Putting aside the staring of the guide, Jo Minjoon and Rachel slowly entered the store. The walls were white, and the store gave a refreshing fell due to the bright wooden planks nailed like frames on the floor.
The workers yelled with an energetic voice. Rachel and Jo Minjoon didn’t know how to speak Japanese, but even so, they understood that those were welcoming words.
The restaurant, which wasn’t that wide, was filled with quite a lot of customers. It was a bit difficult for all of the staff to enter. The worker also looked at their numbers and the cameras and put on a disapproving face. The worker then started to converse with Martin through the guide. After a while, Martin said.
“It seems like it is difficult for all of the staff to enter. First Rachel and Minjoon, the two of you go in……. I will hold the camera.”
Martin spoke like that and after receiving a small hand recorder through the staff, he smiled brightly. The three of them went to a table right next to the kitchen where the chefs were standing at, and had a bar-like shape. As they sat down, a man that seemed to be in his fifties opened his mouth.
“You are foreigners. Did you come to sightsee?”
Although it was filled with a Japanese dialect, there was no problem understanding it. Rachel smiled softly and opened her mouth.
“We are broadcasting while sightseeing.”
“To work and rest at the same time, you would feel quite weird. I am Yamamoto Kenji. You can just call me Yamamoto.”
“Ah, Rachel Rose.”
“I’m Jo Minjoon.”
“I thought you were Japanese, but you were Korean.”
Yamamoto looked at Jo Minjoon for a moment as if it was unexpected. Jo Minjoon also looked at him. No, precisely speaking, he looked at his stats. Cooking level 7. Honestly speaking, compared to the average, it wasn’t that amazing.
But while thinking that more than half of the dishes he had made was sushi, he didn’t know if that level was amazing or not. Perhaps, if he could see his skill window he would have been able to see a phrase like ‘Comprehension towards sushi – mastery 85%’. Jo Minjoon slightly opened his mouth.
“There was something I wished to eat the first, will it be okay?”
“If there’s something you want, we make it on the spot.”
“What I want is egg sushi.”
At Jo Minjoon’s words, Rachel looked at him as if she couldn’t understand. It was a famous saying that if you wanted to know the level of a sushi store, you had to eat egg sushi. However, didn’t Jo Minjoon judge that he was going to enter this restaurant after looking at the texture of the fish? Then, there was no need to eat egg sushi to know the level.
But the reaction of Yamamoto that followed next to that made Rachel a bit surprised.
“You are lucky. Actually, real regular customers always eat at least one egg sushi when they come.”
“Egg sushi? Is it special compared to other places?”
“What will there be? I was just loyal to the basics.”
“Mm……Give me one, too.”
“Yes, I understand.”
Egg sushi wasn’t made on the spot. While placing an egg sushi, soy sauce, and ginger on the tray, Yamamoto said with a voice.
“We don’t give more than one egg sushi to a customer. There are many that find it, but the amount we can make on a day is limited. And there are several people that come late and are not able to eat it.”
As he spoke like that, it already made their mouths nervous. Jo Minjoon looked at the egg sushi.
Origin: (Hidden because there are too many ingredients)
Cooking Score: 8/10
There was no difference in the score he saw from outside. But when he saw it from closer, amazement came out of its own. The moist inside meat, which was as smooth as if it was cut with a ruler, showed itself and the exterior was showing a pretty brown color as if it was a well-cooked caster. That texture wasn’t rough but smooth. Jo Minjoon opened his mouth.
“It just seems like grated Sapporo.”
“When cooking egg rolls, if you maintain the temperature of the pan balanced, the exterior of the egg is also cooked smoothly. To do that, we cook the egg on a pan that was slowly heated with straw fire.
Jo Minjoon put the egg sushi in his mouth. As he put it in his mouth, there was no such thing as flavor magic. However, the juice that flowed out when it was crushed by the ceiling of the mouth, teeth, and tongue seeped through the pores of their tongue.
[You have grasped the egg sushi recipe of Yamamoto!]
‘This flavor…….it’s crazy.’
It was so stimulative that he couldn’t’ even see the alarm of the system.
In the other hand, Yamamoto was looking how Jo Minjoon and Rachel ate. In Jo Minjoon’s case, he made the egg touch his tongue, and Rachel tilted the sushi so she could touch the egg and the rice with her tongue at the same time. Yamamoto said with a calm voice.
“Miss Rachel is the type to perfectly investigate a flavor when you feel it.”
“Are you saying that because of how I tilted it?”
“Yes. People that want to feel all the flavor a sushi has favors doing that. In the other hand, people that want to fall in the flavor deeply chooses Mr. Minjoon’s method.”
“You are a funny person. As an answer, may I analyze this egg roll?”
“And what you want to analyze is……?”
