First Impressions on the Sticky Sweet Cuteness that is Fondant Garden

People. I hereby decree that Fondant Garden must be watched. This is the drama that’s pulled me out of my drama slump and period novel fascination. After a slew of meh to ehhh dramas, who knew that a totally under the radar TW idol drama from the godmother of TW idol dramas (Producer Angie Cai) would hit me that hard with the cuteness and sweetness double whammy. FG premiered last Friday on CTV, a pretty dead time slot, though it did yield the ratings bonanza that was The Fierce Wife last year around this time.

FG has started off with a great first impression from the fans but super low ratings of .61. I think this is a bona fide TW idol drama that blends the usual combination of great character chemistry and interactions with easy breezy situational comedy. Paired with a fantabulous leading lady in Jian Man Shu (this girl, she’s going place, and I’ve been eyeing her since she got a Golden Bell Best Actress nomination for The Year of the Rain), watching FG is like eating delicious airy bon bons. But be forewarned that I’m already all over the alterna-shipping of the heroine Mi En with second male lead Han Xiang played by Kingone Wang. OMG, swooning forever for their chemistry.

FG is about as typical a TW-drama as it can get, with a Korean twist. SS501‘s Park Jung Min plays Park Hee Hwan, a Korean-Taiwanese (his grandmother is Taiwanese but he grew up in Korea) second generation chaebol heir who is cheerful and carefree and just wants to enjoy his life and not have to take over the family business. Jian Man Shu is Cheng Mi En, a talented young patissier who has lost both her parents and finds herself running the bakery her father founded. Kingone Wang is Yen Han Xiang, Hee Hwan’s cousin who runs the family business division in Taiwan and is a little annoyed that younger cousin is uninterested in taking over the business yet might inherit over him. Lia Lee is Chen Ai Lin, the daughter of the owner of a pastry conglomerate in Taiwan and also Mi En’s college best friend.

Turns out Ai Lin invested money in Mi En’s bakery to keep it afloat, but in turn Mi En has been baking goods for Ai Lin to pass off as her own creations since their school days. Ai Lin isn’t a bad person, she’s just always looking for the easy way out and her scruples aren’t very high. But she doesn’t think anyone gets hurt by this little charade, and she is genuinely wanting to help her friend Mi En out. Episode 1 starts with Ai Lin getting entered into a cake competition in Korea because her family thinks she’s an excellent patissier, so she drags Mi En along with her to the competition since Ai Lin can’t bake worth squat. At the airport, Ai Lin spots Han Xiang, who she has been crushing on since college.

In Korea, Mi En has cute and successive run ins with Han Xiang and Hee Hwan. In particular, the first meeting between Mi En and Han Xiang is so perfect I have no words. Ai Lin has ditched Mi En to go shopping, so Mi En goes to have some samgetang. The restaurant is packed, so when Han Xiang arrives, the owner asks if he can sit at the same table as Mi En. She thinks he’s Korean so when Ai Lin calls her, they proceed to talk in Chinese about him and it’s the cutest thing ever. Afterwards, they have this totally wordless meal where Han Xiang shows Mi En how to eat the array of dishes that came with the meal, and then he pays for her afterwards. After he reveals he’s Taiwanese as well, he walks her back to the hotel. She’s so adorably nervous and when he introduces himself to her, she’s a little sad he didn’t ask her name. He reveals that he can’t know who she is, because she revealed she’s here for the cake competition, and he happens to be a judge.

Turns out Hee Hwan is being forced on matseon after matseon, so he finally gets fed up and decides to book it. During his cute run in with Mi En, and later Ai Lin, he finds out they are Taiwanese. He reveals his Taiwanese heritage and his longing to visit since he’s never been. For some reason, Hee Hwan finds Mi En super adorable (don’t we all), and I love how he’s genuinely so charmed by her. Episode 1 had most of the action in Korea, but it looks to be set in Taiwan for the most part as all the characters head there soon. Park Jung Min speaks his own Korean lines, but he’s dubbed in Chinese, as his character is fluent in both languages. The dub is actually pretty decent, once you get over the slight disconnect knowing its two different voices. It’s not jarring, and actually makes it feel as kooky as his silly character is.

