The film Flavor of Happiness tells the story around main characters Takako Yamashita and Wang Qingkuo (Mr. Wang). Takako works in the food division of a department store. She is asked by her superior to convince Mr. Wang, a Chinese man who is the owner of the restaurant called Little Shanghai, to open a branch in their store. In order to complete her task, Takako begins paying frequent visits to Little Shanghai. Although her request is rejected by Mr. Wang, Takako falls in love with the food and goes there every day for meals. One day, Mr. Wang collapses in his kitchen and thereafter is left with partial paralysis. In order to save Little Shanghai from closure, Takako quits her job and learns cooking with Mr. Wang as his apprentice. As time goes by when Takako’s skill improves, she represents Little Shanghai in the chefs’ gathering which Mr. Wang has withdrawn from earlier. However, food poisoning occurs and Takako’s oyster dish is regarded as the source. Feeling sorry for Mr. Wang and blaming herself for tarnishing the reputation of Little Shanghai, Takako stays at home and wants to give up cooking. With the purpose of letting Takako regain confidence, Mr. Wang lets Takako to manage the dinner party for a company president. The dinner party turns out to be a big success which draws a happy ending to the story.
Since the story starts from Little Shanghai, the restaurant setting, and the main characters Mr. Wang is a cook and Takako used to have her job in the food department, food definitely carries a key role in the film. While various dishes are shown in Flavor of Happiness, I wonder if there is anything beyond the food itself which makes it not merely something delicious for consumption and thus become significant in the film. After watching the film for several times, I find that the characters live with their remembrance, like Mr. Wang says there are things one just cannot forget. Can memory and food have a correlation in this film? If so, in what ways are they related?
In order to explore the questions that I have raised, I will in the paper specifically focus on the two main characters in the movie, Mr. Wang and Takako, and the dish crab shaomai and food that Mr. Wang cooks at Little Shanghai in general. The themes like estranged and lost are introduced in the film show the connections between food and memory.