YAY!! Finally, this semester is over and now I have all this freedom that I don’t even know what to do with. So what’s the best way for a drama addict to waste away their school break doing? Why, drama-binging, of course! It has not even been a whole week since my last day of class but I’ve already completed my first summer break series (even though it’s still spring), and let me tell you, I REGRET NOTHING!!
Lee Soo Kyung is a 33 year old divorcee whose only joy in life is eating. Despite being such a glutton, her biggest fear is to go out alone. When her neighbor is mysteriously found dead in her apartment, a bright and optimistic college student, Yoon Jin Yi , becomes her new neighbor. Although a bit reluctant to become close to her at first, Soo Kyung, Jin Yi and their other neighbor Goo Dae Young begin to rely on each other as meal buddies and soothe their loneliness.
My Impression of Let’s Eat:
Let’s Eat is the perfect start to the laid back summer I’ve been fantasizing about for so long. For the most part, it’s cheerful and light which made it super easy to watch. I’m glad I discovered it AFTER it had finished airing because one episode a week must have been a tough challenge, especially to those who picked it up from the very day it began airing last October.
At first glance, this drama doesn’t seem like much. It’s probably got to be one of the most normal K-Dramas out there. What I mean is, there’s nothing particularly special that’s going on. Everyone in the drama has their personal issues, but they are normal every-day struggles that many of us can relate to. The most abnormal thing about this series is the fact that there is a psycho running around the neighborhood, hacking women. However much it tries to be a consequential subplot from the gravity of such subjects, most of the time there is such little emphasis put to it that throughout the whole episodes you tend to forget that this is even an issue.
Although it might sound like the casual plot is dull and unexciting, this drama is subtly brilliant! It’s very different in many aspects to regular K-Dramas. It starts off slow, but before you know it, it creeps into a place in your heart with its charming simplicity and lovable characters. In my opinion, the best extra feature a K-Drama can add to its story is friendship. Let’s Eat presents friendship in a natural and realistic way: three neighbors living alone, eating out together for the sake of companionship. This drama may be lacking in romance, which doesn’t start until much later, but that’s okay. Just watching everyone interact and learning to get along is a joy in itself.
The rockiest shift in the plot was the romance that developed almost toward the end of the series. I had already grown accustomed and content with watching Soo Kyung and Dae Young interacting very sibling-like, but out of the blue we are expected to root for their romantic relationship. This change is not completely horrible, but it was not graceful at all. One day we have Dae Young wholeheartedly encouraging another man to conquer his noona’s heart, the next morning he’s jealous and upset? Soo Kyung falls for him a little earlier, simply because he’s the owner of the blog she is so fond of? This coming from the woman that accused him of murder. Huh, love sure is fickle.
Unlike most other K-Dramas in its respectable category, this drama isn’t a food drama that uses its theme as an excuse for the romance. Quite the opposite, actually. The anticipated romance is the one that’s the excuse for the food! No, I may be giving this drama too little credit. EVERYTHING is an excuse for the food. This is hands down the most delicious drama that I have ever watched. The emphasis they give to the characters’ mealtimes is so sensual and vivid that I almost felt guilty for staring so intently. I’d expect to get bored and skip forward past the food scenes, but it was not in my power to do so. The sighing, slurping, smacking, crunching and moaning may be a little disturbing at first, but eventually you find yourself squealing and fighting the urge not to take a bite off your screen. Sometimes I felt like I was watching an advertisement because once they start ingesting the food, the background music starts to play, you get a slow motion flow of every angle, and the atmosphere completely changes to the point where it feels like this should not be part of the drama. Not that it’s inappropriate or unpleasant, but sometimes I found myself wondering if this was not a new approach to product placements in dramas: Putting commercials INSIDE the K-Drama!! GENIUS!!! Whatever company supplied their food product must have been banking because if I were in Korea I’d have done everything in my power to find out where that delicious pizza came from instead of settling for Little Ceasar’s from down the road. JUST.LIKE.THAT!
The food is given a lot of importance but it doesn’t take away the charm of the story. The characters and their relationships are what really make this drama so endearing. It’s a simple K-Drama, but it manages to enchant you without ever becoming boring.
I want to mention how nice the quality of this drama is. It’s very soft and warm and the production really captures everything so intensely. It’s evident when there is a food scene, but I remember thinking this even when there were scenes of the city. The lights seemed so bright and the streets were full of life. I think this drama did a great job of capturing the normal lifestyle of the working class. If you pay attention, you notice a lot of detail.
