23 August 2011

Sik Gaek: Gourmet

After weeks of trying to finish a drama that caught my attention because of its uncommon theme, I finally finished it an hour ago! Whee! First, a few details.

CAUTION: May contain spoilers.

Title: 식객 Sik-gaek, Gourmet (on Philippine television), Shi Ke 食客 (Chinese working title)
Episodes: 24
Genre: Romance, Comedy

Kim Rae Won 김래원
Nam Sang Mi 남상미
Kim So Yun 김소연
Kwon Oh Joong 권오중

An aspiring chef who uses not only his brains and skills in cooking, but his heart.


A few weeks back, I started watching this Korean drama that was focused on cooking and Korean cuisine. I saw it first as a teaser for a new show in GMA-7 and upon seeing the cooking scenes, I was just drawn to it. I know how networks cut/delete a lot of scenes from foreign shows whenever they air it in the country that's why I decided to watch the show in its original format, Korean (English subtitles are available).

The show is about an aspiring young chef, who was adopted by a great Korean chef, after his father, a friend of the great chef, passed. His adoptive father and brother took him in and treated him like their own flesh and blood. However, when the time came for their father to pass on the family business and heritage, a restaurant known for its traditional and excellent Korean food, problems start arising and secrets are slowly revealed.

For a 24-episode series, this show seemed a bit too long. I've watched several, dozens, of 24-episode tv series in the past but despite my interest for this show, there were times wherein I felt that the show was dragging and too slow-paced. I guess it's because there were a few side stories the show could've done without.

Speaking of side stories, I know that some shows do need side stories. Background stories to help viewers understand the main characters' backgrounds, or where the problem or issue they're encountering stemmed from, or sometimes, just to prolong the series to satisfy the viewers' demands. In this case, the series had some side stories, which as I've mentioned, it could've done without, but there were also some side stories, which were interesting like the back story of Korea's best butcher. However, despite the good back stories they had, they failed to develop these back stories more. Most of the back stories I liked weren't resolved completely, while some appeared to be fillers because of the lack in story development. Characters would just go missing and the next thing you know, their background story is being presented without the right foundation or build up to it. The result? Viewers would be a bit confused in the beginning and even if it has been resolved or completed, there were still some questions left unanswered, characters gone missing, again, after.

The good thing about the series is that it focused on the food and the whole cooking procedure whenever there were scenes which called for it. I didn't get a "We're preparing kimchi," and voila! Kimchi pops out of nowhere. It was like watching a real cooking show, not just another Korean drama. Dishes they introduced to the viewers were prepared from scratch, each ingredient also introduced to the viewers. It gave the viewers a better understanding of the dishes they prepared, and the weight of it in relation to the current episode, why it was in the episode, etc. I understood the importance of certain dishes to the show's characters, what each meant to each character, and how it affected the character. It was indeed a cooking drama, not just a drama involving food.

Another thing I liked about the series was how they ended the show. It wasn't just a good wins over evil type of finale. The finale gave what the middle part lacked. Development. From the finale, you would know that the characters' did "grow" from when the show first started, and yet, it didn't leave who they really were to begin with, behind. You'd still see characteristics of Cheongchan even if he matured and learned, somewhere or in the middle of what he was doing. You'd still see bits and pieces of his older brother, even if he too, has learned new things and has moved on to become a better person. It wasn't the usual happy, sad, or good over evil type of ending. It was, mature. Satisfying. Appropriate. Nice but not in the feel-good type only.

Finally, this drama wasn't just heavy on the drama. If you like food, if you love to cook, if you like to laugh, this show is for you. It has the right mix of drama and comedy, and a whole lot of food and cooking in between. If you can see past the dragging scenes, you will definitely enjoy this show. :)

3.5 out of 5 for Sik Gaek

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