The drama is so breezy, has a delightfully catchy OST, and the acting ranges from decent to solid. Park Jung Min isn’t the best actor for this role (I keep picturing Donghae, who is just killing it as Shang in Skip Beat right now, in his limited screentime), but he’s trying so hard and I do find him harmless to watch. Kingone has the worst hairstyle I’ve ever seen on him, but I adore his character and his chemistry with Jian Man Shu is pitch perfect. Lia Lee is actually an adorable second female lead that I don’t hate, and her acting is nice to watch. Its leading lady Jian Man Shu that I give the most props to. She’s like a Rainie Yang who doesn’t mug, with shades of young Ariel Lin. I simply love her. I enjoyed episode 1 so much I’ve seen it twice, and am totally looking forward to episode 2 this Friday.

Preview for episode 1 (English subbed):

Preview for episode 2:

The title cards reads as thus.

She: the real Mi En, the fake Ai Lin, the real champion.

He (referring to Kingone’s character): fell in love with the fake Ai Lin.

He (referring to Park Jung Min’s character): fell in love with the real Mi En.

A really hard triangle problem to solve.

Opening Credits (SO CUTE):



First Impressions on the Sticky Sweet Cuteness that is Fondant Garden — 48 Comments

    • I know right? Why is Kingone always playing second lead? And especially second lead to Rainie Yang (see: Why why love, devil beside you, drunken to love you). I mean, how weird is it that 10 years after he first played second lead to Rainie Yang, he’s STILL playing second lead to her???

      • I couldn’t get to watching Drunken to Love You because I can’t bear to see him not end up with Rainie again. If there ever was a drama starring Rainie and KingOne, I would be all over it. He did manage to play the lead in the movie, Love 50%

        I haven’t watched Fondant Garden yet, but does it have the same feel as Sweet Relationship?

      • I watched all three. Was really disappointed when I saw him again in DTLY as the 2nd lead (to make it worse he was like floating in and out of the series when they brought in Xiao Gui XD).

        Glad to hear that he snagged a leading role in a movie. Would love to see him as the lead in a drama after this. 🙂

  1. I watched this last saturday only because I like Jian Man Shu and Wang Quan Yi and I must admit, began watching with the thought of “not another typical frothy Taiwanese idol drama with a sub-par storyline and so-so acting with godawful dubbing” especially when i saw the over-cuteness factor of the opening sequence. But I was really pleasantly surprised. The story has enough of originality to make it refreshing from the normal formulaic idol drama recipe. Acting by all 4 leads were on the level. Jian Man Shu was pitch perfect in her role managing to give a refreshing take on the typical sweet/cute female heroine character by shying away from overplaying the cuteness factor that would normally make me gag. She was really natural and her acting was really unaffected. Great stuff. The Korean actor also pulled in a decent performance. I cannot wait for the next episode.

    Jian man shu has a long acting career ahead of her, loved her debut drama of 2010.

  2. Mrs Koala, i’m so glad you got hooked on this one (hehe an accomplice of addiction). I saw first ep and was sucked in. The yummy opening (i want that giant sugar cane !), the funny (what language is actually spoken by each character, very clever). PJM reminds me of the reluctant boss of PTB, and this role fits him like a glove. And i love Kingone : He looks koreanized with that hair. I think i’m going to rewatch it too.
    @sunshower3 : you can find it at viki, dramacrazy and sugoii i think. Welcome aboard !

  3. Didn’t know Jung Min was doing a drama!! He is fun to watch (I mean, his real life persona). I can picture him in the character you described. Silly, but charming. I’ve seen Kingone way a lot times but can never really ‘like’ him with lead (I guess, it has more to do with Mike He than him, hehe).

    Sidenote: I’m totally loving Donghae as Shang. I think he is doing a pretty good job! Too bad, he’s MIA. it would be so awesome if they did the valentines day arc..

