...when the screen takes over...

Kang’s Kitchen, Fifth Episode (part 2)

The end is nigh and questions loom. Do they make it? Will the promised karaoke session come true? Will there be a season two? If anything, this has been an interesting ‘Journey’.

Ho-Dong shouts the mark of the beginning of Kang’s Kitchen’s last day. He then puts up the ‘open’ sign.

Kang’s Kitchen’s Last Day

As their first customers are coming in, Ji-Won is awed by the baby on the stroller. The Hall is soon filled with customers. In the kitchen, Min-Ho prepares a donkatsu. Ho-Dong does a little move. “I’ve been ruling this kitchen,” he says. (A caption reads “a swag ruler”).

A customer calls to order. Soo-Geun asks him to go slow else they all get worked up, excited*. In the kitchen, Ho-Dong wields a huge knife clouded in darkness and expresses strong opposition to Soo-Geun’s choice of word. (* 흥분, can also mean ‘sexually aroused’)

Soo-Geun explains their latest set menu to the customers. Ji-Won, who’s observing nearby, mentions that Soo-Geun develops the menu. He promotes the ramyeon kimbab combo heavily and successfully sells one.

Ji-Won puts the first order on the board. Jae-Hyeon and Ho-Dong read it. There is no omurice order.

The last day’s first order.

One of the couple of the third table sounds determined to eat all. “I can do it. I will do it!” The couple also orders the set menu, another score for Soo-Geun. He says out loud, so the kitchen can hear, that the omurice seems to fall out of favour today.

In the kitchen Min-Ho chuckles. Jae-Hyeon does some stretchings. “This is the first time I’ve ever got spare time,” he says. The spare time is short-lived, however, as the customers of the fourth table order one omurice. A group of customers arrive and order the set menu and Kang-Ho-Dong-katsu.

Soo-Geun coordinates with the kitchen regarding the set menu. The ramyeon shall follow after kimbab. Ho-Dong asks which to do first, ramyeon or donkatsu. “Donkatsu,” everyone says.

While waiting for omurice order, Jae-Hyeon washes dishes. But the faucet’s pull-out sprayer leaks water. “It’s been injured,” he says. Jae-Hyeon gets a plumber’s tape. He examines the parts that leak (a caption reads “the wounded area”) and applies the plumber’s tape (“bandage”). Nearby, Min-Ho asks questions.

Dr Ahn and Min-Ho the resident

Jae-Hyeon finishes the taping. He turns on the faucet and finds the leak has been reduced. “This will do,” he says even though there is another small leak at other part of the pull-out metal hose. “This is the first time I’ve seen anything like this,” he says. When he pulls the spayer to wash a chopping board, the leak at the other part gets stronger.

Meanwhile, the day’s first donkatsu is done. Ji-Won brings it to the first customers. They like it. The customer notes its freshly cooked state which must have contributed to its taste. “Eat it while it’s still warm,” she urges her daughter. The baby makes noises, prompting the grandmother to express sorry while eating the donkatsu.

 

In the kitchen, Jae-Hyeon chops leeks silently while a series of captions and quiet music are telling a story, “with a gentle expression, he chops scallions finely. As if he were in a scene from a movie.” In the Hall, Soo-Geun too cuts the kimbab but the end of it falls apart, as if he were in a comic book.

A comic book spin-off?

Soo-Geun gets another roll of kimbab. This time, while the same music is playing, he manages to cut it into fine pieces. He carefully does the plating. From the kitchen, Jae-Hyeon commends the look, “the visual is no joke!” Soo-Geun finishes it with a sprinkle of sesame seeds.

He takes the kimbab to the customers and tell its story: inspired by the upcoming Pyeongchang Winter Games. He elaborates the material used in it. Unbeknownst to Soo-Geun, the customer is confused. “Should I eat it by hand?” But they think it’s delicious. Soon after that, Ji-Won brings the ramyeon.

Soo-Geun is visibly pleased with the compliments his kimbab has earned. From the counter, he talks with the customer about it as she tries to find out the ingredients.

When another customer asks if they can order kimbab without the ramyeon. Soo-Geun politely dodges the request. The grandmother offers their kimbab and brings it to the requesting customer.

Soo-Geun thanks the customers for sharing the food. He remarks, sarcasticaly, that their boss also encourages food sharing. “He screams about it everyday,” Soo-Geun says. The aformentioned boss makes noise as he gives a donkatsu to the Hall. After one look at it, Ji-Won just says, “(what about) the sauce?”

The camera is shaking and the crew is heard laughing out loud as the boss heads towards the sauce pot. Ho-Dong screams “calm down!”, scoops the sauce, and pours it over the donkatsu.

