Chapter 25: Duck Blood Pudding Vermicelli Soup
Translated by Karcessel of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
After shopping for a few hours, Lin ShuYi and Shen Fu only ended up buying two phone cases. Xiao Wan, on the other hand, bought much more than two phone cases. It seemed that she was a typical girl after all, and had absolutely no resistance to flashy, pretty little trinkets.
Time passed and the three continued looking around, but it was only when lunch time came around that Lin ShuYi’s spirits appeared.
While chatting, Shen Fu, Lin ShuYi and Xiao Wan headed towards a popular food destination, a street lined with all kinds of restaurants. This street was already a little old, but it was situated right in the city’s center, and it was unique in its style. The buildings all around were designed with the simple and elegant architecture style of Jiangnan, and there were few who wouldn’t pay this place a visit as long as they were in S City.
Restaurants and shops around this street encompassed cuisines from all over China, from delicate little pastures to signature regional dishes, everything one could think of and more were to be found here.
As expected, Xiao Wan was the most familiar with this location. She introduced shops along the way, explaining what foods were available here and there as they walked. Finally, her introductions finished, she turned around and asked Lin ShuYi what he wanted to eat.
Lin ShuYi froze in his tracks, a deer caught in headlights look in his eyes. He had a serious issue with indecision when it came to making decisions concerning food, and this type of question, asking what he wanted to eat among an endless list of options, was just not something he could answer.
Xiao Wan, of course, had no idea what he might want to eat. Shen Fu however understood Lin ShuYi much more clearly, and came to the rescue. Resting an arm across Lin ShuYi’s shoulders, he shook his head with a laugh at Xiao Wan. “Oh no, a person like Lin ShuYi, you can only tell him what to eat, you can’t ask him what to eat. There is no way he could make a decision.”
Especially when it came to food.
Shen Fu thought for a second, then spoke again. “Lin ShuYi can’t handle spicy food, so that’s off the table. It’s also lunchtime right now, so we can leave all the little finger foods and street foods to the afternoon, what we want right now is a full meal. Xiao Wan, I remember you telling me about a famous old duck blood pudding vermicelli soup shop nearby, was that right?”
Xiao Wan nodded.
Shen Fu grinned and gently squished Lin ShuYi’s face with his other hand. “Then how about we go eat that?”
With that sentence, the decision was set. Xiao Wan didn’t catch Shen Fu’s teasing, and thought to herself that Shen Fu’s appearance while analyzing and contemplating a decision was extremely handsome.
Lin ShuYi shot Shen Fu a cold look, but didn’t bother saying anything. This person didn’t just like invading people’s personal space, he also liked poking and prodding at them annoyingly. He was nothing like a well-mannered gentleman and much more like some punk kid.
By the time the three of them reached the restaurant’s front doors, Lin ShuYi’s animosity had all but vanished. He couldn’t care less about Shen Fu anymore. The aroma of deliciously fragrant soup reached Lin ShuYi’s senses, moving his taste buds and making his eyes water. He looked just like a dog that had spied a large, meaty bone. It was so cute that Shen Fu couldn’t help but hold back a laugh.
This was the first time Xiao Wan had seen such a look on Lin ShuYi’s face, and she was quite surprised as well. How could the usually cold and stone-faced Xiao Yi gege have such a cute look on his face? This was completely unscientific.
Shen Fu itched to pat Lin ShuYi on the head, but stopped himself, and lead them into the restaurant instead.
The graceful Jiangnan style building did not look large from the outside, but in fact it had two stories on the inside. The simple wooden plaque above the entrance was unlike the brightly lit flashy signs of the other restaurants as well, and on it was written four words in bold, black ink. Hundred Year Old Restaurant. On the lower right corner was written another four words. Duck Blood Vermicelli Soup.
The aroma that Lin ShuYi had smelled outside turned out to have come from right inside the front doors, where a large copper pot half a man’s height rested on a burning stove, the total height of which came close to Xiao Wan’s height. The steaming hot soup inside was duck bone soup, rolling in perpetual white waves from the constant heat, and spreading the mouth-watering scent far and wide.
