Love Buffet Episode 1 Recap

Love Buffet poster愛似百匯

Romanized title: Ai Si Bai Hui
English title: Love Buffet
Broadcast station: FTV/GTV
Broadcast dates: 19 December 2010 – 13 March 2011
Cast: Calvin Chen, Aaron Yan, Yu Hong Yuan
Opening theme: Shou Hu Xing (守護星) by Fahreheit
Ending theme:  Wu Hui (誤會) by Fahreheit
Based on the manga Parfait Tic (パフェちっく! Pafe Chikku!) by Nagamu Nanaji originally serialized in Margaret from 2000-2007 and collected in 22 volumes.
Synopsis: Basically, going by the manga storyline, this drama tells the story of one girl torn between two cousins. One cousin is her first crush, one is her first love, but which one will be THE ONE for Xiao Feng?

I could tell you the answer as I know how the manga ends, however, whether or not the drama will stick to the romance plot as laid out in the manga, remains to be seen. But I can promise you that you will get to see Xiao Feng yo-yo between the cousins with mixed feelings. She first falls for the easygoing Da Ye, but when he breaks her heart, she falls for the colder Yi Cheng. Needless to say things aren’t simple. Da Ye realizes he does have feelings for Xiao Feng and Yi Cheng has an ex he just can’t get over. What will essentially become of this complicated trio? We’ll find out over the course of this series.

What to say? LOVE the manga. The drama isn’t too bad, but not exactly what I was hoping for. Like most mangas turned drama, this now takes place in college versus high school and since this is a Taiwanese comedy, there is a lot of silliness, overacting, and the like. Aaron Yan’s and Calvin Chen’s acting is improving, but still not the best and the main actress, Yu Hong Yuan, reminds me too much of Cyndi Wang from her role in Smiling Pasta. I am just not feeling her too well. If Joanne Zheng had remained in the role, I wonder if I would like the lead actress any better? We have the storyline staying somewhat authentic to the manga in certain respects and going way out there in others. We will see how long I can watch this before it starts grating on my nerves too much. I do have to say, like Down With Love, I am surprised with how much happens in a single episode. A lot does, but then again, it is a whole lot of nothing as well. Read on for more details.

We open this series with the main characters as children. Hu Xiao Feng writes a letter to her future love and hides it in the apartment upstairs. We also see the cousins Xing Yi Cheng and Xing Da Ye together. Yi Cheng is hiding something as well. Da Ye complains about this, but Yi Cheng says he will only stop hiding his stuff when Da Ye stops taking it.

Fast forward to the present day and the Xing boys are told by their grandfather that he is sending them to Taipei (they are currently in Shanghai) to study and live on their own. They will have all the credit and debit cards cut off and will only receive a small stipend to cover basic necessities. I am not certain if this is just a test or if this has anything to do with the disastrous events of the prior year the grandfather alludes to. While packing, Yi Cheng (Aaron Yan of boy group Fahrenheit) looks at a mug before carefully packing it away. Da Ye (played by Calvin Chen of Fahrenheit) tries to cheer up his younger cousin by saying that they can start fresh in Taiwan and make new friends – the perfect remedy for forgetting ex-girlfriends.

It is Valentine’s Day and Xiao Feng and her two friends are depressed as they are eating in a restaurant surrounded by lovers while they only have each other. A fight breaks out between a man and his girlfriend and Xiao Feng comments on how at least they don’t have to put up with that, but her two friends would rather be fighting with a boyfriend than be in their current single state. Xiao Feng goes home only to find her older sister (a mangaka) and her mother (a professional taster) eating instant noodles as her dad (a cook & TV salesman) films a program selling cookware. Xiao Feng calls the program and tells her dad to make her mom and sister a special Valentine’s meal of egg fried rice. He agrees that he will do that when he is done and hangs up. The Hu family go to their individual rooms while the Xing cousins arrive in Taiwan.