Soo-Geun asks the customers who is given the kimbab. “It’s delicious,” he says. Soo-Geun looks pleased.

 

 

In the kitchen, Ho-Dong asks whether he should do the next ramyeon right away or slowly. Soo-Geun, Jae-Hyeon and Min-Ho tell him to take his time. Ho-Dong cancels lighting the fire for ramyeon. Ji-Won comes, sticks new order on the board, and says, “the faster you go, the faster you get.” Ho-Dong laughs. (A caption reads “[it’s] Kang’s Kitchen’s motto”)

The kitchen is speeding up. The stove area is busy with omurice cooking, ramyeon boiling, and donkatsu deep-frying. Jae-Hyeon finally gets the last day’s first omurice done. It instantly draws “it’s delicious!” remarks.

Jae-Hyeon wants to eat all in the menu, “the donkatsu too looks delicious.” Today, Ho-Dong fashions the salad sauce in the shape of a heart.

One donkatsu goes to the ‘I-can-do-it’ couple. The woman eats it and comments right away while the man is still cutting it into smaller pieces. “You ate it already!” he sounds surprised. Their kimbab is served. The man immediately gobbles one. The accompanying ramyeon soon follows. Ji-Won recommends eating the meat cuts together with the ramyeon soup.

When the woman asks why the man slows down, he says he needs a moment to think. They have eaten all the food, the man says, “we are like food fighters.”

Ho-Dong brings dirty plates to the dish-washing corner. The ‘I-can-do-it’ couple leave. In the Hall, at intervals, Soo-Geun cleans the floor and then argues with Ji-Won about orders. Their voices carry to the kitchen that Min-Ho, listening in, almost drops a plate while wiping it dry.

Soo-Geun announces his taking a drug, which draws the others’ attention for he sounds incomprehensible. “What did you say?” Ho-Dong asks. Min-Ho repeats what Soo-Geun said. “You should take medicine for a reason,” Ho-Dong tell him off. Soo-Geun rubs it in even more, eats another in front of Ho-Dong. “I feel pain.”

In the kitchen, Ho-Dong announces that they aren’t qualified to get sick. “Yet you got muscle spasms yesterday,” Soo-Geun says. Ho-Dong laughs. Soo-Geun asks how Min-Ho is doing. “I’m holding up, Hyung!” If he finds it difficult, Soo-Geun tells him to figure it out himself (“since you should do it anyway,” a caption reads).

Min-Ho concentrates on washing dishes. Ho-Dong comes by and looks around him. “Do you need help?” Ho-Dong asks Min-Ho. Min-Ho looks up, not hearing his words. “Should I help?” Ho-Dong asks again. Min-Ho says he is doing fine. So Ho-Dong retreats.

 

A voice is heard calling for Ho-Dong twice, screaming. “One more time, and Ho-Dong Hyung will really go outside,” Jae-Hyeon says. “I’ll catch you!” Ho-Dong says. But there is no more calling for Ho-Dong. Ho-Dong thinks, from the tone of voice, the caller sounds younger then him. “Probably an elementary schoolboy,” Jae-Hyeon says. Ho-Dong gets hyped up.

Public Service Announcement

The Power explains that this is a long school holiday period that parents are dreading. Elementary schoolchildren viewers are advised not to do dangerous things, such as shouting ‘Ho-Dong-ah!’

Ho-Dong still wonders if the caller is a big guy.

 

A group of customers including cute little girls come and take the table nearest to counter. Ho-Dong makes faces for the girl. The girl looks unimpressed.

“This delicious Ahjeossi will give you A Cheonhajangsa donkatsu,” Ho-Dong says and goes to the kitchen. “Delicious Ahjeossi?” Everyone laughs. Soo-Geun asks forgiveness from the customers. “It’s been a long time since he received Korean lessons.” (A caption reads “Ho-Dong, still learning Korean language”)

“What’s wrong with you today?” Ji-Won asks Ho-Dong, concerned. Min-Ho thinks it’s because it’s lunch time. Ho-Dong says it’s the side effect of an empty stomach. Ji-Won laughs. Min-Ho takes pictures of him preparing donkatsu. Still laughing, Ji-Won questions if there is such thing as side effect of an empty stomach.

(Yes, there is. A caption reads, “for example, leaving a donkatsu frying unattended.”) As Ho-Dong turns back to the frying pan, he is shocked at it and immediately turns the donkatsu around, preventing it from getting burned.

Ji-Won sounds unintelligible as well when he tells Min-Ho that the soup bowls should have room (여유). “What? No room for soup bowls?” Ji-Won mentions ‘extra space’ repeatedly.