  4. Yey! Another Taiwanese drama to get excited about ^^ But, OMG, really? Is there some sort of rule in Taiwan that once a second-lead, always a second lead? Kingone T^T

  5. My friend told me to check it out last week after she saw the premiere. I was relunctant to start yet another drama with dubbed Korean lead(s) but the opening is so cute! And Park Jung Min doesn’t bother me as I thought he would (based on the opening).
    And then I see Prince Turned into Frog’s chaeol-amnesia-and-becomes-pauper, really never enjoyed that ><
    I think I will wait for more eps to be out to see.

    • He doesn’t have anmesia. He pretends he does so he can glom onto Mi En and because he’s homeless and needs a place to crash in Taiwan.

      • Just watched both eps over at Viki. Why do you think he’s faking amnesia? He got slammed with a fry pan, passes out and gets a CAT scan showing damage and bruising to his ‘memory lobe’ (for want of a better description). One of the last scenes in ep 2 shows
        MJ looking at a pic of the cake contest winner and his father – but it wasn’t clear if this jogged his memory. Did we miss something in the translations? Otherwise, for now I don’t think he’s faking.

    • At first he really got amnesia but when his head hit the sofa’s handle in the little hotel room, he remembered everything but didn’t say anything to Mi En.

  6. Saw you raving about this drama in the comments section of a prior blog post and I know I just have to check it out! Especially now that I’ve got more background info on this sucker…

    I can already tell that I’m going to be a second-male lead shipper than a first-male lead one. I’ve only watched the above vids but I’m already loving the chemistry between Kingone Wang and Jian Man Shu!

    I have a feeling I’m going to hate Park Jung Min in this role. He seems way too out of place, and that’s just the poster shots. For some reason, he looks like he’s got way too much make-up on that he looks more like a drag queen from the neck up… maybe it’s the smile or the eye make-up. I hope that he won’t have as much make-up in the drama or have his hair completely made-up that it looks like he’s supposed to entering a pageant in drag rather than play a male lead.

  7. Kyaah.. so cute. I wanna watch. Problem is, I’m already watching Inborn pair without subtitle. Is anyone subbing this? Plus I love Kingone even if it sucks to be him coz he’s always second lead. :))

  8. I actually started with Love Forward and loved ep 1 of that. But I heard that FG was really cute too so on Monday, I checked it out. Crap – I’m hooked… the cuteness of all the leads just caught me. The idol boy (SS501??) is ok – I think in true twdrama fashion – he is definitely passable and delightfully cute in his role… really hams it up in ep 1.

    I really agree with you on Kingone hairstyle.. omg – my first thought was greasy!! And then i thought, maybe they want to give him a more grown up look? Then I thought – I guess he has grown up already! Then back to… dang, that is a very bad look for him. His “conversations” with Mi En is just too cute at the restaurant and outside of it.

    JMS is really cute here too 🙂 I think this is my first drama seeing her. Anyhow – I am looking forward to ep 2. Sometimes, I can’t read the chinese subtitles fast enough when they speak Korean… need to brush up! Btw – I watched episode one more than a few times… and way more than I care to admit. I keep trying to following Skip Beat – and the last ep was ok… but it just needs more of the 3 leads in scenes together.

    I too was in a period drama high for about 9-10 months. Still in it… but I have been trying to follow (modern ones) SB, PCAP and now LF and FG. I dropped OG in the middle somewhere and eventually will have to go back finish it but I don’t really have a desire to at the moment.

  9. Yes, we got sucked in, too, at the LW household … thanks to ‘Sexy Charisma’ and my one daughter’s preternatural attraction to the SS501 member … but will be staying with this because of the over-cute.

  10. This looks fun and an easy watch. I think I’ll give the first episode a whirl to see if its my cup of tea with extra sugar cubes.

    Mrs K have you watched LOVE? If so are you going to have something on it? I recently caught it on a weekend trip away and would love to have a venue to discuss the movie.

  11. Koala, question… Are you going to be recapping this? Coz I (and I’m sure others, as well) would be so grateful!

    It’s one thing to watch the drama, but it’s quite another read a koala recap and rant and rave about it every week!

