Chapter 102: Comments

Meanwhile, Yuan Zhou was also learning the techniques and positive aspects of the dishes he tasted, and at the same time, learning to avoid the mistakes the restaurants made. The process of taste testing was repeated over and over, the instinctive human desire to pursue perfection displaying itself in full throttle.
He continued to eat.
It was not until 4:00 PM did Yuan Zhou finally finish the taste testing in the five restaurants recorded in the notebook. Every restaurant had its unique characteristics and also some inevitable shortcomings. Yuan Zhou tried to give his comments to the delicacies swallowed into his mouth as objectively as possible.
Having put away the small notebook, half of which had been filled with notes, Yuan Zhou hailed a cab and prepared to go back to his restaurant.
“14 Taoxi Road, thanks," Seated in the cab, he began to think about the combination of different dishes and the heat control during cooking with his eyes closed for rest, after telling the destination to the driver.
“Ok," the driver agreed. Afterwards, he turned the steering wheel and stepped on the accelerator. Then the cab rushed out immediately.
The time was neither long nor short. It was barely 4:00 PM when Yuan Zhou returned to the restaurant. He had a little rest and straightway opened the door with the sound of “Hua La” for business after cleaning himself again and changing clothes.
In a moment, Mu Xiaoyun also arrived. She then started to do the odd jobs of wiping tables and related work.
“Xiaoyun, you can go back at 8:00 as usual," sitting in his chair, Yuan Zhou said to her.
“But boss, who’ll do the work after I leave?” Mu Xiaoyun asked habitually.
“I can do it myself," Yuan Zhou said frankly.
“I can help, boss," she said earnestly while holding a fist up.
“No need," Yuan Zhou refused her squarely.
“Alright," as far as Mu Xiaoyun knew, he basically wouldn’t change any decision he’d already made, therefore she had no choice but to agree.
While they were talking, the grandpa was leading Wang Shuyuan approaching the restaurant.
“What a coincidence today. Boss Yuan opens the door early," upon entering, the grandpa greeted Yuan Zhou.
Following behind, Wang Shuyuan nevertheless kept silent and observed the surroundings quietly.
The open kitchen was a fault. If any oil smoke came out from the kitchen, it would affect customers’ sense of taste while eating. At this point, Wang Shuyuan slightly frowned.
For other aspects, it was yet free from any misgiving. The tables and chairs were all clean enough.
Originally, Wang Shuyuan had wanted to sit at the small table beside the door. However, as the grandpa had already gotten used to sitting at the long curved table, he was seated there and waiting for him.
“The menu is on the wall behind you. Read it and order your dish, only one serving of each per visit," the grandpa introduced expertly.
“You seem to come here frequently, huh?” taking a look at the grandpa, Wang Shuyuan then turned his head and looked at the wall with the menu.
What came into his sights first were the rules. There were quite a few rules written on the wall, each of which appeared to be very unique.
Then it was the glistening Herbal Tea Eggs costing 1888 RMB, the most expensive dish in the menu. Next were the meat dishes, which were Wang Shuyuan’s favorites.
That’s right. Despite his age, Wang Shuyuan liked to eat meat over vegetables. However, the price made Wang Shuyuan feel that it was truly not an ordinary small restaurant.
“Ok. Jin’ling Grass, Melt-In-The-Mouth Chicken Feet and Phoenix-Tail Prawns, and Egg Fried Rice, one serving of each, please," having already known the expensive dishes in this restaurant, he prepared much money with him to specially eat.
“This old man doesn’t have so much money. I will order only one serving of Egg Fried Rice Set and eat some of your dishes," the grandpa said delightedly.
“No problem. Otherwise, I can’t finish them by myself either," Wang Shuyuan had originally ordered these dishes for the two of them, thus naturally agreed readily.
“Wait a moment, please," Yuan Zhou didn’t really know anything about the new customer. He merely agreed as usual and began to prepare the ingredients as per his strict requirements.
“The hand technique is nevertheless pretty good," when Wang Shuyuan saw how carefully Yuan Zhou washed the Jin’ling Grass, he said that.
“Of course. Also, I heard the young master also had equal technique in cutting, especially sculpting," the grandpa said as if he were enumerating his family valuables, appearing to be quite familiar with the restaurant.
“I can tell that simply from the manner he prepares the ingredients. But how does he handle the smoke from the oil?” after nodding, Wang Shuyuan looked around and then asked.
“It hadn’t occurred to me before until you mentioned it. Although it was an open kitchen, there’s not any smell of fumes even when cooking the Egg Fried Rice,” the grandpa suddenly thought of this matter. Only by then did he realize the source of the feeling of oddness from his previous visits.
