‘Even if they say that there are many extraordinary people in the world…..’
He couldn’t imagine that he would encounter someone with a cooking level 9 this suddenly. An old man that was in the kitchen approached them slowly. He had a shaved head with mixed black and white hair that made it look gray, and some wrinkles at the side of his mouth that made him look stubborn.
“You a customer?”
It was japanese. The guide approached them and was about to translate those words. And as he saw that they didn’t answer, he seemed to have realized and english got out of his mouth. The pronunciation and accent was so smooth that it couldn’t be comparable to Yamamoto.
“You don’t know japanese. Can you speak english?”
“Ah, yes. You speak english really well.”
“So, who are the customers and who are not?”
Higanoshi’s eyes passed over Jo Minjoon and Rachel and moved to the staff. Jo Minjoon and Rachel couldn’t reply to that question. Martin slightly looked at his surroundings. It wasn’t that wide, but it was enough for all the staff to get accommodated. He opened his mouth.
“We all are customers. Is it okay for the camera to also come in?”
“I don’t care if you just don’t make a fuss.”
Higashino answered with a blunt voice. It was quite a mean attitude taking into account that he was treating a customer, but was it because he saw his cooking level. Jo Minjoon thought that Higashino’s attitude was acceptable.
Jo Minjoon pulled his body to the table bar in front of Higashino.
“You don’t have a menu?”
“No. If you have something you want, just say it. I will make you everything if we have the ingredients.”
Rachel put on a perplexed face. She had visited several high class restaurants in her not short life but this was the first case that they entrusted the menu itself to the customers. It was then. Jo Minjoon slowly opened his mouth.
Katsudon. Tonkatsu and rice. It wasn’t a dish he liked. He didn’t dislike food like Gyūdon or oyakodon, and he liked tonkatsu. But it was hard for him to like katsudon.
And the reason was simple. Katsudon is the hardest among rice bowl dishes with toppings. The reason was simple. You had to bring out the crispiness on the fry while smearing sauce in it. Although it may seem simple with words, actually doing it was difficult with ordinary skills.
To say nothing of a local store. You wouldn’t know about other dishes, but he had never seen a store that cooked katsudon properly. In addition not even in hometown Japan, Jo Minjoon hadn’t been able to see a katsudon above cooking level 6 through the windows….So there was nothing more to speak.
Higashino nodded as if he understood and then looked at Rachel. Rachel put on a perplexed face for a moment. When her hands touching her chin stopped, she opened her mouth.
“Grilled atka mackerel. And also a kochi. With chicken heart, meatball, and a lot of variety above that.”
Higashino also took the order of the orders. Among them, there were people that asked for hamburger or pasta, but he didn’t say no to no one. Jo Minjoon saw that and gulped. He thought he could understand why Yamamoto had it difficult to express the identity of this store properly.
He took in the orders of more than 10 people and then entered the kitchen and started to cook. There weren’t even 10 gas burners, but he didn’t hurry. He boiled water and oil, heated the frying pan and sliced the vegetables.
There were no assistants. It was an amazing thing to just let it pass like nothing. Although there were no people when they entered, there may also be a time when the tables were filled. Even right now was like that. Higashino was in charge of more than ten people all alone.
‘On top of that all the menus…..’
Jo Minjoon opened his eyes abruptly and looked at what Higashino did. His job was strange. If you were a normal chef, when orders came flocking in like this, doing three dishes at the same time was a limit. If you had to do more than that, the orders inside your head could only get tangled up.
But Higashino was different. It wasn’t that his hands were fast to the point his eyes couldn’t see it. But just never stopped. He prepared all the ingredients needed in the orders, and didn’t waste time in one place.
Jo Minjoon looked at Higashino as if he was dreaming. If there was a regulation in the kitchen and Rachel Rose and Jo Minjoon were the previous best, Higashino was showing a look worthy of praise as a 1 man worker.
If that kind of person was level 9, then what kind of dimension would someone at level 10 be at?
And after a while, a katsudon was placed in front of Jo Minjoon.
Freshness : 97%
Origin : (Hidden, too many ingredients)
Quality : High
Cooking Score : 9/10
He understood that the cooking score was 9. Because katsudon was a dish that you had work really hard in its processes, taking into account that it was a rice bowl dish. There was a lot of room to increase the score. But the important thing was the flavor. The spoon got extended slowly in his nervousness.
