Three Kingdoms or if you, like me, are still finishing up Tribes and Empires or even while waiting for other series to start airing (seriously, when is The Wolf or King’s Avatar finally going to be available…). It’s a fun series and I’m looking forward to seeing what’s to come.