Yamamoto looked at Jo Minjoon with an interesting face. Jo Minjoon smiled faintly and replied.
“I was wondering if I was able to say what was in this egg roll. Actually, the two of us are chefs.”
“I knew that from the start. The scars in your hands are the ones from chefs. Get the ingredients right……If it’s a path of fun for the customer, I will do anything. However, it will be quite difficult to get it right.”
A confident smile appeared on Yamamoto’s face. There were many people that tried to get the cooking method for this egg roll right. On top of that, there were even people that kept coming to this store for several months to eat the one sushi per day.
It wasn’t a recipe this young youth could grasp after a bite. At that thought, Yamamoto looked at that youth. But after a while, Yamamoto’s eyes couldn’t help but shake.
“Oil and stock. First, it seems like it’s these two things that are different from other places.”
He got it right immediately. But Yamamoto didn’t get astounded. He soon replied with a calm voice.
“If there’s something you can find a difference on an egg roll it will be just that. Isn’t it kind of obvious? That much……”
“Yes. It may be obvious. Then, am I able to carve in deeper?”
Yamamoto hesitated for a moment. The moment he said that it was okay, he felt that the methods of cooking the egg roll for tens of years would be revealed in an instant. But there was no way that would happen. However sensitive a tongue of a person was, it was impossible to grasp the composition with just tasting it once. Yamamoto soon calmed his heart and answered.
“Do it however much you want if you can.”
“Chestnut oil and pine nut oil.”
Jo Minjoon answered immediately. Yamamoto’s face hardened. Jo Minjoon continued saying with a calm voice.
“There’s nine-parts pine nut oil and one-part chestnut oil. You mixed the two and cooked the egg over the mixed oil. After beating each egg, you put… half a spoon of stock. Should I also say the composition of the stock?”
Yamamoto couldn’t answer immediately. No, he didn’t have the mind to do so. He could understand sensing the aroma of the chestnut oil and pine nut oil because it was easy. But getting the ratio and the amount of stock in one egg right was something he couldn’t even imagine. Yamamoto looked at his surroundings with a trembling voice.
“This…..Is it something like a hidden camera?”
“No. It’s just a normal restaurant visiting program.”
“Then just how……This doesn’t make sense.”
“He has an absolute sense of taste.”
Rachel answered with a calm voice. At those words, Yamamoto looked at Rachel and Jo Minjoon with round eyes. Yamamoto said with a trembling voice.
“He can know everything he eats, does that mean this?”
“Yes. This kid is quite famous in America. I also know that he’s quite famous in the next country, Korea.”
It didn’t take long for the chaos in Yamamoto’s face to change to expectation and excitement. He didn’t have any reasons to not believe in it. If that was a lie, how would he be able to get the recipe right so easily?
Rather than getting angry, he felt his chest boil. Painters need people that understand their drawings, and chefs also need people to precisely taste their food. Yamamoto said with a voice filled with ambition.
“If that really is true……..Can you tell me what kind of feeling my egg sushi gave you?”
“It was delicious. For now, I can certainly tell you that. It was good to the point that I wondered if there was sushi better than this one. The texture was funny maybe because of the rice grains that were placed flatly…….and the egg was really soft and moist as a caster wet in the egg. It was a good sushi. I want to quickly eat the next one…..”
“Ah, yes. Of course. But before that, eat one ginger.”
“Are you talking about this?”
Jo Minjoon turned his head. The thin ginger was placed on a small plate. Yamamoto nodded.
“It weakens flavors, and it’s a simmered ginger that strengthens the aroma of ginger. When you eat sushi with a mouth that has eaten that, you will feel the flavor to be really different.”
Jo Minjoon and Rachel grabbed one ginger each and ate it. Rachel said while being amazed.
“It’s not at the level that it weakens the previous flavor. Only elegance remains in my mouth, and I feel like it cleans up the sweet and sour flavor from my mouth.”
“It’s not only that. The vinegar doesn’t seem to be a normal one. Sudachi. There’s sudachi juice in it. And it’s not a normal one at that….. But a slightly less ripe sudachi with a stronger flavor. Am I wrong?”
Yamamoto’s mouth trembled and rose. He had thrown away his doubts before, but as he spoke like this the certainness in Jo Minjoon’s taste became even deeper. You could figure out that it was sudachi. But how could you know that it wasn’t completely ripe? But of course, he used a less ripe sudachi because of the difference in flavors, but it was to the point that he got goosebumps at Jo Minjoon’s taste getting that right.
‘It’s not something I should think about a customer but……a monster has appeared in my kitchen.’
He didn’t feel this to be real to the point that he wondered if perhaps he was a nine-tailed fox. But if it was a dream, it was good by its own. He wanted to get an opinion from the monster that had an absolute sense of taste.
Yamamoto opened his mouth.
