Chapter 57: Honey Roasted Ham
Translated by Karcessel of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
With the XiQin restaurant’s construction finally complete, the designer, Xiao Liu, was burning with anxiety to settle the contract and wrap up this project.
On the day the rebuilding was complete, when he would have his final discussion with his client, Xiao Liu didn’t even see Lin ShuYi’s face, but rather took an opportunity when Lin ShuYi was away from the site to give him a call.
“Well… now that everything’s finished, and since you came to take a look in the morning, are there any last requests? Anything you’re dissatisfied with?”
Lin ShuYi thought about it. When he went to take a look in the morning, there wasn’t anything he didn’t like. In fact, he liked the design very much. Despite the designer’s young age, he really was famous in the design world for a reason. It seemed as if he understood Lin ShuYi’s mind perfectly, knowing exactly what he wanted out of the restaurant’s redesign.
“There’s isn’t anything. Everything’s good, I’m very satisfied.” Lin ShuYi took a drink of water, and lowered his voice a bit.
Shen Fu was lying beside him, eyes closed and presumably asleep. Lin ShuYi didn’t know what Shen Fu was busy with all night last night, on his phone until well past midnight. He made several hushed calls that Lin ShuYi didn’t hear clearly and didn’t ask about.
In the morning, when Lin ShuYi was trying to sneak out, he unexpectedly woke Shen Fu up. And, upon hearing that Lin ShuYi was headed to the restaurant, Shen Fu got dressed sleepily and insisted on going with him. As soon as they got back, however, Shen Fu collapsed on the couch, eyes closed before he even hit the cushions.
Hearing that Lin ShuYi was satisfied with his work, Xiao Liu left go of a held breath and said, “Then, if there aren’t any issues, I’ll be leaving with the crew. Over half of the money has been paid already, so just forward the rest to my account.”
Before Xiao Liu began this project, all the financial details were discussed well in advanced. Excluding any money required for materials in the reconstruction, only two thirds of the total sum was paid in the beginning, the rest was to be paid when he completed his work.
This was, of course, just how hired work went. Money paid, and the professionals moved on. But thinking about it, Lin ShuYi still couldn’t just let the designer and the crew go without at least saying goodbye in person. Quietly, he put the cup in his hand down, and asked, “Have you left the site yet?”
On the other end, Xiao Liu shouted a few orders in the background, before replying to Lin ShuYi’s question, “Not yet, aren’t I still settling the details with you? I could only leave if my clients are satisfied with my work.”
Lin ShuYi nodded. “That’s good then. I’m at home right now, but I’ll be over there immediately. Please wait a few minutes for me.”
As Lin ShuYi spoke on the phone, he made his way outside the room to go grab his jacket. The weather was getting colder now, and the temperature difference between inside and outside was getting pretty significant. Going outside without a jacket now would chill anyone to their bones.
When Xiao Liu heard that Lin ShuYi was coming over, his voice suddenly rose several degrees. “That, That, d-don’t come over here!”
Belatedly, Xiao Liu realised how rude he must have sounded, so he took a deep breath to calm himself and amended, “Grandfather Yang is already here, so you don’t need to come. We’ll just settle a few things and I’ll be on my way, there’s no need for you to trouble yourself coming all the way over here.”
Lin ShuYi paused with one hand on the front door’s handle. As if fearing that Lin ShuYi wouldn’t believe him, on the other end of the line Xiao Liu could be heard calling Old Man Y over in the background, and then old man Yang’s voice came through the phone. “Hello? Xiao Yi?”
“Mn.” Lin ShuYi made a sound of confirmation.
Lin ShuYi couldn’t hear what Xiao Liu said to Old Man Yang on the other side, but he heard Old Man Yang agree a few times, then say, “I’m taking care of everything here, you don’t need to worry. There aren’t any issues. Xiao Liu and the crew are getting ready to leave now, you don’t need to come send them off…”
Lin ShuYi was silent for a moment. It seemed that this designer really didn’t want to see him. He said goodbye to Old Man Yang and hung up.