Everyone seems to be afflicted by empty stomach syndrome. This calls for break time.

The Last Lunch

Ho-Dong prepares ramyeon for employees lunch. He brings the pot to the Hall. He calls everyone to sit down on the floor, away from customers’ eyes, and eat.

The usual staff meal of a typical diner

Ji-Won and Soo-geun eat while still staying alert for their customers. Soo-Geun starts talking about customers reacting to the huge portion of the menu. “‘Can I eat all?’ they say,” he says. They talk about eating and talking, and them placing order as a customer, which was frowned upon by the Headquaters (Na PD).

“Where is the Headquarters?” Soo-Geun asks. Ji-Won cares not. “Other than us, aren’t they all (the production crews) ‘headquarters’ (본사)?” They are all ‘본 사람’, people who see them. Rice is added to the soup and they eat in silence.

Suddenly Soo-Geun gets up and addresses the customers. “Just tell us if you need anything,” he says. One of them asks for another drink. He tells Ji-Won, who’s about to get up, to sit down. He fetches the drink. “I’ve got great timing, right?” Soo-Geun says. He goes out to serve the drink.

Their lunch comes to an end.

Near the dish-washing corner, Min-Ho is shredding cabbages. While putting on gloves, Ho-Dong tells Min-Ho not to do dish-washing after having meal, for he’ll do it. “Really?” Min-Ho is surprised. “Aren’t you touched? Don’t cry,” Ho-Dong says.

While at it, Min-Ho brings more dishes to wash. “These too, please,” he says. Jae-Hyeon too brings a cutting board, which Ho-Dong accepts. But he questions Min-Ho’s plates. “Didn’t you say you’d do dish-washing?” Ho-Dong just shrughs. “Oh, well,” he will clean them too.

A new dish-washer

“This is nothing to be impressed about,” Ho-Dong insists as if they must have been impressed. He usually does washing dishes.

Five minutes before break time is over, Ho-Dong still insists that he really does dish-washing at home. “These days, if you don’t do it, you’ll get kicked out,” he says. He is still washing dishes and Min-Ho is still shredding cabbages.

He tells Min-Ho about yesterday’s Ssireum group coming to their restaurant, “twelve elementary schoolchildren.”

“And you pay for all of them?” Min-Ho asks. Ho-Dong just smiles and says, “swag!” It’s a topic he likes talking about that when Jae-Hyeon asks if Ho-Dong really does the dishes, the smile vanishes and cold wind blows. Min-Ho laughs.

“Is this a future broadcast?” Jae-Hyeon asks. Ho-Dong is energised. “Yeah. (Washing dishes is) The Future Variety!”

But, break time is over. They get ready for the second half of the last day.

 

The Final Hours

Ji-Won welcomes new customers and all of a sudden, the Hall is full. “They all come at once,” Soo-Geun comments.

If Ji-Won engages in one on one conversation to explain the donkatsus’ sizes, Soo-Geun holds a court and talks about everything that it takes him five minutes, on average, to take order. Ji-Won, who observes him, just smiles and then suggests Soo-Geun record the talks. “And let customer play it as guide to the menu,” Soo-Geun says, laughing. Indeed, explaining menu each time a customer asks is tiring. “I was so thirsty yesterday,” Soo-Geun says, “and I didn’t even go to a karaoke.”

(But he did sing in the car when he went out shopping. That should count as a self-karaoke.)

A talkative Hall staff and his manager

“You do know what I mean, right?” Soo-Geun tells Ji-Won. “I’ve still got a sore throat.” Ji-Won asks if he gets the order. “Of course,” Soo-Geun says. He sticks it on the kitchen’s order board.

 

The kitchen gets busy. Ho-Dong prepares a donkatsu and Min-Ho tears ramyeon packs. Ho-Dong likes the meat he’s working on. He fries it. “Too large,” he says when he tries to take it. Soo-Geun brings the donkatsu to the customers who are surprised by the size. They welcome and git it an applause.

Next are Jae-Hyeon’s omurice and ramyeon. Soo-Geun bring them to customers. Then the food just rolls out of the kitchen.

“This is for the third (table),” Ho-Dong says as he puts a donkatsu. “That’s for the fourth table,” Ji-Won overrides him as Soo-Geun brings it to the customers. A little girl at the fourth table notices the heart shape on the salad. Mum likes the taste of the donkatsu. Dad likes the taste of the ramyeon soup.