The katsudon made by Higashino gave a different feeling to the ordinary ones. First, the rice had a brown color as if it was soaked in soy sauce. It just seem like India’s nasi goreng, and the flavor was also like that. But it wasn’t that it was dry and hard like nasi goreng. The combination of the soft and sticky rice covered by the egg and onions was really nice.
In the case of the tonkatsu, a flavor he didn’t expect at all came out. It was crispy. But it wasn’t with the meaning of the crispiness of normal tonkatsus.Just like a cookie, but a crispness that wasn’t hard and was soft was felt every time he chewed. If it wasn’t wet in soup, it would have been felt hard.
Jo Minjoon opened his eyes wide and put only the tonkatsu in his mouth this time. The flavor he felt every time he chewed the fry wasn’t unfamiliar. And at that time, he thought he could know the secret of it. 9 points. Although he couldn’t know the recipe, he felt like he could know it just with the flavor. Jo Minjoon looked at Higashino and asked.
“The batter coating…..did you put in water brewed with green onions in it?”
“…….Your tongue is quite sensitive.”
Higashino looked at Jo Minjoon with strange eyes. At that moment, a pleasant feeling ran down his Jo Minjoon’s spine. There were many reasons for it. The flavor of the katsudon in his mouth was one of it, realizing the secret of the batter coat without the help of the system, and the last one thing.
‘To be able to cook like this…….’
He felt like the world had widened. It was then. Rachel looked at Higashino with curious eyes.
“You seem quite familiar…..Do we know each other?”
“No, but I do know you. Rachel Rose. I thought that you had retired.”
At Higashino’s calm voice, Rachel opened her eyes widely as if she was surprised. And then smiled faintly.
“Well, I was a bit famous back then. But the problem is that I think that I also know you.”
“I have worked in the japanese embassy for a bit. Perhaps, you……”
“The japanese embassy! Certainly. I thought that someone able to bring this flavor shouldn’t have a normal past. Perhaps, I may have walked past you back then.”
“The meat, it will turn bad if it cools.”
Even if you put on a welcoming smile, as he replied with a blunt attitude, it was hard to add some more words. Rachel put on the grilled fish in her mouth with an unsatisfied face. And then looked around slightly. Jo Minjoon was looking at her grilled mackerel with burning eyes.
“Why, do you want to eat?”
“……Ah, I can’t. I’m already full…… I think that eating all of the katsudon will be my limit.”
Honestly speaking, he was thinking of going to the toilet to vomit everything and eat again. But he couldn’t do so. Jo Minjoon looked at his surroundings. Dishes of various colors. Hamburger, tomato pasta, grilled salted mackerel, tofu in soy sauce and of course the vienna sausage all looked delicious.
It could only be like that. It wasn’t that it had splendid sculptures along like Rachel did. Only that the dishes didn’t have any flaws. The tofu was smooth and wasn’t broken at all, and in the cases of the vienna sausage or grilled fish, etc. it had a simple but delicate and ideal knife marking in it.
But that was just too suitable. It wasn’t excessive nor lacked. A decoration that precisely stimulated your desire to eat. Even the shape of the light soy sauce spreading over the codfish dish seemed like a paint that a painter dropped on purpose over the drawing.
“A while ago….so i’m speaking at the semi finals. When I was left with Kaya, ANderson and Chloe…….We spoke about what kind of restaurant we wanted to run.”
“And what kind of restaurant did you want to run?”
“One just like this one. A quiet and cozy place. That when customers come and tell me the dish they want, I cook it if it’s possible. But honestly speaking, even if this is a wish, it’s not a dream.”
“And why don’t you dream about this?”
“It’s not realistic. Of course, this store is amazing……but honestly speaking I think that it is possible because of the amazing skills mr. Higashino has. And to get that skill, it will take tens of years. I’m really greedy.I want to cook all of the rare and precious ingredients in the world under the most perfect kitchen tools. I don’t want to be in a silent countryside kitchen, but a kitchen that’s filling with people like a city. Perhaps, that may not be the greed of a chef, and may have to concentrate on handling the ingredients in front of me as well as mr. Higashino………”
Jo Minjoon looked at his fist holding the spoon. His eyes trembled slightly.
“I can’t do anything about my urgent feeling. I want to walk a bit faster, and farther if possible. Is this a bad thought?”
Rachel extended her hand with a regretful face and placed it on Jo Minjoon’s back. Rachel’s hands softly stroke his back. She asked.
“What do you think about me?”
“That do you think my dream is? As a chef.”
“……Mm, don’t you want to resurrect Rose Island just like when your husband was alive?”
“Then, am I calm or urgent?”