Only after the line clicked off could Xiao Liu let out a sigh of relief. He really was afraid of that cousin who kept hanging around Lin ShuYi. It would probably be best if he didn’t see Lin ShuYi, right?
And then, after packing up, Xiao Liu stepped out the front door of the restaurant to come face to face with Lin ShuYi, standing outside talking to Old Man Yang, with that terrifying cousin casually by his side.
Xiao Liu felt his stomach doing backflips in his body.
Lin ShuYi noticed Xiao Liu, and waved his hand, beckoning Xiao Liu over. Now Xiao Liu couldn’t even act as if he didn’t see them. Slowly and sullenly, Xiao Liu made his way over, staring intently at a rock down by his feet.
Lin ShuYi was perplexed. Didn’t Xiao Liu really like talking to his before? How come recently he didn’t even want to look at him?
Shen Fu just stood by Lin ShuYi’s side, arms crossed casually and a slight smirk on his face. He didn’t say anything.
“Since you’re leaving, I thought that I should come and say goodbye. Especially since I haven’t seen you around these past few days.”
Xiao Liu nodded, and snuck a glance at Shen Fu. Seeing that Shen Fu didn’t look very threatening at the moment, he managed to relax a bit. Saying a few words to Lin ShuYi before he left should be okay, right?
“Mhm. Your restaurant is complete, and I have another project to head to tomorrow, so I should get going soon.” To tell the truth, Xiao Liu was actually very reluctant to part with Lin ShuYi. It was rare to find someone as naturally talented in design as Lin ShuYi. If only that scary cousin wasn’t around. Shen Fu might be very handsome, but he was still terrifying.
Although Lin ShuYi didn’t understand why Xiao Liu was suddenly speaking to him again, he still handed over the gift he brought. “I bought this a few days ago, it’s one of a kind. It’s a parting gift for you.”
It was a carved wooden horse, it’s head raise high and his feet standing among a fog of clouds, with a phrase wishing good fortune carved in one corner. Lin ShuYi bought it from Old Man Wen’s.
Xiao Liu’s eyes lit up as he saw what Lin ShuYi was holding out to him. Forgetting Shen Fu’s presence, he quickly stepped forward to take Lin ShuYi’s hand, and the carved horse sculpture. “It’s so beautiful! So vivid and lifelike! And look, even the hairs on the mane are so detailed! Are you really giving this to me?”
Lin ShuYi nodded.
Xiao Liu was so excited, he hugged the horse close, cradling it carefully, and thanked Lin ShuYi profusely. He absolutely loved it. It wasn’t until he felt a chill tingling down his spine that Xiao Liu realised that he was standing very close to Lin ShuYi, with a hand still on his shoulder.
Shen Fu’s dark look reminded him of a claw that was about to rip out his tongue. Alarms immediately went off in Xiao Liu’s head, he was so excited that for a moment he forgot who was here!
He knew that seeing Lin ShuYi would be a bad idea!
Quickly, Xiao Liu backed off, daggers following him from Shen Fu’s gaze. After saying a few quick goodbyes, he almost ran off, gathering his crew and leaving quickly, all the while giving Lin ShuYi a wide berth.
Lin ShuYi watched this in confused silence. Then, completely serious, he turned his head to look at Shen Fu. “Have I been really annoying to other people lately?”
Through great effort, Shen Fu managed to hold back his laughter, keeping his expression calm. He raised a hand and pamperingly rubbed Lin ShuYi’s head. “How could that be possible? He must have had a bathroom emergency and needed to go.”
Lin ShuYi pushed Shen Fu’s hand away and rolled his eyes, leaving.
The XiQin restaurant was finally finished renovating, and all the things Lin ShuYi bought were already moved in. As expected, Lin ShuYi’s decorations served as the final touch to the elegant historical architectural design. The restaurant’s capacity had also increased significantly. No matter from the inside or the outside, the entire restaurant was completely different from what it used to be.
