Fun, fresh, and food cravingly good, Wok of Love turns up the heat with an enjoyable premiere!
Wok of Love or Greasy Melo (alternate title) is about Seo Poong (Junho) who works at a Michelin 6-star restaurant in a grand hotel as a Chef that serves up coveted Chinese dishes in the hopes of being the Head Chef one day. He encounters Dan Sae Woo (Jung Ryeo Won) a Chaebol heiress with a love for horseback riding and fencing at a hair salon coincidentally, only to see her again at a grand banquet held at the hotel a month later. Her request for a bowl of Jajangmyun leads him to ‘Hungry Wok’ a failing Chinese restaurant run by a Loan Shark and Gangster, Doo Chil Sung (Jang Hyuk) who instantly fell in love for Sae Woo at first sight.
I don’t want to give too much away in the synopsis and I can’t state anything further since I’ve only seen the first 2 episodes, but there’s quite a bit to cover as the drama packs a lot in its premiere. With a moderately fast pace, light tones, and a solid framework in terms of plot, the show sets the stage for what’s to come and moves things along to get to the point or the core story so to speak.
There’s no denying that each of our three lead actors are worthy of praise, their performances already making me fall for them even if the characters themselves haven’t been fully presented yet. Their individual, and unique personalities become established within these first 2 episodes and I love that about the drama.You can already see the synergy and chemistry oozing from the three of them during their interactions with one another, which already makes this drama a winner in my books.
Of course, we have to applaud and thank the Writer for bringing back food as a central component of a drama – something I haven’t seen since Drinking Solo and Wok of Love has character quirks that set aside the leads as in any of the Writer’s previous works like Jealousy Incarnate and the K-drama classic, Pasta.
People are already noting and praising the attention to detail when it comes to the cooking and cuisine aspects, the scenes depicting classic or renowned methods of preparing foods. I’d go further to say that because we’re dealing with a Korean context, the ‘Chinese’ cuisine is mainly a Korean take and interpretation of dishes with some traditional delicacies represented as they would be prepared in China (viewers should be mindful of that while watching).
One of the biggest controversies circulating is Jang Hyuk being casted as the second male lead but I wouldn’t be too quick to judge the Casting Director since Chil Sung is such a remarkably entertaining persona. He’s enigmatic, and no one other than someone of Jang Huk’s caliber could tackle such a role. He has charms that are clearly repressed yet evident onscreen and I can’t help but scratch my head because that seems nearly impossible.
The actor even stated he wanted to work on a project that was light, meaningful, and fun to break away from his intense roles – a smart move in order to escape being casted into similar roles in the future and to remind us all that he can easily go from dark to light. And Jang Hyuk’s ability to go from a supremely polar opposite role to that of Doo Chil Sung just goes to show how incredibly versatile of an actor he is.
I absolutely adore Jung Ryeo Won as this bubbly and unusual female lead who isn’t like the conventional heiress typecast in dramas. She breathes air into her role as Sae Woo that I wouldn’t normally warm up to had it been anyone else since the character would feel as flat as a doormat in the hands of a different actress. An Equestrian and Fencer rolled into one female lead is not only unique but never done before, yet it’s not even outrageous considering Sae Woo’s status as a Chaebol.
It’s interesting to note that our two older veteran actors got unusual characters whereas Junho’s character is by far the most normal out of the three. Seo Poong’s unrelenting philosophy in relation to cooking is what will set him apart along with his unfortunate and messy love life (I promise not to spoil anything but I received a minor shock within the first episode…I’d like to rip someone’s hair out! A very specific person in fact).
I know we’d all love to see a blooming romance between Chil Sung and Sae Woo, and I really wish we had an equal playing field where things are kept ambiguous and we get to cheer for either males but it’s definitely an interesting direction to take and will no doubt give Sae Woo one hell of a time to decide who to choose, even if it’ll ultimately be Seo Poong in the end. I’m actually hoping a magical rug gets pulled under all of our feet and the second male lead gets the girl…I can dream and hope, right?
The secondary characters throughout the drama consist of veteran actors and familiar faces that can be found in other shows and give Wok of Love more leverage. A great secondary cast coupled with a solid main cast promises effortless scenes that are guaranteed to be an entertaining watch. I’m all for the bumbling kitchen men that make up Chil Sung’s gang since they’ve been the main source of comedy thus far.
I’m also quite engrossed into the details the drama presents us within it’s premiere. Like how Seo Poong gets married and Sae Woo prepares for her upcoming wedding…yeah. I definitely did not see that coming! They’re brow raising scenarios that will lead to more drama and complexities with exes and foes lingering about, and maybe some great and hilarious fight scenes with Chil Sung’s loyal gang who can’t seem to fathom why the man loves Nietzsche so much.
With food as its main theme, Wok of Love brings together a woman who loves food, a Chef, and a restaurant owner in this fun and delicious new series. It’s been ages since I’ve been able to label a K-drama fun so this will be a personal favourite with an excellent cast, Writer, and odd but lovable characters, giving us an uncommon story we haven’t seen before; it’s bound to be full of surprises and questioning plot-lines to wash out any reserved skepticism you might hold. I’d give this a chance before chucking it out – you can’t go wrong with anything that has food!
Just remember to not watch this on an empty stomach!