The copper pot looked as if it had seen some wear and tear. In face, Xiao Wan had mentioned that this restaurant had been around for quite a while now. This copper pot had been around since the opening of the shop, and had since then become a signature of the restaurant itself.
The interior of the restaurant had long since packed full with people, and only a few seats on the upper floor were left, so up the three of them went.
The decorations on the second floor of the restaurant were also as simple as the exterior appearance. The wooden tables and chairs were covered with a thin layer of clear varnish, and each table was separated by a carved folding screen half a person’s height. The overall appearance was quite rustic.
The back wall seemed to be the only modern-looking part of this floor, and it was covered side to side with photographs. The photos were casually but not messily pinned around, and each seemed to feature the same person with various other different people. All the photos seemed to be taken in this restaurant, and many of them had the copper pot in the background.
Lin ShuYi scanned every picture, but couldn’t spy anyone he recognized.
Seeing Lin ShuYi glance at the pictures, Xiao Wan couldn’t help but pipe up. “This restaurant has been open for so long it’s gained quite a reputation, so lots of famous stars have come here to eat. Look over here, this is Mister Xi. And over there, look, that’s FanFan. She’s my favorite.”
Lin ShuYi listened as Xiao Wan named the stars in the photos one by one, but when he looked over them again, he still had absolutely no impression of who anyone was.
After Xiao Wan talked for awhile about famous stars without a single reply from Lin ShuYi, she started to feel a bit self-conscious, like maybe she had said too much. After all, Lin ShuYi was only one year older than her, how could he not know at least some of these stars? Even though, she had always felt that he was much older than he looked.
After she stopped talking, Xiao Wan took another look at Lin ShuYi, and was shocked to see him looking at the stars she had just named with blank confusion. Could it really be that he didn’t know any of them?
Shen Fu, meanwhile, didn’t follow the other two’s conversation at all. He was sitting on his chair, engrossed in his cellphone. Lately, his phone had been pinging much more frequently. Sometimes it was a text, sometimes it was a call, but Shen Fu only seemed to reply to the occasional text, and never picked up any calls.
The restaurant didn’t just have good food, they also had efficient service. It seemed like the three had just placed their orders before they were served with steaming hot bowls of soup.
Like the restaurant itself, the blue and white porcelain bowls were nothing special, but it was what was inside the bowls that was special.
A thick, white soup base and crystal clear vermicelli noodles were topped with thick sliced of duck blood pudding, and thin slices of duck gizzards, duck intestines, and duck liver. Two halves of bean curd and a sprinkle of fresh green coriander topped the bowl off. The sight and scent was enough to make anyone drool.
The duck blood pudding was refreshing and tasty, and the vermicelli was elastic and chewy.
Xiao Wan praised while eating, “I’ll be honest, I have never tasted another restaurant’s duck blood pudding vermicelli soup as good as this one’s.”
Lin ShuYi drank the last of the soup in his bowl, looked up, and nodded seriously.
Xiao Wan looked at him with surprise. “Wow, you sure ate fast.”
Shen Fu pulled a napkin from the box beside him and, as if no one else was there, leaned over and wiped the corner of Lin ShuYi’s mouth. “Is that enough? Do you want any more?”
Lin ShuYi nodded again.
Xiao Wan looked down and tried to resist burying her face in her bowl. Even if they were cousins, Xiao Fu gege was still being a little too intimate, right?
After eating their fill, the three went shopping for a little while more, before taking a taxi ride back to the hospital. This time, it wasn’t just Xiao Wan carrying bags upon bags of goodies, Lin ShuYi had joined her. The only difference was, all of Xiao Wan’s bags contained things to play with, while all of Lin ShuYi’s bags contained things to eat.
