Chu is a widower, dictatorial father, and master chef. His
taste buds no longer work and he relies on his assistant Wen
to tell him whether a dish is eye-watering or mouth-watering.
All three of his daughters still live at home, much to their
dismay. Jia-Jen his eldest daughter is a schoolteacher and
seems quite content to stay at home. Jia-Chen his second
daughter has just sunk all of her money in an apartment so
that she can move out; she is a successful executive at an
airline. Jia-Ning is his youngest daughter and works at a
Wendy's. Every Sunday Chu insists that they sit down for a
Sunday dinner. Jia-Chen describes them as their "Sunday
torture." Despite the anger that fills their house they
all love one another and care for each other deeply. They
"communicate by eating"; indeed the dinner table is
the only place where they truly communicate. With the words
"I have an announcement," Jia-Ning tells him that
she is moving in with her boyfriend because they are in love,
but "mostly because I am carrying his baby." Later
in the film while Chu is cutting up a dish with a hatchet, Jia-Jen
says, "I have an announcement," and proceeds to tell
everyone that she is married. She then runs outside and drags
in her new husband. The camera pans to a hilarious scene in
which Chu is just staring at the husband while holding a
hatchet. No matter what happens in this family, the dinner
table is where they connect and share their feelings.
is a wonderful food movie: spectacular meals and food scenes
are always just moments away in this film. While the opening
credits appear the viewer is treated to watching Chu beginning
to prepare a Sunday dinner. He keeps live fish in a clay jar
so that they are fresh; he also raises his own chickens.
Something as simple as cutting vegetables is turned into art.
Watching him pull out Peking duck is almost unbearable to
watch if there is no food around. This film will also leave
you craving dumplings, something that he fixes at almost all
of his Sunday dinners. In another scene Jia-Chen and her
friend are drinking tea. First she pours boiling water into a
pitcher containing tea leaves, after a minute she then pours
the tea into her cup but leaves the small tea pot resting in
her cup for a minute to drain. It is this attention to detail
that makes this movie a wonderful food film. The plot is much
better than A WALK IN THE CLOUDS; however, it can not quite
rival BIG NIGHT for substance, but it is still well written.
The only other film that rivals the preparation, presentation,
and consumption of food is BABETTE'S FEAST.
In an early scene,
Master Chef Chu (Sihung Lung) takes little neighbour Shanshan
her lunch box at elementary school with her favourite bitter
melon soup--but it's in the final scene that his critical
taste for soup shows his recovered zest for life:
wrong?" Jia-Chien (Chien-Lien Wu) says.
"Nothing, it's delicious. Yet..."
"Too much ginger. Too much, and its effect is
"I disagree. It's not too much. This is Mother's
recipe...and you complained way back then. You're too timid
"I'm certainly not."
"Don't boss me around."
"I'm not. It was a minor criticism about a slight taste
of too much ginger...a taste..."
"Yes? A taste...?"
"Jia-Chien, your soup..."
"What about my soup?"
"Your soup, Jia-Chien...I taste it. I can taste it."
"You can taste?"
"I taste it. Some more, please. Daughter."