Jo Minjoon couldn’t reply hurriedly. He was careful about judging her teacher’s emotions as he wished. However, Rachel’s eyes were calmly urging for his answer. In the end he could only open his mouth.
“Are you……in a hurry?”
Rachel replied shortly. SHe also had her age. But of course, being in your sixties nowadays wasn’t being that old, but you didn’t know when an illness would appear. It was a useless worry, but she couldn’t do anything about feeling uneasy. A day faster. She wanted to restore the sight of those days.
“But I don’t dislike this urgency of mine. Because every day that passes, the regret I feel makes me remember the worth tomorrow has. So don’t blame your urgency. Although you may feel that your uneasiness may gulp you down……..It can rather become your food.”
“…..Thank you, teacher. I certainly feel more comfortable after hearing those words.”
“You are a cool man. And one day, you will also become a cool chef.”
Jo Minjoon opened his mouth as if trying to say something but he shut his mouth. He had something he wanted to say. But it was difficult to say it in front of Rachel’s warm expression. Jo Minjoon’s lips closed. And when his mouth opened again, the words that came out weren’t the ones he was going to say.
“My stomach is sending me a sign. I will have to empty my stomach. I will be able to eat more when there is more space.”
“……Aren’t you overdoing it? You can just rest.”
“No. It’s because these are dishes that make me want to eat it even if I have to do that. I will come back immediately.”
Jo Minjoon left. Rachel just put the fish in her mouth without saying anything. Every time it got chewed with her teeth, a blood flavor came out exploding just like a bomb. Rachel smirked and looked at Higashino.
“It’s a really good dish. Thank you.”
“I think that you have a really funny disciple.”
“Funny……Yes, he is. You saw that he got the water brewed with green onions right? He’s that sensitive of a kid. No, he’s not only sensitive. He may be able to guess everything that goes on a dish if he tries it.”
If people that didn’t know about it listened to it, they should have gotten surprised, but there was no change in Higashino’s expression. Rachel looked at him with a strange face.
“Aren’t you surprised? You already knew it? Or you can’t believe it?”
“There will be no reason for someone at your level to lie like that to tease an old man like me. I believe in you. But it’s not that I already knew.”
“But your reaction is quite calm.”
“Because it’s not something to get startled at.”
At Higashino’s blunt answer, Rachel looked at him as if it was somewhat regretful. It wasn’t even her ability, but did she find the fun on people getting surprised at Minjoon’s ability? Rachel opened her mouth.
“It is not? Someone with a sense that’s more outstanding than others ate your dish. Isn’t it obvious for you to get curious and ask his opinion?”
“It is a good thing. Having an absolute taste as a customer. But in the end he is also a customer. He’s not that special.”
“How is he not different? He can evaluate your dish in the most absolute and objective way.”
“What does that change then? If that youth says that my dish wasn’t delicious, does that mean that I have fed non delicious food to the people that visited my store all those years?”
“Of course that’s not it. But he will be able to feel a more precise flavor and on another dimension than other people.”
“There’s nothing absolute in food. And there’s also no low and high in food. If it’s someone like you, you should plentily know it.”
Higashino’s small eyes moved to Rachel. Although there was certainness in his eyes about what he had said, Rachel had her own certainness. Because she knew someone that lived in a completely different world of cooking. And that was her husband. If Higashino had also seen Daniel by his side……He wouldn’t be able to say the same things.
“No. There are high and lows. At least, that’s what I think.”
“Just what is it that pushes you to that inferiority complex?”
At the word inferiority complex, Rachel’s eyes became sharp. Higashino let out a sigh and shook his head.
“That was too heavy.”
“…….It’s fine. Instead, let me ask you a question. What’s the reason you opened up a restaurant like this?”
Higashino didn’t answer for a moment and just looked at Rachel. He could not answer if he didn’t want to. But he didn’t know why he couldn’t stay still. Higashino slowly opened his mouth.
“From a day, cooking felt like a homework to me. And I didn’t like that. I liked cooking, and if you like cooking you obviously have to play and enjoy with it. That’s why I opened up this restaurant.”
“I can’t do that.”
Rachel answered with a blunt voice. The meaning in her eyes were too determined that even Higashino flinched at that moment.
“The homework you didn’t solve and left it, I will have to solve it.”
Rachel’s eyes rolled slowly. And what those eyes saw was Jo Minjoon walking out of the toilet. A warm smile appeared in Rachel’s mouth.
“Along with that kid.”
< The hands of a master (5) > End
Translator : Subak
Proofreader : Saihikawa