“………..From where did they invite us now?”
“From the royal room.”
“When you say ‘royal palace’, you mean THE royal room, right? It’s not something else, right?”
Martin just smirked instead of replying. It was a question he didn’t even need to answer because Emily, who was asking the question, already knew it. She rolled her eyes between the fried eggs that was on her fork and Martin and in the end took a bite.
And then put a happy smile. From the oily and thick fried coating, the feeling of the soft white of the egg, and also inside of that the yolk that melted like sweet potato mousse was soft and lovely.
“Royal……Ah, this fried egg is too delicious. Minjoon. Thank you. Anyway, why from the royal room? Maybe…..”
Emily glanced at Rachel. Jeremy smacked his lips.
“A rose is still a rose even after it withers. Looking that there are still people looking for it.”
“Do it properly. Badmouth me or praise me.”
“Originally, spicing things up like this is my specialty. I took 20 years on deciding whether to become a chef or an epicurean.”
“A capricious person looks for changes. So you can even say that the virtue of a chef is capricious. ……Thinking about it, I’m not a chef anymore.”
At those words, Jo Minjoon burst out of laughter, which he was holding in. Jeremy put on a smile as if he was proud.
“It seems like the Minjoon you want that much likes my jokes quite well.”
“You are a funny person mister Jeremy.”
In the end, at the last words, Rachel lowered her head with a depressed face. Jeremy clicked his tongue.
“You thought you could easily get the heart of a young man at your age?”
“Jeremy. At least by thinking of our age, how about you get some dignity?”
“It’s funny for those words to come out of you. When I went to Rose Island back then and said that the flavor of the water was strange, what did you say? That if I cleaned off the dregs off my mouth, and cleaned the washed off the sickening smell clogged in my throat, only then would it taste better. Anyways, I don’t think that the protagonist of that story should be saying such things.”
“Just from when was that………!”
“From when? It’s a story that hasn’t even been 20 years and it’s still clear for me. Oh, Minjoon. This mango glutinous rice is quite good. As it has condensed milk it’s even better. If you pour some brewed soy sauce I think that the aroma will get better.”
Jeremy teased Rachel with a relaxed attitude and even talked nonsense from start to end. Jo Minjoon looked at that and kept bursting out of laughter. Compared to the age his attitude was a bit light, but even so he didn’t dislike this man.
But to that Jo Minjoon, Sera whispered in a low voice.
“Don’t like him that much. Later on you will get wounded by him.”
“Jeremy Bennett is a famous person in the tasting world known as the one with the worst malicious remarks. If someone seems to be rising, the restaurants are on an emergency state just like if the president had come.”
Listening to that, his playful and pleasant feeling was also seen differently. Anderson’s expressions caught his eye. He was looking at Jeremy with an uncomfortable expression. At first, he wondered if it was simply because he teased Jeremy but as more time passed he realized that that was not the case.
“Has Jeremy gone to your parent’s store?”
“…….You should know it, but my parents are quite the famous ones. If you were an epicurean working in the US and didn’t come to our restaurants, you would be two kind of people: an impostor or a liar.”
“Did he say something bad?”
“That’s the basic option. Back then, it was when I was working in the hall, serving, and not in the kitchen………Ah, leave it. He’s really tenacious.”
If it was to the point that Anderson said that he was tenacious, how much would he be? Jo Minjoon tilted his head.
“Even so he isn’t saying anything at the meal I prepared.”
“It’s free. Where would a person be that said bad things to a dish he didn’t even pay. But if he has been charged with at least 1 dollar…… I will leave the last part to your imagination.”
I couldn’t imagine at all however much he heard that this old man that ate the pad thai with a smile from a really good person was actually a devil-like person. Sera asked with a voice filled with excitement.
“But if it’s the royal kingdom we will have to go to Bangkok?”
“Yes. It’s two hours by car.”
“It’s not as far as what I thought. But what do we do when we get there? Do we have some to protect some manners?”
“They don’t look for basic manners on foreigners.”
In the middle of that conversation the meal ended, and she came forwards saying that she was going to wash the dishes, not appropriate to her sexy and arrogant image. Emily seemed to be aware of that Emily, so she stood up in front of the sink and washed the dishes, but her hands were quite sloppy.
‘A woman that suits the rubber glove and a woman that doesn’t.’
It was a funny picture. Jo Minjoon looked at Sera’s window.
Cooking Level : 5
Baking Level : 6
Tasting Level : 8
Decoration Level : 5
It was amazing. She wasn’t even a chef or a wannabe, but she excelled in baking and cooking. Compared to Emily, her tasting level was one level lower, but looking at it with another point of view she was able to climb to that place at that young age. Sera’s age was 24. In Korea, she was still 25. She was only two years older than him.
“Why are you looking at me like that?”
“……..Do you have eyes on your back?”
“Oh, I just said it. You certainly were. See Emily? Men can’t take their eyes off a woman’s back washing the dishes.”
