Chapter 73: Sour and Spicy Assorted Pickled Vegetables
Translated by Karcessel of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
In the blink of an eye, the day of the XiQin restaurant’s reopening had arrived.
Lin ShuYi got up early that morning, despite the fact that it was only a reopening of the restaurant and the celebration wasn’t going to be too grand. Almost everything that had to be prepared was already in place. After all, the only people who would be coming to the event were some neighbors and the Shen family.
After Lin ShuYi got up, Shen Fu woke up as well, and checked his phone. It was only seven AM. “Why’re you up so early?”
“I’m heading to the restaurant to take one last look around.” Down jacket already on, Lin ShuYi was in middle of changing his shoes.
Shen Fu rolled over, and sat up. “Wait, I’m coming with you.”
Looking at Shen Fu’s ruffled hair and sleepy expression, Lin ShuYi couldn’t help but laugh. “Aren’t you still half asleep? Why come with me?”
Shen Fu didn’t respond, too busy throwing on some clothes and heading to the bathroom to wash up. “Just wait, I’ll be ready in a second.”
Lin ShuYi was originally planning to let Shen Fu sleep a little longer. The winter weather was well suited for sleeping in, especially with the cold wind whistling outside. Leaving the warm, cozy blankets to head outside into the chilly winter air this early in the morning could almost be considered a form of torture. But Lin ShuYi didn’t say anything more, because Shen Fu was already up and dressed. And anyway, it was nice having Shen Fu’s company around.
When Shen Fu was finished getting ready, the two of them headed to the restaurant together.
The plaque above the wooden entrance was already in place, with the name of the XiQin restaurant carved in bold, beautiful calligraphy. Shen Fu thought to himself, if it weren’t for this plaque, he would have never known that Lin ShuYi’s calligraphy was so elegant, so expertly composed, as natural as if he had been writing like this for years.
Actually, thinking of this, Shen Fu couldn’t help but feel that although Lin ShuYi’s written characters were exceptionally gorgeous, something still felt a bit off. On one hand, Lin ShuYi wrote in an ordinary regular script and managed to still make it feel resoundingly powerful. On the other, there was something about his positioning, especially his brush posture, that felt a bit awkward. The end result was flawless, but still, something about that posture just seemed strange.
Lin ShuYi’s feelings about this were that truthfully, it was a bit awkward. It took him two full weeks to learn how to use a ballpoint pen, and to understand that the method of writing was completely different from using a brush.
Currently, it wasn’t the right season for planting, so the grape vines in the front yard had not been transplanted yet. The wooden arbour was still bare, but below them were displayed several evenly spaced trees that remained green through the winter season, so the scenery wasn’t completely empty. Although the current appearance wasn’t all that bad, when spring arrived and the grape vines were planted, this wooden arbour would be even more beautiful.
There honestly wasn’t much to look at in the restaurant, everything was ready, so Lin ShuYi and Shen Fu just did a final lap around the see if there was anything that needed to be adjusted. A few potted plants and tables Lin ShuYi directed Shen Fu to move later, the two of them were out of things to do.
Shen Fu had been completely focused when they were working, but now that everything was done, he suddenly felt his stomach rumble. “I’m hungry.”
Lin ShuYi laughed. “I’ll go get some of today’s soup stock and make something quick for you to eat.”
Shen Fu nodded, endlessly thankful for his good fortune.
While Lin ShuYi went into the kitchen, Shen Fu pulled out his phone and gave his grandfather a call. He didn’t try to call earlier because he had assumed that Grandfather Shen was still asleep. As the tone rang, Grandfather Shen picked up immediately, his voice not even sleepy in the slightest. “Grandpa?”
“And here I was just about to start getting ready to head over. You know, these past few days after we came back, everyone’s been thinking that it’s way too dull and quiet without the two of you here making things lively. I hadn’t even gotten out of bed just now, and already, I heard your mother up and at ‘em, getting things ready, talking about heading over early.”