Ji-Won tells Ho-Dong about the customers’s reactions to the ramyeon, how everyone just loves it. The ‘신’ in it must have been part of being sincere (되신). “That’s the power of words,” Ho-Dong says. “It must be because Chef Baek Jong-Won really teaches well,” Ji-Won says, deflating Ho-Dong’s praise bubble. Ho-Dong just tells him to be quiet.

In the Hall, Soo-Geun complains about the pain in his legs. Ji-Won tells him to sit for a moment but Soo-Geun goes on to work on the kimbab for the set menu orders. (A caption reads “a slave who won’t stop until the end.”) Soo-Geun cuts a roll of kimbab and comments that the its ends feel different now. It doesn’t cause him trouble. “Why should I be moved by this!” Soo-Geun tells himself off.

An obedient roll of kimbab…

In the kitchen, Ho-Dong wonders aloud if he should get one ramyeon done. Soo-Geun asks him to continue for there is another ramyeon set in order. Min-Ho also registers a donkatsu and ramyeon order and suggests Ho-Dong goes multi-cooking mode. Ho-Dong laughs at the sudden interferences. But he says, “fighting!”

Jae-Hyeon worries about the eggs left. Min-Ho says there is still a little left. After a while, Min-Ho gets eggs from the fridge. Ho-Dong and Min-Ho break the eggs on to a bowl. Ho-Dong teaches him how to break egg faster with without letting the shell in. In the end, Ho-Dong keeps doing it. “What’s with me today?” Ho-Dong questions himself for he isn’t into these sort of things. Min-Ho notes that he’s almost done breaking all eggs.

Min-Ho takes the bowl of eggs, picks a hand mixer, and starts mixing the eggs. Ho-Dong comes and, again, takes it over. He shows Min-Ho how to mix eggs properly. (A caption reads “talent discovery on the last day of business”) Next, while Min-Ho is polishing the plates with napkin, Ho-Dong comes over, takes a napkin and a plate, and begins polish it.

 

A toddler escapes the Hall to freedom. He walks to the front porch. Ji-Won, who is standing outside, catches him. Ji-Won approaches the toddler and asks where he’s going. He coaxes the boy to take his hand and return to the Hall, to find Mum. (A caption reads “the children-friendly Hall Manager”) Ji-Won is then seen handing out coffees to customers from a window. (“… is actually a barista. Customers, leaving the restaurant, are wrapped in the scent of coffee.”)

 

While washing dishes in the kitchen, Ho-Dong draws attention to the beautiful sunset that is coming soon. When it’s finally there, the three look through the window. “That is so cool,” Min-Ho says.

The last day’s sunset…

 

Meanwhile, Soo-Geun brings in their last customers.

The Last Customers and The Last Orders

At the table nearest to the kitchen is a middle-aged couple. The man recognises Min-Ho as the one whose finger makes this spin-off happen. Soo-Geun asks if they live in Jeju. “No,” the man says, they’ve been travelling for a month now. He retired at the end of August. They travel to fulfil his wife’s wishes. They order one of each item in the menu.

The kitchen prepares the last order. Min-Ho takes the last sheet of meat. “This is the best shaped sheet of meat,” he says. He coats it with the flour. “The last flour,” Mi-Ho says.

Ho-Dong fries the donkatsu and then finishes the plating. “Please be delicious,” he says.

Soo-geun brings the last donkatsu to the couple with a bit of theatrics. “The theme of this donkatsu is,” he says, “Parent’s Day!” Forgetting all sufferings by eating something delicious. Ho-Dong expresses gratitude from the kitchen.

Jae-Hyeon cooks the last omelette for the last omurice. “As always, the last one turns out really well,” he says. He feels good to have fisnished his job.

The last orders…

Soo-Geun brings it to the couple. He asks them to eat slowly. Their ramyeon order will come out soon. At another table, a customer asks for tissues. “The red or the blue ones?” Soo-Geun jokingly asks. It’s a topic in embossing. From the counter, Ji-Won laughs. (“Unchanging service until the end.”)

Ji-Won asks if Soo-Geun is aware of the ballpoint behind his head. Soo-Geun is aware of course, but there were times when he forgot it. (A caption reads “a workaholic.”)

In the kitchen, Ho-Dong prepares the last ramyeon. He lets out a long sigh. Min-Ho takes a picture of him and remarks that he looks sad. “Don’t cry,” Ho-Dong begins the chant. Min-Ho follows. The chants attract Soo-Geun, asking if Jae-Hyeon is crying. The ramyeon is ready. “I did my best,” Ho-Dong says.

Soo-Geun brings the ramyeon to the couple in the Hall, this being his last time serving food. For once, he doesn’t forget to bring along chopsticks.