  12. I checked this out because of Kingone Wang. <3 My favorite part was the restaurant! It was absolutely hilarious! But I have mixed feelings about the drama. It's pretty obvious that Jian Man Shu is going to end up with Jung Ming. I'm tired of seeing Kingone as second lead who never ends up with the main girl. ='( And I don't really like Jung Ming's acting so…

  13. Haven’t yet watched this, but I’ve seen the opening title and omg just based on that alone I love it! haha its soooo cute, I found myself smiling and giggling my way through it. Best opening sequence I’ve probably seen in any drama, and I think it really clues the viewer into the premise of the story. Kingone and Jungmin repeatedly trying to thwart each other to get the girl is so funny.

  14. Hmmm… I don’t know about your tastes… or if your period ordeal is over… but a good period drama that I found was Hou Gong: Zhen Huan Zhuan (后宫甄嬛传). I like it and was wondering if you had seen/heard of it before…

    It’s good but it’s a disillusioned-with-love-and-life-in-general/evil good. I thought this different take was really refreshing and helpful if you are trying to get over an obsession with a couple or something… It’s powered by Sun Li and an entire cast of surprising talents… and from I am able to gather it’s based of a popular Chinese online novel as well… but they had to change the setting and crap to put out this drama… I guess another down side would be the terri-bad length of this behemoth… DX… so bad for you… but worth it… imo

    Also, I had a hard time trying to find a place that had all the episodes when I watched it. This site seems to have everything if you’re interested.

  15. FG is so good! I watched the samgetang scene at least 5X. It was absolutely perfect! I never heard any news about this drama and was quite surprised when I saw it on sugoideas last week. It’s hard to believe that a tw drama starring kingone, JMS, and a big korean idol would go under the radar. Can’t wait til tmw’s episode!

  16. I never thought that FG would be that good! It’s like finding a fresh and cute taste in all the dramas these days! I found myself laughing and kept wanting more for the cuteness! This is the first time that i don’t care if the first female lead is going to end with either the 1st or 2nd male lead. Jiang Man Shu is totally lovable and not overacted like some of the female leads in TW. I, too wish that Donghae would be the main lead..

  17. I watched this yesterday at VIKI. My favorite part was when she was in the restaurant with Kingone & her friend who is fluent in Korean prompted her to say “Oppa sarranghae”.

  18. I thought the drama was pretty cute but omg, the lead actor Park Jung Min annoyed me sooo much 🙁 I’ll probably skip this because of him. Not sure if it’s the acting, his make-up or the way the character was written.

  19. Just watched the first episode and really enjoyed it. Love seeing Kingone in shows. Looking forward to the rest of the season. 🙂 Thanks for the recommendation.

  20. I’ve watched too many dramas of this chaebol/devil triangle, I don’t know if I can stomach another one. Some of them end up being bland, some introduce fresh twists which become gimmicks that don’t add to the story much. But a lot of my favorite dramas are of this type, and some of them are from Angie, and I’m always up for a sweet romance.

  21. Watching for two reasons:

    1) cakes and cakes and fondant galore, i can just watch a drama just one making pretty fondant cakes….

    2) fakeout amnesia, hahaha, i love them, much better than melo real amnesias…

    But with han xiang trying to stick around mi en while thinking she is ai lin, aint he gonna discover hwan hee staying at her place? I actually dont hate ai lin, though wondering whats up with that company assistant whom her dad goaded her to marry, how many love lines is she going to have. Hope to see super a lot of fondants!!!!!!!!!!!!!! <3

  22. I just watched this because of your recommendation and it’s so cute! I’ve actually never heard of the show before today, but it was surprisingly good! I already love the lead girl – she was so adorable when she was at the restaurant and mimicking the way Kingone’s character was eating.

    I’m probably in the minority, but I’m loving Park Jung Min! His character really does have the Protect the Boss feel, and I can hardly tell when it switches between his real voice and the dubbed voice, it’s done quite well. And the behind the scenes at the end, how cute is he! I’ve never actually seen him in anything or listen to SS501, but if this is one of his first few shows, I have to say he’s doing a pretty decent job. It seems like the character he’s playing is quite close to his real life persona so I’m sure that helps.