At the feeling he had been fooled, Jo Minjoon looked at the two of them with a perplexed face. Sera turned her head and then smiled brightly while looking at him.
“I can’t say I don’t like it.”
Jo Minjoon said that and smirked. It was a bad joke, but he didn’t feel that displeased. It wasn’t because Sera was a beauty, but because of the charm she had. She had an ability to lead people on her pace without any rejection. Emily pouted.
“Uhh, whatever with the back. I still can’t get accustomed to this feeling. Why do you put rubber gloves? Isn’t it more comfortable to do it without them?”
“After you get eczema you will understand it.”
At Emily’s grumbling, Sera instead replied in a calm voice. Jo Minjoon didn’t hide his amazed feelings.
“It seems like you did it a lot of times. Such as washing dishes.”
“Why? You thought that I only grew up finely because I’m pretty?”
“Honestly you don’t look like you would grow by doing hard work.”
At the non-pretentious words Sera laughed.
“That’s true. I did grow up finely. But I liked cooking and at least I’m the type to clean up what I do. So I can naturally do the dishes myself. And you? Watching Grand Chef you didn’t give the feeling like learned elsewhere, did you practice at home alone?”
“Yes. I copied the recipes uploaded on the internet.”
“We are comrades. I also did it like that.”
“It seems like you are more interested in baking rather than cooking, am I right?”
“Huh? How did you know it?”
“My senses are a bit good.”
Jo Minjoon smirked and replied. There were more rooms to use the system in a fun way than what he had thought.
‘Will there also be more functions in cooking?’
He didn’t have the time to finish his pondering. The dishes got washed, and the staff provided them with a 6 person car. And of course, they had to drive themselves. At first Jo Minjoon offered to grab the handle, but Anderson didn’t get pushed off the driver’s seat.
“Tell me if you are tired. I will drive.”
“You should be tired because you cooked since dawn. Just shut up and take a nap.”
“I’m not that sleepy…..”
Even while he had said that, Jo Minjoon fell asleep not long after he sat in the seat. When he got a hold of himself Anderson was shaking his shoulder.
“Wake up. We arrived.”
“Uh…..Huh? We arrived?”
“There’s no need to put a sorry face. It wasn’t that tiring. Let’s go.”
It wasn’t that they had simply arrived at Bangkok. They were in front of the royal palace. Looking at the high fence that was right next to the car, Jo Minjoon exclaimed.
“Wow…..It really feels like the place where the king would live.”
The palace seemed quite special and it was obviously magnificent. But the overall feeling was quite despaired. The roofs that gave off an Indian feeling and were over the European-like building. The golden roof tiles and the buddha statues were quite impressive.
As they passed over the tourists and got inside the palace, people dressed in black greeted them. There was no way they could now if they were security or simple palace employees. Anderson moved his feet with a stiffened face. No, it wasn’t only Anderson. Excluding Rachel and Jeremy, everyone seemed nervous. Even Martin was gulping when he could from the back.
Jo Minjoon couldn’t calm his beating heart. Rather than feeling flustered of meeting the king, he kept smiling because of the soon to meet food. Palace food. And that wasn’t a representation of a long time ago, but food that the actual king was eating would come. Even if it was an outstanding epicurean, it was something they wouldn’t be able to experience easily.
They walked. They passed the hall, the passage, the elevator….and opened the door.
And the king was over there.
The Thai king was an old man that looked like a researcher and was the same as to what they saw in the posters. They eyes that shone calmly seemed stubborn and daring. After they greeted each other and sat in front of the table, the king looked at Rachel quite few times. On his eyes, yearning and regret that seemed to be looking at his long friend was filled. He opened his mouth. His English was as fluent as a native’s.
“I do go to some Rose Islands branches. But even so I can’t do anything about missing the atmosphere and the flavor of the main one.”
“I’m sorry. Looking at that, I feel that I did something that shouldn’t have been done to a regular customer.”
“Aren’t you planning on resurrecting the main store?”
“The reason why the main branch could be differentiated with the others was because of Daniel. The reason why I closed the main branch wasn’t simply because of the shock of having lost my husband, but also because I knew the void my husband left. …..That’s why I’m dreaming right now that before I leave this world to meet my husband, I want to resurrect that shadow in this world one more time.”
Rachel’s eyes hovered on top of Jo Minjoon for a moment and turned to look at the king again. And the king didn’t miss that motion. He asked with a gentle voice.
“And are you confident on being able to do so?”
“I did see some light. That’s why I got out of my house and came all the way here. If you first want to catch that light, you will have to first stand up regardless of where you want to go.”
“I hope that it becomes like that before I die. Recently, my health became dangerous. I want to feel that feeling again before I die.”
“Don’t say something weak. You know my past temperament. That the weaker you sound, rather than comforting I like to get angrier.”
“That’s right. I will have to slowly control my mouth if I don’t want to get punished.”
The king talked like that and then smiled towards the queen that was sitting next to him. The expression of the queen that was bad since he said something about dying, smiled faintly as if she couldn’t do anything about him.