The last customers…

The man coaxes his wife to eat more. Jae-Hyeon goes out to greet them, asking whether the meals are good. “Of course,” the man says. He compliments the skill and effort put in the food. “I do like cooking,” Jae-Hyeon says.

In the kitchen, Jae-Hyeon regrets that there are still a lot of material left. Ho-Dong, who is washing dishes, says he sounds so sad and lonely. “We will not cry, right?” Ho-Dong says. Jae-Hyeon agrees. But Ho-Dong looks ready to cry.

 

Their last customers finally leave. “Please live a long life and be healthy!” Soo-Geun sends them off.

 

In the kitchen, Ho-Dong insists that no one should shed a tear. “Don’t frown either!” He tells them off. No one is crying. Jae-Hyeon suspects Ho-Dong is trying hard not to. Min-Ho thinks so too. And they tease him about it.

 

 

The Verdict

It’s the scene from the beginning of the first episode, the five of them sitting around a table. Soo-Geun asks them to “beat” each other’s back today — this prompts laughter for a pat would be too weak to massage tired muscles — and say “you’ve done well.” Min-Ho realises they won’t be coming to Kang’s Kitchen again.

“How do you feel now?” Ho-Dong asks Song-finger, this being his doing. Soo-Geun says it wouldn’t feel bad even if they got the car. Min-Ho says he feels stunned and strange.

For a while, they are all quiet. Ji-Won tries to find the right words. Having been in the entertainment for long, and doing many things, “it finally comes to doing this,” he says. (A caption reads “this is more than just an experience”) Min-Ho looks at him quizzically. (A caption reads “soon it will be your destiny”)

Na PD comes in through the door. “Na-No-nim, you too have worked hard,” Soo-Geun says. Ho-Dong tells Na PD that the ending feels good.

Soo-Geun brings up the next ‘New Journey to the West’ and that they will surely eat and make sure to eat meat. “We only need a hammer,” Ji-Won says.

Ho-Dong brings up the feeling of being the hyung who knows better yet regretting that he should’ve done better and worked harder. “Do you know the feeling?” Ho-Dong asks. Soo-Geun says they all think that way too.

Ho-Dong prepares another point but that should wait until next time…

What to say?

Ho-Dong goes on and on about not boasting (but he is) about a compromise he made so they could enjoy the sea that morning. “That was something you wanted to do as well,” Soo-Geun says. Soo-Geun had enough enjoying the sea while going shopping to town every day. Ji-Won and Ho-Dong laugh. Still, Ho-Dong think they all should go since it was part of “welfare”.

They then realise Min-Ho wasn’t there. Min-Ho gives them pointed look, “so that was just for ‘New Journey to the West’ season 2’s members only.”

Jae-Hyeon brings up their debt. “How much do we owe?” Soo-Geun tells Na PD that if they score a plus and there is a season two of Kang’s Kitchen, it should be about cooking squid on stone somewhere on the national highway.

“Where there are chickens,” Ho-Dong adds. They can do it on a food truck, grilling chickens. “We should do samgyetang,” Ji-Won says. Soo-Geun coins a name Kang-sye-cha. (Kang’s car wash?)

Min-Ho reminds Soo-Geun not to speak carelessly.

Summing Up

Na PD finally reads their result. He starts with their spending costs. He notes that even on the first night, they spent a quite amount. The members listens with increasing unease as the amount they owe grows bigger.

Na PD then lists their sales from day 0. Their first day wasn’t impressive as they earned a little and fought a lot. Their second day was better with a number surpassing the day’s spending. They continue listening with anticipation.

Kang’s Kitchen’s Result

Wait! That’s a wrong number!

Day – (₩) + (₩)
0 650,000 0
1 645,100 230,700
2 519,500 780,300
3 573,800 910,200
4 522,200 850,800
5 508,600 754,900
Σ 3,419,200 3,526,900

In the end, they manage to score a plus, + ₩107,700. Divided evenly among them, each gets ₩ 21,540. Jae-Hyeon draws attention to Kang’s Kitchen’s menu. “That’s not even enough to buy a Kang-Ho-Dong-katsu!” He says. Kang-Ho-Dong-katsu is sold at ₩ 21,800.

As the closing credit sequence is rolling, with a happy song from a kdrama romcom, Na PD gives the money to Ho-Dong. They play around for a little while.

Not enough for a Kang-Ho-Dong-katsu!

 

What’s Next…

Next episode will include the spin-offs extras (including ‘Winner’s Youth Over Flower’), a close look at Eun Coffee House, various customers’ voices (and reasons for Jae-Hyeon not coming out of the kitchen), and the promised two hour karaoke session.

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