For the time being, the restaurant still couldn’t be opened, because although the materials used in it’s reconstruction were all environmentally friendly, it still needed to be aired out for a few days. Still, Lin ShuYi was delighted nonetheless.
Since the restaurant was still closed, Lin ShuYi took this opportunity to create the restaurant’s menu and hire a few staff.
The hiring was left to Old Man Yang because he was more familiar with this place. Lin ShuYi didn’t really need any sous chefs, he could manage all the cooking by himself. After all, this was a private restaurant, and he intended to succeed through quality over quantity. He only needed a few people to lend him a hand now and then and greet the guests when they came in.
Old Man Yang agreed easily to Lin ShuYi’s plan. Although the restaurant was getting bigger and bigger and had left it’s noodle shop roots behind, Old Man Yang was still very happy seeing it flourish. Lin ShuYi said, no matter how big the restaurant became, the name would never change. Old Man Yang felt that this wasn’t necessary, but he still felt warmed by the gesture. Back then, when he gave this restaurant to Lin ShuYi, he had made the right decision.
Creating a menu was something no one could help Lin ShuYi with. It could only be decided by himself, because only Lin ShuYi knew what dishes he could cook. Thus, in the days leading up to the restaurant’s grand reopening, he dedicated all of his time to the kitchen at home, making all kinds of dishes.
He planned to make every single dish he knew and let everyone have a taste, so he could decide what items went on the menu.
Shen Fu was delighted at the opportunity to eat copious amounts of Lin ShuYi’s cooking. To tell the truth, Shen Fu didn’t think that Lin ShuYi looked much like a chef most of the time. The exception was when Lin ShuYi was cooking, he was so focused and so dedicated that he was clear how much he truly loved this profession.
Recently, Lin ShuYi had grown a little taller, almost one hundred and eighty centimeters, but still nowhere hear Shen Fu’s height. Wearing a dark red sweater with the sleeves rolled up to his elbow, with his long, slenger fingers and pale, soft skin, Lin ShuYi looked like a model straight off of T station. Well, almost looked like a model, but the silly cartoon apron around his waist completely ruined the image.
Even if the cartoon monkey with the large mouth was disregarded, the apron was still irredeemably edged with pink lace.
Everytime Shen Fu saw this apron, he couldn’t help but smile. Although Lin ShuYi was very pretty, anyone who saw him like this would want to laugh.
The apron was bought by Xiao Wan after she accidentally broke the one she borrowed. The apron Lin ShuYi got back was completely different from the one he lent, and Xiao Wan was quite insistent he wear it. In the end, Lin ShuYi didn’t care much about the silliness of the apron, and wore it every time he cooked.
Shen Fu had been laughing since the first time he saw the apron until now, yet somehow, he felt that Lin ShuYi inexplicably looked even more attractive in the apron. It was a side of Lin ShuYi that only a few people ever got to see, and it made Shen Fu feel a bit special. He thought to himself, if he ever saw an apron like this in a store, he would be sure to buy a few more.
Shen Fu stood guard by the kitchen door, his arms casually folded across his chest, as Lin ShuYi busily cooked away inside. The air was already beginning to fill with the aroma of delicious food.
An earthenware pot was stewing on the stovetop, a steamer was steaming on the counter, Lin ShuYi himself was in middle of cutting some vegetables, and a dish was just about ready to leave the pan. Lin ShuYi multitasked seamlessly, cooking several things at once yet remaining calm and efficient. Song Yan once said, if one didn’t love cooking, then they cooked with their heads. But if one loved to cook, then they cooked with their heart. No matter what they cooked, they would never forget how it was done.
Because these were all dishes that would go on the restaurant’s menu, all the ingredients Lin ShuYi used must also be restaurant quality. This matter didn’t cost Lin ShuYi any lack of effort. Many of the ingredients in the modern era were different from ingredients in Da Yan, and many were much better than anything he could find in Da Yan, so he needed to start from scratch and recreate many of his recipes, making them better and tastier.