“Not any of it?” Wang Shuyuan got a little unbelievable.
“Yes, it’s true. I don’t know what kind of range hood he has, but it must be amazing," the grandpa was still thinking hard about the possible brands the range hood could be.
“It’s probably specially designed,” Wang Shuyuan concluded affirmatively.
“It might be. But it’s really effective,” the grandpa still stuck to the effect of the range hood.
On the other side, Yuan Zhou had already braised the Melt-In-The-Mouth Chicken Feet and began to process the prawns.
“Ah, yes. This is to loosen the prawns first to be able to take out the vein afterwards," Wang Shuyuan looked at Yuan Zhou’s actions and said straight away.
“You old coot really know a lot, don’t you," the grandpa likewise began to carefully watch Yuan Zhou naturally and smoothly processing the prawns.
“With his experienced and skilled movements, the boss seems to have some genuine talent," Wang Shuyuan commented privately
At that time, Yuan Zhou had started to immerse the prawns into the hot oil. The smell definitely had no essence of oil fumes at all. At this, Wang Shuyuan became assured and began waiting contentedly.
Yuan Zhou processed the ingredients quickly. After only 10 minutes, the dishes were basically completed and ready to be served to the customers.
“Your dishes," Yuan Zhou set the dishes down one by one on the table.
“The color, fragrance, meaning and shape are all well represented. Only the most important point, the smell, is still unknown," Wang Shuyuan was ready to taste the dishes and said expectantly.
“You’ll know it after eating," Yuan Zhou was absolutely confident in his own culinary skills.
“Then this old man will try a bite now," picking up the chopsticks, Wang Shuyuan first targeted the Jin’ling Grass, which seemed to be uncooked and directly carried onto the table.
Naturally, he knew the Jin’ling Grass was actually artemisia selengensis. However, he had never seen it keep such a verdant color even after stir-frying before.
Upon entering his mouth, the delicate fragrance of the artemisia selengensis instantly impacted his taste buds. It was so refreshing that he felt as if a stretch of green was unfolding in his sights, making him pleased in both body and spirit.
While Wang Shuyuan was carefully savoring the dish, the grandpa began to eat adroitly, scooping a spoonful of Egg Fried Rice and also some Jin’ling Grass into his mouth with an awfully blissful expression on his face.
After each dish he ordered was carefully tasted, next was the Egg Fried Rice Set.
As an elementary dish in Chinese cuisine, the dish Egg Fried Rice had requirements that were neither easy nor complicated. However, who could manage to get every rice grain wrapped in egg, and moreover cook the rice to the perfect texture: soft and fluffy, fresh, tender, and with the perfect stiffness?
What’s more, the side dishes added extra brilliance to this delicious dish with their refreshing flavors.
Two meat dishes and one vegetable dish, plus two servings of Egg Fried Rice enabled the two old men to eat their fill. Soon, they hit the bottom of their plates.
After taking the last gulp of broth, Wang Shuyuan released a long sigh of relief and then said, “Young master, words can no more describe the excellence of your cooking skills,"
“Even the garnish tastes so refreshing and was both imaginative and beautiful. It’s just so perfect," Wang Shuyuan first spoke highly of this never-wasteful boss Yuan Zhou.
“Thank you," Yuan Zhou nodded and thanked him.
“It’s indeed delicious. Apart from that, the Golden Egg Fried Rice is superb. It’s my first time seeing Egg Fried Rice where every single individual rice grain was wrapped in egg. As for the side dishes, I only have one word: terrific,” Wang Shuyuan continued saying.
“The Phoenix-Tail Prawns is contentedly supposed to be the most genuine signature dish of Jin’ling cuisine. I haven’t seen such a phoenix-tail as lifelike as this one was in years," he sighed with emotion while looking at the empty plate.
“Regarding the chicken feet with its sharp contrast of cool and hot, I think it was probably prepared in a special way," he recalled the chicken bones in the feet that were more like cartilage than bone.
“Enough. You’re not preparing to comment on each dish one by one, are you?” the grandpa impatiently interrupted Wang Shuyuan’s contemplations.
“No, no. It’s merely that the young master has such top tier culinary skills at such a young age. Talent and hard work are two indispensable factors for success," Wang Shuyuan recovered from his rumination and looked at the dishes he had just contentedly eaten.
“That’s absolutely true. Master Yuan’s culinary skills are definitely beyond description," the grandpa said proudly as if it had something to do with him.

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