Song Yu Die, a renowned chef in the Jiangnan area, was actually a lost Song Dynasty princess. She grew up among the commoners and learned her trade from her adoptive mother. Just when she was about to marry her childhood sweetheart, she got entangled in a warfare between a Song prince and a Jin general. To settle the conflicts between the two countries, she left her beloved to marry her country's enemy.
Cast & Credits
STORY: The synopsis, although it is correct, had me confused while watching because the marriage to the leader of the rivaling country does not happen until the last portion of the drama. And I mean last. I literally watched 40 episodes and the marriage still hadn't happened yet. Everything seemed to get jumbled together in the final episodes which is something that I do not care for as a viewer, especially when I'm watching a drama that is 50 episodes long. When I read the synopsis, I was under the impression that the marriage was going to happen sometime in the beginning or the middle of the story, and maybe show how she managed to thrive as a chef and survive living amongst the enemy, all while watching her first love fight to save her, but I was very wrong (lol).
The story itself was familiar, with a royal having a birth secret and living as a commoner since childhood, as well as having a childhood sweetheart. The nice twist to this story is that Yu Die is a fantastic chef thanks to the talent of her adoptive mother and throughout the drama, she is cooking delicious food as she journeys through the country after an unfortunate event separates her from her adoptive family. Through her experiences and after spending time at the palace with the royal prince, whom she had met before, she eventually comes to learn her true identity as a royal princess. While I was interested in how/if her adoptive mother and her lover Li Ma would find her again, there was a lot of scheming both in the palace and at war between the rivaling countries that seemed to make up a good portion of the story. And of course a lot of cooking scenes which isn't helpful when you're hungry (lol). After so many episodes of the same thing, I started to lose interest and eventually stopped watching this drama for quite awhile before picking it up again. I really wanted to like this drama, especially since I loved the cast, but that was not enough to hold my interest. The way it ended was odd to me as well, I think they could've executed a better closing had they not crammed all the action to the final 10 episodes.
ACTING/CAST: I love both Zheng Shuang and Ma Tian Yu and was excited to see them together as main leads, but I can honestly say that this wasn't a stand-out drama for either of them. I believe they were in a previous drama together in the past as potential love interests, but I haven't watched it so I can't compare their performances. In this drama though, I wasn't able to get invested into the romantic relationship between their characters because most of the time they were separated. The characters would long for each other, but when they'd see each other, they would only hug and seemed a bit distant at times, which made me feel they had more a friend/sibling relationship rather than one of lovers. But they did look very cute together during their scenes. What I did like about Yu Die though is that she was persistent with her love for Li Ma, even after becoming royalty. Li Ma's character was different, in a sense that he seemed to feel unworthy of her love after learning about her birth secret even though he still loved her. Overall I did enjoy seeing how their love story played out. Steven Jiang played his part well as a royal and I liked how his character showed a different kind of love and affection for Yu Die. At times I felt like he had more chemistry with Zheng Shuang than Ma Tian Yu, but it might've also been because he had more screen time with her. This was my first time seeing him in a drama and his performance left a good impression.
MUSIC: There were only a few ost songs played and they were decent, but most of the time traditional instrumentals were used. Sometimes all you need are nice instrumentals to help carry the story of historical dramas and this was one of those cases.
REWATCH VALUE: I don't think I would sit down and watch this drama again even if it was fully subbed because I felt like it was too long . I don't think it needed to be 50 episodes, especially with the way they crammed everything together at the end. There are better historical dramas out there and I didn't feel there was anything that made this drama stand out on its own to set it apart from other dramas with similar themes. Fans of Zheng Shuang, Ma Tian Yu, and Steven Jiang might enjoy this, but they have other works that are more superior both story-wise and performance-wise. Nevertheless, it was still a decent watch and I'm still glad I decided to check it out.