    And what can I say about Kingone? Doomed to be the forever second lead, though he’s always fantastic at getting us to not ship the main couple. But as much as I like his chemistry with the lead girl, I’m already looking forward to how the relationship between the main couple will progress. Also, I’m really not liking the supposed best friend! It seems like she’s always throwing her money around and using it to make her friend do whatever she wants her to. She doesn’t really seem to genuinely care for her either, so I hope they’ll show more sides to her so I can buy that relationship.

  23. Omg I love this drama. Since there is no drama for me to watch at this moment so I was like wat the heck i’ll watch a twdrama. And I happen to pick this one. At 1st I didn’t have any expectations for this drama cause it look like just any twdrama. However after watching the 1st ep I was hook.

  24. park jung min looks SO MUCH like mike he at times! (case in point, the third picture posted here) just finished the second episode, and i love the chemistry between Jian Man Shu and Kingone… especially with the scarf scene… <

  25. I’m watching this and it’s so cute and I love looking at the cakes!
    does anyone know who the guy is acting as the ai lin’s suitor or potential engagement in the very first cake scene with the parents? I feel like he’s so familiar but I can’t seem to put my finger on who he is..hmm..

  26. When the drama hadn’t been broadcasted yet, I didn’t have much hope in it, even though I’m a fan of PJM. Because I hate the drama’s title [so cheesy!!!], the concept photos looked silly, they made him wear too much makeup and the plot is kind of a typical Asian drama. But it turns out to be quite good.

    There are still some illogical scenes in the drama, such as when the rear door of JM’s car flew open. I mean, really ? Just because of a rotten wood on the road and the car’s lock was knocked out completely ? That’s just so stupid :)) Or the scene when Han Xiang confronted Chairman Choi, how could they converse when one was speaking Chinese and one was speaking Korean ? And the picture of Hae Yoon [that fat woman who JM nearly had to get married with lol], lol, even my parents who do not know anything about Photoshop would never believe in it :))

    But that’s just it. I’m totally satisfied with JM’s acting here, he’s totally into the role. Can’t stop laughing with his variety of facial expressions. Even though I was hoping he would choose a serious role next time, I still like Hee Hwan :)) Possibly because this character is nearly a copy of JM himself, hilarious and cunning. And thank God, he looks like himself in the drama, not a girl with tons of makeup like in the movie poster or concept photos.

    I actually didn’t like JMS at all, because I quite like Shara and her talents while JMS doesn’t look as pretty and tall as Shara is. But again, she really fits the role. Her acting is really good and she looks much better in the drama. Since I watched ep 2 yesterday, Hee Hwan said: “Mi En is so ugly, I don’t love her!”, I guess they changed the lead actress for a reason.

    Kingone looks a bit old, but he’s manly and looks really mature, which completely suits the image of Yan Han Xiang. I just hate that the stylist gave him such a hairstyle, seriously, he would look much better [like in Drunken to love you] if he had a better hairstyle.

    Firstly, I thought that Lia Lee’s role is a girl who always tries to steal her friend’s work, but fortunately, it’s not like that. Haha, this girl is such a typical princess, seeing world through her golden-plated pink glasses :)) Kind of worried for her because her secret is going to be revealed sooner or later, now that Han Xiang likes Mi En and will go to see Ai Lin’s parents.

    I hate that they don’t have the HD version of this drama since I’m so used to watching Korean drama in HD. And the fact that I have to wait for the whole long week to see one single episode just sucks. It will be such a waste if this drama doesn’t get enough recognition as it should have.

  27. I got hook by this 2 Taiwanese drama..Skip Beat and Fondant Garden…I like it because I watch Drama that entertains me not because I like the actors but it does play a part, if the actors is someone I like to see.The main leading ladies in both drama is someone new to me..never watch their drama at all but I am continuing watching both drama because it has a nice story line.Thanks Ms Koala.

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