Many of the dishes Lin ShuYi wanted to cook were complicated or time consuming to make, so he needed more ingredients than he could get from just the grocer on ChaoYang street. Most of the items ChaoYang’s grocery store carried were unique to the region, and some of the more unique items Lin ShuYi needed couldn’t be bought there. However, because the XiQin restaurant was a frequent customer of the grocery store, the owner of the store told Lin ShuYi that if he needed anything that wasn’t in the store, Lin ShuYi could tell him, and he would buy them along with his usual supplied when he visited the city. He had connections so he could get many of the ingredients for much cheaper, and didn’t resell them for much more money, so it was a pretty convinent deal and Lin ShuYi settled happily.
This time, all the ingredients Lin ShuYi used were from that grocer, and although he didn’t need much currently, all the supplies he did receive were all the best and freshest. Lin ShuYi was very happy with this. Song Yan also once said, for a good dish, the most important part was the ingredients. If the ingredients were of good quality, then even if they were boiled in plain water, they would still taste good. So Lin ShuYi wasn’t afraid of buying expensive ingredients if they were good, after all, every private restaurant had those few expensive, high quality dishes that attracted customers to the restaurant.
Truthfully, many of the dishes Lin ShuYi knew how to make were not catered to the general public, so naturally they were a bit pricey. But compared to all those luxury restaurants out there, his prices were still much cheaper. After all, those five star restaurants had to pay a lot of money to their owners and in taxes. If Lin ShuYi cooked well enough, then even if his prices were a bit higher than the XiQin restaurant used to be, there would still be plenty of people willing to come eat at his restaurant. Lin ShuYi wasn’t afraid of this challenge.
Shen Fu waited, originally standing by the kitchen door but eventually sitting at the table, drumming his fingers on the wooden surface, for over three hours before all the dishes were ready to be served. His mouth had long since started watering.
“Sorry, it takes a bit long cooking all of this without any preparations before hand. You must be tired of waiting. Here you go.”
“Don’t worry about time, your cooking values quality over quantity and so will your customers. Your food tastes fantastic, so it’s natural it would take a bit more time to cook.” Shen Fu thought that Lin ShuYi felt bad he had spent so much time cooking, and tried to comfort him.
Lin ShuYi smiled. He was surprised Shen Fu understood this concept, but more so that despite how hungry he must be from waiting so long, he still tried to comfort Lin ShuYi before eating.
Placing the last pot of soup on the table, Lin ShuYi waved his hand to signal Shen Fu that he could start the meal. “Honey roasted ham. We had this at a restaurant before, but this flavor is a bit different. Try it and tell me which tastes better.”
Lin ShuYi himself had already tried it and felt that his version tasted much better, but his own opinions didn’t matter as much as Shen Fu and the others when it came to what foods his future customers would like. Shen Fu picked up a piece with his chopsticks, placed in his mouth, and immediately melted from bliss, his eyes closing.
A fiery red color, the sauce translucent and shiny, the meat melting in his mouth, the honey roasted ham was perfect. It didn’t even carry any of the heavy salty flavor of the ham itself. The taste was light and sweet, and left a pleasant aftertaste.
“This version tastes much better.” Shen Fu managed as he continued to stuff ham in his mouth, “Super authentic.”
Lin ShuYi couldn’t help but laugh, and pushed a bowl of soup over to his side of the table. “Try this too.”
An entire feast made by Lin ShuYi just for him, who could refuse this kind of good fortune?
Or so Shen Fu thought, until the fourth dish came up.
Lin ShuYi grinned. “There’s still sauteed ham with fava beans and Longjing shrimp.”
Because Lin ShuYi’s cooking was so delicious, Shen Fu hadn’t spared any effort finishing every last piece in the bowl with every previous dish, not wanting to let anything go to waste. But there’s still more food?!
Shen Fu really didn’t think he could eat much more. Could he get the rest to go?