Likeable cast serve up comfort fare

Likeable cast serve up comfort fare
Cinema still: Zone Pro Site: The Moveable Feast starring Hsi Hsiang (left) and Yo Yang

Review: Comedy Drama


144 mins/Opens on Thursday/3 and a half out of 5

The story: Aspiring actress Hsiao Wan (Kimi Hsia) flees with her mother (Lin Mei-hsiu) from debt collectors by setting up a small eatery in a quiet town. When the debt collectors discover their new abode, mother and daughter decide to enter a local "ban doh" cooking competition in the hope of winning the NT$1 million prize money. They seek the help of "cuisine doctor" Yeh Ru-hai (Yo Yang), who has a knack for improving recipes.

Do not be put off by the ridiculously meaningless title.

Zone Pro Site, which looks like something that should have been slapped on a zombie thriller instead, was used simply because it sounds like the movie's Chinese title "zong pu shi", or "master banquet chef". Clearly, some people from the film's promotions department were trying too hard to be clever.

Make no mistake, though, the movie itself is a warm and colourful work that comes off as very, very earnest.

Centred on the Taiwanese tradition of "ban doh", or outdoor street banquet, the film pays loving tribute to the island's customs, language and some long-forgotten cuisine.

The food porn throughout, which features age-old local fare such as a tantalisingly bizarre dish where a turtle is stuffed into a chicken and then stuffed again in a pork belly wrap, is all utterly drool-worthy.

There is also much emphasis on good old comfort food (leftover stew and fried beehoon) over gourmet restaurant fare, so much so that you will leave the cinema craving mum's cooking.

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