“There are many conditions for a good sushi. Fish suitable for each season, quality, careful care, and delicate kniving; as well as delicious rice grains and well-split wasabi. Will you try this wasabi?”
Wasabi the size of a grain was placed in Jo Minjoon’s and Rachel’s dishes. It was when they were waiting for the pain of the spicy flavor that was soon to come and put the wasabi in their mouths. Jo Minjoon’s eyes became big. It was sweet. It certainly was wasabi, but he felt like he just had put cream with sugar in his mouth. Of course, after a while, the sharp spicy flavor pinched his nose, but the shock of the sweet flavor was too deep.
“The wasabi…..is sweet. What happened?”
“Looking at how you speak, it seems like you haven’t gone to a good sushi store. An industrial one and a handmade one is completely different. And there are cases that restaurants mix rice powder, starch, etc. in the wasabi. But wasabi of good quality can give a deep flavor like this just with grating it well. Of course.”
Yamamoto raised a steel sheet. It was a steel sheet that looked like it was made with the leather of something. On top of that, when he put chili in it and slowly turned it clockwise, the wasabi started to grate down softly without any sound.
“The direction and strength of grating are also important. Because the moment you damage the structure, the flavor scatters.”
“…….Does flavor vary that much with something that simple?”
“Look at the faces of the people. When the eyes are longer by a rice grain length, the look changes. Wasabi and sushi are the same. If it’s fine, may I recommend you the next sushis?”
“Ah, yes. I will be asking you.”
As soon as Yamamoto got the permission, he took out a tunny from a side. The side had soot as if it was cooked with direct fire, and the other side had the meat intact as if it was just cooked with smoke.
“It’s tunny cooked in a straw fire, just like they did it in the Edo era. Tunny is a fish with a lot of blood, so it’s hard to completely erase the fishy smell. That’s why we catch the smell of the tunny with the smoke of the straw fire.”
Yamamoto’s sashimi knife calmly split the skin of the tunny. How sharply was the knife sharpened that the part of the skin was about to crumble but didn’t? The sashimi knife sliced the tunny without any resistance just like it was slicing butter.
The next was the normal step. He put water in his hands and gripped the rice with the shape of an arc. He smeared wasabi in the tunny and gripped it along with rice to make the shape of a pretty fan.
He thought that only the egg sushi was going to be like that, but it seemed like that wasn’t the case. Perhaps it was because, different from the other sushis, it had met fire so it had more process for the score to raise. It was when Jo Minjoon extended his fingers to grab the sushi placed on the dish. Yamamoto shook his head.
“You can’t eat it yet. You have to wait until the temperature of the rice and the fish becomes similar to each other. This temperature is really important. This is how people that eat sushi right in front of the kitchen and people that receive dishes in the hall feel different flavors even while eating the same sushi. That’s why personally, I feel stifled when looking at places that sell assorted sushi. When you make it like that, you will never be able to feel the real flavor of sushi. Ah, you can eat it now. Personally, I recommend eating it with the rice facing it downwards. It’s slow, but it’s the method you can feel the flavor of sushi more clearly.”
Jo Minjoon extended his hand. Maybe it was a consideration that he was right handed that the angle of the sushi was perfect for him to grab it comfortably. It was then that he put the sushi in his mouth.
The soy sauce, that was at the end of the rice, spread over his tongue, and the smoked tunny meat and grilled part of the skin poured various flavors in an instant. On top of that, when added the sweet and spicy flavor of wasabi, and the unique flavor of rice……It was to the point that you wondered if you were able to melt in more flavors than this in one bite. The cooking score was 8. But the flavor wasn’t a simple 8.
‘Is this……..the strength of a master that worked in only one field.’
He had always thought of this. A western chef that didn’t stand in the work himself but regularized the general flow. Using Korea as an example, a chef that spent all their life in only one field like kalguksu (칼국수) or rice soup(국밥), and in Japan udon, ramen, etc. Among them, who would be able to present a more ideal flavor?
At a time he thought that the latter would be much better. Because he thought that even if he managed as a head chef, it would be difficult to put in displays his skills if he didn’t grab the pan himself. But he changed his thought when he met Rachel. She made him realize that as long as there is a head chef, all the members in their kitchen are no different than the hands of the head chef themselves.
However, Yamamoto’s sushi threw him at that question again. Although his cooking level was 7, it wasn’t only that for sushi. 8, or perhaps 9. Kniving and fire, and maintenance of ingredients or handling rice and wasabi. In each and every one of that, it was difficult to control the delicacy. It was an art that had a whole life melted in it.
‘If I can make all of that mine……’
Greed made him famished.
< The hands of a master (2) > End
TL:Once again sponsored by Cody B. Thanks cody!
Translator : Subak
Proofreader : Saihikawa