It was at that moment that the dishes came. And everyone could only show perplexed looks. As it was the royalty they thought that a luxurious meal would obviously appear, but what was placed in front of them was only one dish. Precisely speaking, there was only one meal dish. In the middle of the table there were several things such as papaya, guava, various fruits, crepe-like desserts, and cakes placed. Only, they couldn’t see any other side dishes or main dishes.
The people hid their confusion and looked at the dishes. They thought that there would be some kind of reason they would be treated like this on the royal room.
The thing on the plate was quite familiar. Because of the aroma of the lemon grass and the red colour of it, at first he thought that it was going to be tom yum kum, but looking at it well he didn’t see any shrimps. For now, it was certainly a sort of tom yum. Because on the tire of tom yum it held the meaning of ‘spicy and sour soup.’
But the thing that it contained wasn’t shrimp or chicken, but meatball. It was a really unfamiliar combination with tom yum and everyone got surprised at that point. However Jo Minjoon was focusing on another point. His eyes were wet in joy as if he had discovered a gem.
On a place he hadn’t expected at all an unexpected score popped. He guessed that the levels of the chefs would obviously be low as they worked in the palace, but he had never expected that they would be able to make a 10-point dish with tom yum. Because it was a dish that was like hot stew(매운탕) or Seolleongtang(설렁탕) in Korea.
“In Thailand you normally eat food along with side dishes, or also put many ingredients in a soup just like this. We pondered on how we should treat you when we invited you, but we thought that it would certainly be the best to serve you with the best dish in our palace. It would be good if it suited your tastes.”
He understood. It was a 10-point dish. There was no need to serve it with other dishes and mess that impression. And, all the happiness a person could feel was sent through his tongue in just this one dish. It wasn’t only because it was a 10-point dish, but because of the characteristics a thai dish basically had. Sweet, sour, salty, and spicy flavor. Especially for tom yum, it was the best dish in Thailand that could express those four flavors the best.
Jo Minjoon raised his spoon as if he was possessed. As he slowly put a meatball in his mouth, the meatball resisted for a moment and soon it crumbled like pudding. The juices and the broth that were in it flowed in an instant, and the flavor of the meatball was felt clearly. Shrimp, tofu, and probably pork fat. Maybe it was because it had pork fat, but the toughness of the meatball was more chewy and the contents were also massed together. It was a flavor that you would feel moved even while only eating the meatball.
Below the dish, there were noodles hidden. The moment he ate that, he could also know that it wasn’t a normal one. Because he could feel a familiar flavor inside of it. Jo Minjoon got amazed and said.
“This is Omyeon?” (A type of noodle)
“Yes. That’s right. It’s a secret weapon we make only for special guests.”
The king laughed softly and said. Omyeon. It was a noodle made with fish meat just like you would make fish paste. Obviously, he felt the aroma of fish every time he chewed, and when he ate ate the bean sprouts, mushrooms, radish, etc. he felt satisfaction as if he was eating food wrapped in lettuce.
The people didn’t say anything for a long while and just concentrated on eating. They didn’t want to pay attention to another thing that was not the dish. Only after they half-emptied the dish did Jeremy admire and say.
“It’s really a flavor it reached it’s peak. There are many cases with tom yum that they only focus on the stimulation and can’t get the main center of it, but it’s a flavor I can feel the long time.”
“It can only be like that. It’s a recipe continued since my father. Actually, if you want to know the origins of this dish, I have to tell you the eating habits my father had since small. My father couldn’t eat sea food well, and so my grandfather wished to fix that. He ordered to make the perfect dish that would fix this and……the chefs of the palace pondered and investigated for months.”
“……A dish made to fix his eating habit has this perfect of a flavor?”
“You can consider it like that, but you can also see it this way. A dish that you can only reach your hands to it even when it has ingredients you don’t like. But of course there was also the strategy to mash shrimp or fish meat and make it like a meatball, and the basics were delicious. As it was delicious, my father could also lessen the rejection he felt towards seafood. And after that, we reformed it time and time again for tens of years. We call this tom yum thai.”
“Anyone that eats this won’t be able to think that they dislike seafood.”
Jo Minjoon talked like that and drank a spoonful of the soup. After that, he asked for permission, and he drank the soup while placing his mouth in it. It wasn’t only Jo Minjoon that was like that, Emily, Anderson, and even Sera did it. The king looked at them with satisfied eyes as if he was looking at his nieces. It was then that Rachel opened her mouth carefully.
“We received really good treatment. That’s why I want to return it back.”
“Return it back?”
“But of course, it’s only on the case when the situation allows it……And if it is possible.”
Rachel looked down at her hands. And soon said with a determined voice.
“I would like to treat you to dinner tonight.”
< In the royal room (1) > End
Translator’s note: Thanks for reading!
If you like this novel, please support the author, translator, and editor~ ♥
Translator : Subak
Proofreader : Saihikawa