By the time they got back, Old Man Yang had already fallen asleep. Xiao Wan’s grandmother was sitting beside him reading a newspaper, afraid that if she turned on the television the noise would disturb him. She didn’t know where this boring Finance and Economics edition of the newspaper came from, but she had nothing else to do. After a while, none of the words she read even registered with her, so she gave up and just looked at the pictures instead. She commented to herself while looking through the pages. “These two people are pretty handsome, and look kind of familiar…”
Xiao Wan and the two boys opened the door.
Lin ShuYi stepped in and immediately made a beeline for Old Man Yang’s side, and upon seeing he was asleep, lowered his voice as he talked to Xiao Wan’s grandmother. “Grandma, have you eaten yet? We brought lots of food back.”
Xiao Wan’s grandmother smiled, and put down the newspaper. “I’ve eaten. He just fell asleep.”
Xiao Wan couldn’t wait to show her grandmother all the new trinkets she bought, unpacking and presenting them one by one all the while asking her grandmother whether she liked them, whether she thought they were cute.
With good humor, Xiao Wan’s grandmother scolded lightheartedly, “Look at you, almost an adult already and still spending your money on all these flashy little things. I can’t understand what you youths find cute these days. Look at Xiao Yi, all the things he bought can be eaten. What can the things you bought do?”
A little smile tugged at the corners of Lin ShuYi’s lips. It was as if Xiao Wan’s grandmother read his mind. What use were things that couldn’t be eaten?
At his side, Shen Fu also smiled, but stayed silent.
After a little while, Xiao Wan’s grandmother got up to leave, but called Lin ShuYi outside to speak before that.
“So, you say that Old Man Yang decided not to give them the house after all?”
“Grandpa said that it isn’t as if he doesn’t want to give them the house, just that he’s still upset with them and isn’t going to give it to them right now,” Lin ShuYi replied.
Xiao Wan’s grandmother laughed when she heard this. “That’s good, that family needs to learn a lesson or two about what their parents do and don’t owe them. That old man, he’s always been too kind-hearted. Now if he had my temper, then even heaven would be in an uproar.”
Lin ShuYi smiled, but didn’t say anything. It had taken him a while, but he’d long since realised that Xiao Wan’s grandmother might have a knife for a tongue, but she was actually soft at heart. Her only flaw was that she liked to gossip too much, but she was a good person. This was clear in the way she treated and took care of Old Man Yang.
Xiao Wan’s grandmother repeated, “That’s good, then. As long as he has a plan. It’s difficult for us outsiders to get in between family matters, but I just hope he isn’t harboring any negative feelings in his heart.”
Lin ShuYi nodded. “I think that recently grandpa has thought things through, but I will pay more attention to him from now on.”
“Mn. Xiao Yi, you really are a good child.” Xiao Wan’s grandmother replied. “But that’s enough for today. It’s getting late, and past time for Xiao Wan and I to be heading home. Any later and I’m afraid we won’t be able to find a ride back.”
It was almost time for Old Man Yang to be discharged from the hospital anyways. Any other words to say could wait until after he got back, it wasn’t like there was a rush.
Xiao Wan was playing a game on her phone, but packed up quickly when she heard the call from her grandmother. She waved goodbye to Shen Fu and Lin ShuYi.
Xiao Wan’s grandmother walked out, and then a moment later, walked back in. She started glancing around the bedside and under the hospital bed.
“Grandma, what are you looking for?” Lin ShuYi asked.
Xiao Wan’s grandmother shook her head. “Ah, it’s nothing important. Then I’ll be going back with Xiao Wan first. We can chat when you get back.”
As she was leaving, Xiao Wan’s grandmother wondered where the newspaper she was just reading went. She clearly remembered leaving it right beside the bed before she stepped out, but when she came back, it had disappeared.
Forget it, it was just some boring old newspaper she didn’t understand anyway.
After sending the two people off, Lin ShuYi came back to find Shen Fu carefully tucking Old Man Yang neatly into his blankets. Lin ShuYi pursed his lips unconsiously. Shen Fu was usually such an indecent, annoying character, that sometimes it surprised Lin ShuYi to see his inexplicably warm heart.