They arrive at their lodging only to learn they do not have the keys to get in. Da Ye thought Yi Cheng had them and Yi Cheng thought Da Ye had them. While Da Ye tries to find a way to enter (making a lot of noise, causing the oldest Hu women to think there’s a burgular) Yi Cheng sees a light on by a window. He goes over to knock on it just as Mr. Hu arrives home. Xiao Feng opens the window (wearing a mask) thinking it is her father. She is startled to see Yi Cheng and screams, bringing Da Ye making her scream again which brings her father running. When her father gets to her window and demands to know who the two boys are, the cops show up.

Once things have been cleared up, the boys eat the egg friend rice Mr. Hu brought home for his eldest daughter and wife. They all apologize for the misunderstandings and Mr. Hu tells them how the landlord gave him the key for safe keeping until the boys arrived. Both Da Ye and Yi Cheng apologize for startling Xiao Feng. Da Ye then tells the Hus that they will be going to the university nearby, which is also Xiao Feng’s school. Da Ye is an economics major (ironic considering that Calvin Chen has Master’s in  economics in real life) while Yi Cheng is studying human services – which happens to be Xiao Feng’s major. Xiao Feng is then tasked with showing the boys to school the next day. During the meal and conversation, Xiao Feng comes to like the animated, warm Da Ye, and the cool, distant Yi Cheng.

The next day, all the girls in the school are buzzing about the two new transfers. Hard to believe they’ve been in Taiwan only one day, but the rumors and their fans have built like crazy. Da Ye especially attracts girls. Xiao Feng tries to be friends with fellow classmate Yi Cheng, but he ignores her and cuts short all of her conversation attempts. After Yi Cheng leaves the classroom for a moment, Xiao Feng’s two friends pounce on her and begin asking questions, slightly disappointed to find out Xiao Feng’s being with the two new transfers is only coincidental. Xiao Feng looks across the way and notices that Da Ye’s classroom is the one right across from hers. Da Ye sees her and waves, thanking her for the fried rice (Taiwanese slang for making out). Xiao Feng loudly exclaims that it was egg fried rice, but students get the wrong idea, especially when Da Ye blurts out that they are living together. Not really, just in the same building. Poor Xiao Feng.

Xiao Feng and Yi Cheng have been grouped together to work on a project. They must visit an organization dealing with special needs kids (special as in either both parents or one is dead). Xiao Feng tries to be open and warm again, but Yi Cheng shuts her down again. When the time comes to interact with the children, Xiao Feng has fun playing with them while Yi Cheng just sits around looking at the reports for class. He then notices a child who is viciously stabbing the stuffed animals on the table. The child then notices the blindfolded Xiao Feng and goes to stab her with his pencil. Yi Cheng goes to intercept the child, taking his precious mug with him (why is he still carrying it?). He yells at the child, causing Xiao Feng to get angry with him. The boy starts crying and Xiao Feng demands he apologize. Yi Cheng doesn’t explain what was happening and just goes to turn away. Xiao Feng grabs his arm, sending the mug flying. It falls to the ground and shatters. Xiao Feng apologizes and goes to help, but Yi Cheng tells her to leave it while he picks up the pieces.

When their stint at the organization is over, it starts to rain. Yi Cheng asks if Xiao Feng has an umbrella. She replies no, and he hands her his backpack so he can take off his jacket. He then takes his bag back and runs off himself, leaving Xiao Feng alone, umbrellaless. This annoys Xiao Feng who thought that he was going to share his jacket with her. She makes it back to the college only to find Da Ye in the stairwell with a girl! The girl was crying and had earlier confessed to Da Ye that her boyfriend had just broken up with her. Wow. Da Ye just holds and comforts her and shoos Xiao Feng away. Needless to say, her first good impressions (after the initial horrified one) have been shattered.