Shen Fu couldn’t help but smile, because this indeed sounded like something his mother would do. His heart felt all warm and fluffy, and a little bit proud.
“What about my brother? Is he coming this time?” Shen Fu didn’t forget that he still owed Shen Yan a meal of fruitwood roasted duck. If he didn’t live up to his promise soon, the next time he went home, he had a feeling his time there wouldn’t be so pleasant. Although they didn’t have any fruitwood roasted duck at the restaurant, Lin ShuYi could make some of his signature dishes, and that should satisfy Shen Yan. A couple shared their debts after all.
On the other end of the line, Grandfather Shen laughed loudly. “Of course he’s coming, how could he not? Now, he didn’t say anything, but he’s already settled everything with the business in advance, just waiting for today.”
This… was also very much Shen brother’s style.
“Alright, then if there isn’t anything else, we’re getting ready to leave soon.”
“Mn.” Shen Fu hung up the phone, and walked into the kitchen. “My grandpa and the rest of them are just about finished preparing for the trip over.”
Lin ShuYi glanced back, “This early?”
“Mhm.” Shen Fu casually hooked both hands in his pockets, leaning against the doorframe. “My mom said that without the two of us at home, everything was too quiet.” Heartache was written across Lin ShuYi’s entire expression. “Let’s renovate our home so that when my mom misses us, she can come over and stay while.”
Lin ShuYi nodded without hesitation. If it weren’t for the XiQin restaurant and grandpa Yang, he probably would have already moved in with the Shen family in H city.
Shen Fu grinned, “Then I’ll look after this. So where are we going to live during the renovation?”
Lin ShuYi thought about it for a moment, then said, “Let’s talk to grandpa Yang about it, see if we can stay at his place. Grandpa Yang lives all alone, we could give him a little company.”
Hearing Lin ShuYi this, Shen Fu thought it was a pretty good idea. He had originally been planning to live in the restaurant, thinking that it might inconvenience Old Man Yang if they stayed in his home, but Lin ShuYi seemed to have thought it through a bit more carefully than him. Since Old Man Yang lived all alone, if they joined him and kept him company, then they shouldn’t be an inconvenience.
While talking to Shen Fu, Lin ShuYi didn’t forget to also focus on cooking something for him to eat.
A bright, translucent red soup, crisp green leaves, light yellow scrambled eggs, and little dough drops. Turning off the heat and adding a few last drops of sesame oil on top, from start to finish, this meal didn’t even take fifteen minutes.
Shen Fu scooted closer. “Noodles? It smells pretty good.”
The bowls in the restaurant were an elegant, artistic style, with a simple flowery pattern in varying shades of blue on light porcelain. Using it to hold a colorful breakfast like this, it was even prettier. Shen Fu leaned in, and just seeing the soup was enough to make his stomach growl. At first glance, he had thought it was noodles, but getting a closer look now, it didn’t seem that much like regular noodles. It seemed more like a bowl of large-cut lascute noodle soup.
“Lascute noodle soup?”
Lin ShuYi nodded. “Similar. Made with the same materials, but much quicker and more convenient. This is dough drop soup.”
Without the need to roll out noodles or even knead any dough, these dough drops only required some flour mixed with some water into a thick, lumpy texture, then scooped into a pot of boiling hot soup in little clumps to cook into dough drops.
The soup mustn’t be cooked for too long after the dough was dropped in, however, for the resulting soup to turn out clear and delicious. Otherwise, the dough will start to dissolve in the soup, turning it too thick and doughy and much less tasty.
Since Shen Fu liked eating spicy food, after placing the bowl of dough drop soup on the table, Lin ShuYi also pulled out a small dish of sour and spicy assorted pickled vegetables.
It was called ‘assorted’ pickled vegetables for a reason. Made with daikon radish, carrot, cucumber, green and red peppers, onion, green beans, and many more all cut into thin strips, then soaked in seasoned pickle juice. Twenty four hours later, a crisp and refreshing, sour and spicy side dish was ready.
