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Yoon Doo Joon is the only returning cast member, which I had mixed emotions about at first, but since Dae Yeong's food appreciation is still what drives the show, I didn't miss the old cast for long. He's just as weird and quirky as he was in the original, with his signature food rants, and charming knowing smile. This time he is matched with Seo Hyun Jin, who immediately made me forget about the previous leading lady (sorry Soo Kyung but it was time to move on lol). My bias may come from how much I loved her in Another Miss Oh, but with her own stand out quirkiness, her portrayal of Soo Ji is the ideal match for Dae Yeong. So with these two leads, I felt like the romance in this version was much stronger. Of course they also share a true love of food... duh, but their chemistry, even away from a plate of food, was super strong. I was a fan of their food banter, and their friendship.
Like the first one, there is also a new strong ensemble cast, including a new dog. The major difference is that the theme of loneliness and depression in this town is much darker, so the characters aren't as fun. There are still a lot of funny moments, and this is still mainly a comedy, it just has less of a feeling of optimism and discovery than the first one did. These ensemble characters are also much messier. They are petty, they curse, they're self destructive, they're manipulative, they drink too much, they lash out... this also makes them a little more realistic. Watching them bond and create friendship is also similar to the original, but don't expect the same light heartedness.
The only character that I didn't like very much was Kwon Yool as Lee Sang Woo. It's not that he's bad in the role, just... well... kinda boring. I know kdrama romance usually thrives on a love triangle, and in theory this one brings up some interesting dilemmas and dynamics, but he's such a bland choice that it was too easy to not care about or root for him. Even his friendship with Dae Yeong seemed a bit forced, but his social awkwardness also added to the character so I'm torn. I did like that the love triangle seemed less about who would get the girl, and more about each character's self discovery. There's a lot of self reflection in this drama that I appreciated.
Another formula that the show sticks to is an unnecessary thriller element. The mystery in this version worked better than in the first version, but that's not saying much. It still felt very contrived, and like just an excuse to add drama to the characters' lives. Don't even get me started on the older woman neighbor... who had me yelling "mind your own damn business" at the screen multiple times. I don't want to mention any of the details at all, to avoid any spoilers, but it's definitely a weak point for the drama, with a lazy resolution.
Let's eat 2 still absolutely lives up to the title, with gluttonous food scenes, expanding beyond Korean food more often, and inspiring food appreciation.
I think I started to get used to the extreme eating close ups, because they started to feel normal, and it felt like there were less food scenes, but those waiting for these moments won't be disappointed.
Overall, the formula may not be perfect, but it kept me interested enough to binge watch 2 seasons back to back. That says a lot! Would I watch this again? Maybe. In some ways I enjoyed this one more, but I don't feel compelled to watch it again. I would probably only watch this again as part of a set with Season 1, to get my Dae Yeong fix.
While I still can't claim to be a fan of food-centered shows, I would recommend this one, and will definitely be one of the first people at the table to check out Let's Eat season 3.
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