When Xiao Feng gets home, Da Ye is busy in the Hu kitchen cooking a large, sumptuous meal. Yi Cheng gets upstairs and finds the place empty. He calls Da Ye about their stuff and Da Ye tells him to come down for dinner. Yi Cheng refuses, but Da Ye says he will get no supper if he doesn’t come, so come he does. The Hus are impressed with Da Ye’s cooking skills and are horrified to learn that he learned out to cook because his parents were always gone. Mrs. Hu asks if Yi Cheng can cook as well and he replies that he can only eat. Awkward. Mrs. Hu then says that is all she can do, in fact, she is a professional eater. She does taste tests and reviews. Da Ye asks for her opinion on his cooking and he gets full marks. Da Ye then says how much he enjoys eating with all the Hus (sans Mr. Hu) as he likes being with a large family.

The next day, the kids from the area find an abandoned puppy. Yi Cheng tells Xiao Feng to leave it alone as her kindness will only hurt it as she cannot keep it. She impresses Yi Cheng when she declares that she will do whatever it takes to find the puppy a home. And now we have a whole bunch of time devoted to her and Da Ye doing everything they can to find the puppy a home. Seriously? We have that much time devoted to a dog, but it is supposed to show the deepening affection Xiao Feng has for Da Ye who is warm, considerate, and thoughtful. His niceness and charm makes her think that he likes her too? Meanwhile, Yi Cheng observes the new closeness with what looks like jealousy. He also does some behind the scenes work to find the dog a home, too.

We have this big montage of scenes where Da Ye and Xiao Feng run all over town looking for a vet for the sick puppy. They even run in the pouring rain (Da Ye actually doing what Yi Cheng didn’t and holding his coat over both of them) until they find a place. Ye gads, talk about some over dramatic scenes right there. They act like new parents concerned over their newborn’s health. I am not an animal hater, but just the whole thing seemed blown out of proportion to the point of silliness. Anywho. Of course, they both get sick from that and end up missing school the next day with colds.

When Xiao Feng learns that Da Ye is sick, she goes upstairs with medicine and the porridge her dad made for her and takes care of Da Ye. After he ate and took the medicine, Xiao Feng goes to  return home only to be stopped by Da Ye who doesn’t want her to go until he falls asleep. So, of course, she stays and then falls asleep herself. Yi Cheng goes home to find the apartment door cracked and Xiao Feng’s shoes outside. Instead of going in, he stays outside all afternoon until Xiao Feng wakes up. She checks the sleeping Da Ye’s temperature and then goes to leave. She is shocked when she opens the door only to have Yi Cheng fall inside. She is mortified to learn he stayed outside so they could have their “privacy.” Xiao Feng says she was only taking care of the sick Da Ye, but Yi Cheng just brushes her off. She angrily leaves only to have him call out to her and drop a pudding (parfait?) her way in thanks for taking care of his sick cousin.

And, yeah, what more to say? The dog finds a home, Xiao Feng is pretty certain that she does have feelings for Da Ye, though Yi Cheng warns her away from his cousin. Why? He knows Da Ye’s attitude towards girls, plus it looks like he’s got some of his own feelings starting for Xiao Feng as well.

Xiao Feng and Da Ye are surprised to find out that it was an internet ad that helped the puppy get a new home. Da Ye knows that it is his younger cousin’s doing and promises to cook a big dinner in celebration and thanks. Xiao Feng goes to their house to help out and goes and bugs Yi Cheng when he comes home. Yi Cheng says there is no thanks needed, he just helped the puppy, but still Da Ye wants to celebrate. Da Ye gets a call from his mom and Xiao Feng is noticeably relieved to hear it is just Da Ye’s mother. Yi Cheng watches while she intently listens to the conversation and you can tell he’s got some of his own jealousy going on.

End episode. Seriously. Most of the plot revolved around the dog and some of Yi Cheng’s flashbacks to a shadowy girlfriend and the trio’s relationships starting to get established.

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