It wasn’t anything uncommon or hard to make, so Lin ShuYi prepared to pickle some every day to be served as a complementary side dish.
Paired with the light dough drop soup, it was a perfect match. The bowl was a bit too small, so it only took a few moments for Shen Fu to down two entire bowls of soup. His stomach was already warming up, with the sour and spicy flavors stimulating his appetite and even making his forehead sweat a little.
Before Shen Fu had even finished eating, Old Man Yang arrived, with the new assistant Lin ShuYi had previously tasked him with finding.
Lin ShuYi didn’t expect them to come so early, so he was prepared to head into the kitchen to get them some food when Old Man Yang said they already ate.
“I think you two have met this kid before. His name is Tang Shuang, and he’s a clever one. He’s studied under other restaurants before, knows how to pair a dish, and his character is pretty reassuring too.”
Shen Fu and Lin ShuYi turned to get a look at the new staff member together.
Old Man Yang had mentioned letting them weigh in on who to hire before, but Lin ShuYi was fully confident in Old Man Yang’s abilities so he didn’t need to check beforehand. Now that Old Man Yang brought the new person over, sure enough, he really seemed like a smart and sensible person.
Tanned skin and big eyes, with the way he smiled at Shen Fu and Lin ShuYi there was clearly nothing more that needed to be asked. One look and it was clear that this Tang Shuang was a bright kid. Old Man Yang clearly had more experience than either of them with people, and what’s more, Lin ShuYi personally felt that this person was pretty good.
“Xiao Tang, this is the restaurant’s owner, Lin ShuYi. And this is… His brother, Shen Fu.” Old Man Yang tried, but in the end still failed voice a more intimate term. Seeing Xiao Yi’s expression of understanding, he didn’t try to explain in any more detail. Anyway, if Tang Shuang didn’t realise anything yet, he would come to an understanding over time.
“Hello Xiao Yi ge, Shen ge, it’s nice to meet you.” Tang Shuang smiled as he greeted Lin ShuYi, then shook Shen Fu’s hand.
Shen Fu grinned. Sure enough, this was a bright kid.
Tang Shuang, quite proud of making a good first impression, gave himself an internal thumbs up. Really, it was obvious from their looks and actions who was the gong and who was the shou, how could he be dumb enough to shake Lin ShuYi’s hand instead of Shen Fu’s?
And also, he called Lin ShuYi ‘ge’ not because he was trying to use flattery, but rather, according to age, Lin ShuYi really was older than him. They were of the same year, but Lin ShuYi was still older by a few months.
After introducing himself, Tang Shuang obediently pulled out his health certificate. In this kind of profession, this wasn’t something that could be overlooked. Lin ShuYi took a quick glance, and let Tang Shuang put it back. He wasn’t concerned about a person that Old Man Yang found at all.
After discussing the matter of salary for a bit, they settled on a pay that was much higher than Tang Shuang’s previous one. The kid was so happy he almost couldn’t believe it, grinning so wide his canines showed.
Lin ShuYi then added, “I don’t have any other requirements, except for one thing. In the future, I imagine you’ll be making many trips to the grocery store. If you substitute our high quality ingredients for cheaper ones even once, and I find out, then you’ll be leaving this job immediately, no further discussions.”
Tang Shuang nodded very seriously, coming to a quick realisation that Lin ShuYi might not be as soft as he seemed on the surface.
But Tang Shuang understood why Lin ShuYi was so strict on this matter. There were many small restaurants that had pretty good business when they first opened, and naturally had very tasty food, but after a while their owners would get pampered, arrogant. They’d start replacing high quality ingredients with cheaper ones, and while it was hardly noticeable in the beginning, their customers weren’t fools. After a while, everyone could figure out that the taste wasn’t the same as before. This was why some shops had been around for hundreds of years, while others were short-lived and found it difficult to survive. Lin ShuYi was only older than Tang Shuang by two months, but his foresight was much more mature than anyone his age.
Tang Shuang was starting to feel like he had followed the right person.