Characters and Acting:
Let’s Eat doesn’t offer much backstory on its characters, it focuses on its timeline’s ‘Here and Now’. The philosophy of it seems to be that if it doesn’t affect them in their current setting, then details are not important. Our main character Lee Soo Kyung was a divorcee and yet we don’t even get a little information about why things didn’t work out. In a way, I appreciate the privacy of the matter, as if the past was no longer relevant (wow, so different from the norm, no?). This approach didn’t make me think that the characters were any less relatable, but I did become suspicious of everyone at first. Since there’s a killer on the loose and the characters’ true intentions not properly established, you can’t help silently become doubtful of them when something seems a bit off. I think the mystery of the matter was intended to make you a little paranoid and wary. However, even when we were offered a real explanation, it sometimes wasn’t enough to convince me completely.
The leading lady, Lee Soo Kyung (whose real name is exactly that) is frustrating at first. She’s kind of a grouch and tries to avoid making friends but she is quick to judge and develops her opinion of others by disliking them from the very beginning. She seems to genuinely hate her neighbors for no reason but she is especially suspicious of Dae Young. Despite her bitter personality, I couldn’t help feeling sorry for her at times. She is lonely and but her only joy is eating. On occasions when she was too sad to eat happily, the food scenes seemed incomplete without her joining in.
I was pleasantly surprised to see B2ST’s Doo Joon acting in this drama so well. I’ve never watched any of his dramas before (or any other actor in this drama), but he played his character so naturally. Goo Dae Young is a friendly character but I admit that Soo Kyung’s mistrust on him was not illogical. At first, he was pretty sketchy. He always knew information about everyone around him and his strange behavior made him suspicious even to the viewer. Earlier I said that even when an explanation was offered, I was still unsure about the character. That character that I was talking about was Dae Young. He wasn’t your regular chaebol lead nor an outcast of a wealthy family. He was an insurance agent with his own financial issues, but for some reason that was really hard for me to swallow. I really liked how normal they made this character, but since I’m used to the fancy glitter, it took me off guard. That and a few unusual details.
Jin Yi’s character is a nice, sweet person that you can’t help but like. She is sincere and wants to get closer to Soo Kyung and Dae Young. She is the glue that holds that little crew together. Jin Yi sees Soo Kyung as an older sister and although she develops feelings for Dae Young and doesn’t try to hide it, she’d rather not force her feelings onto him if it means he will push away. Yoon So Hee is the pretty actress that plays Jin Yi, and she does a great job portraying a charismatic innocence. She has really kind eyes that can give off a sexy appeal but at times her features also reminded me of EXO’s Kai.
If there’s a character that I truly enjoyed, it has to be Soo Kyung’s boss, Kim Hak Moon (Shin Hyung Tak). He is an arrogant lawyer who has secretly been in love with Soo Kyung for 10 years. He likes her, but he also resents her for ‘rejecting’ him. She, of course, has no idea of the grudge he holds against her, for he was the one that misunderstood the situation. I think for at least the first 10 episodes, this character could have easily transcended CLEANLY into being the lead male character and Soo Kyung’s love interest. He had all the right characteristics and he was a funny fellow. Soo Kyung also hated him because for the past 9 years that she’d worked for him, he nagged and tormented her as if she was his office maid. He may have acted like an a**hole in front of Soo Kyung, but he was really a sweetheart. His silly personality made the office scenes so cute but all the employees in Soo Kyung’s office were pretty entertaining. They helped balance out the drama really well.
There’s a special actor in this drama that I have to give credit to. Lee Soo Kyung’s Pomeranian, Barassi was a smart little guy that was so fun to watch. The dog has been trained so well, and although I wasn’t able to find any information of his owner/trainer, he really deserves the spotlight for a quick moment. It’s not often when a drama has such emphasis on a pet, he was really his own little character and not just ‘the dog’.
I really love thebackground music to this show. I can’t imagine a song like K Jun’s Let’s Eat could be any more perfect. For a drama that uses food as the plot’s basic structure, the most appropriate lyrics are ones that are just as delicious as the drama:
But reality is ramen, hamburgers and instant fast food, I eat it all
I try not to eat it but it’s everywhere, the MSG taste
I want some overcooked rice crust, my appetite is like the rabbit chasing after the turtle
I can’t take it anymore, I can’t stop myself, put your hands up
As soon as this song started playing, I knew I was getting ready to start drooling. You can listen to and download it right *HERE*
I’m fighting the urge not to give this drama a perfect store based on my sheer enjoyment, but there were a few flaws such as the romance shift that I mentioned earlier and unattended subplots. If someone is looking for a K-Drama for the sake of the romance and cute lovey-dovey scenes, then this drama is not it. However, if someone is just trying to find a feel-good drama with characters that will grow on you and make you feel like you yourself know them, then I highly recommend you give this series a try. It’s different, but it’s a delight.
Flower Boy Next Door – Both are about women that are afraid to get close to others and their neighbors that teach them how to open up.