Anderson frowned. He was giving him a weird name once again.
‘But he gave Kaya a nice one.’
He felt Jo Minjoon’s bright face to be unkind. Anderson shut his mouth and then loosened his fingers. Sushi. Although he spoke confidently, honestly speaking, he wasn’t accustomed to making it. Generally, for westerners, sushi was more like fast food rather than a luxurious dish. It was like a Japanese hamburger.
There was no way he would invest time to make fast food well. Even if he did make it at times because he was bored, that was all. And he thought that his skills would be no different than Jo Minjoon’s.
“But isn’t it more fun if there’s something at stake?”
The one to say that was Emily. Jo Minjoon spoke while washing his hands thoroughly with a wet towel.
“It’s one of the two. Bet some kind of penalty, or a prize. Personally, I prefer the latter. Do you have something to give us?”
Emily spoke like that and turned to look at Martin. Martin shrugged his shoulders.
“Even if you look at a poor PD like that, nothing will come out.”
“…….You got your answer. Let’s decide on the penalty.”
Jo Minjoon and Anderson exchanged nervous glances. Although they did act confident, neither of them had any particular experience making sushi. So not knowing who was going to win was also not knowing who was going to get the penalty. Jo Minjoon slightly opened his mouth.
“But do we need that? Even if we don’t……”
“No. We have. Look how the viewers are reacting.”
[Let’s shave your head. And don’t try to get out of this..]
[That’s going too far. How about starving for a day? Thinking about it, after eating like that, I don’t think they will even want to eat anymore.]
[It would be good if Kaya was there instead of Minjoon. A match while having Minjoon at stake! ……..Sorry.]
They were more interested at the penalty than they thought. No, thinking about it, it was obvious. They say that the funniest thing to watch in the world was fire and a fight, so if there was a penalty, wouldn’t it satisfy both of those things?
Anderson looked at Emily with resentful eyes. Emily put on a faint smile and said.
“Since the conversation has come to this point, then there’s only one answer. Just win.”
“…..What are you going to do about the penalty?”
“Oh, you are giving me the right to choose?”
Emily smiled with a meaning behind it. When uneasiness came to Anderson, Sera whispered in Emily’s ear. And then, the smile in Emily’s face became even denser. Jo Minjoon forced himself to act calm and opened his mouth.
“Do you have something?”
“I don’t know if I have to call it a penalty or a prize. This idea is from Sera, I don’t know if you will like it.”
“Don’t hit around the bush and speak, please. What is it?”
“A relationship of master and servant.”
“……I’m going crazy.”
Anderson’s face stiffened. But honestly speaking, it was fairly good to be a prize and a penalty. Anderson glared at Jo Minjoon with chilly eyes. Just what was this that they were going to such lengths. However, his expression was quite serious.
“Let’s do that.”
“Why? Do you have a problem with that?”
“No. That’s not it…..well, okay. Let’s do it. I’m going to win anyways.”
Anderson just smirked instead of answering.
Soon, the staff started to bring the tools Samuel gave them. There wasn’t anything special about the tools. Rice cooker, cutting board, knives, steel sheet, a whetstone. Other than that, there were only ingredients for the sushi. Jo Minjoon checked the blade of the knife and opened his mouth.
“Looking at the ingredients, it seems like you want us to win with only the basics.”
“Rather than that, I only had this much to bring. Do well. I’m also curious as to how your dishes will turn out.”
At Samuel’s answer, Jo Minjoon slowly checked at the ingredients. It seemed like they had to make the wasabi themselves, because it wasn’t grated and it had its root intact.
Jo Minjoon raised the wasabi and then started to stir it on the steel sheet clockwise. Having to stir wasabi in only one direction to bring a sweet flavor was something even people without much interest in sushi knew.
After grating the wasabi, it was now time to pick the fish. There were exactly two kinds of fish. Salmon and tuna. Both of them were the belly that had a lot of marbling.
“……..It’s quite a luxurious part for a newbie to handle. I’m sorry tuna, salmon.”
For the rice, it was already seasoned. In the end it seemed like what would differentiate the flavor in the sushi was on how they gripped the rice, their knife skills, and how suitably they smeared the wasabi and soy sauce in it.
He couldn’t even get help from the estimated cooking score from the system. What could be differentiated to be a recipe here would be the amount of wasabi and the amount of rice, but that wasn’t something that could be applied immediately even if you knew the recipe.
“Let’s ask one thing before we start.”
“What is it?”
“The rules. Do we have to place the first thing we make?”
Emily could not answer right away. In the first place, this competition that wasn’t really a competition was not something she had proposed. Emily looked around at the others. Rachel opened her mouth.
“Of course you cannot present something that is not perfect to the customers. Continue making it until you feel like it is perfect.”
“Yes, I understand.”
Rachel continued on. Anderson and Jo Minjoon looked at Rachel’s lips with a sharp gaze. Rachel slowly spoke.
“Chefs must also never waste ingredients. Since you will have made it with your own hands, whether the results are good or bad, make sure that the food you make will not end up in the trash can.”
She was beating around the bush, but in the end, she was telling them to eat it themselves. Jo Minjoon and Anderson nodded their heads.
The cooking started. Jo Minjoon first sliced the tuna belly into thin slices. The first cut was a failure. Rather than uniform thickness, one side was thick and the other side was thin. Of course, due to the section that was cut, even if he cut the next slice perfectly, the shape would be odd. Those failed pieces all ended up in Jo Minjoon’s mouth. He did not even dip them in soy sauce. There was no way he could use such luxury after ruining the ingredient.
Jo Minjoon sliced ten more times before grabbing the rice. Anderson was working at a similar pace. Of course, if you wanted to make sushi to simply eat, they would have had more than enough rice already made. However, both of them would not be satisfied with just that. After all, this was a competition. Furthermore, this was a competition between two people who accepted each other as their rival.
Shaping the rice was no easy task. It was difficult to match the correct amount of rice, and they had to make sure they did not squeeze it too tight and ruin the rice ball. On the other side, they also had to make sure it was not too light, because then the rice would not clump together properly and fall apart easily.
Of course, both of them had great hand techniques. To overcome that level of skill was not that hard. However, the experience of eating sushi at Yamamoto’s house was still fresh in Jo Minjoon’s mind. It was obvious that he could not replicate Yamamoto’s skill, as Yamamoto had been developing his skills his entire life. However, this couldn’t change the fact that Minjoon was not satisfied with his sushi. That was the same for Anderson.
Apply the appropriate amount of wasabi, meticulously squeeze the rice balls to the right consistency, and apply just the right amount of soy sauce. Why was such a simple task taking such a long time? Sera asked Emily in a slightly tired voice.
“……The two of them, aren’t they being too serious about this?”
“They’re chefs. They must be like that because their pride is on the line. Plus, you said it yourself last time; the two of them are rivals.”
Sera had a strange sensation. Like things were not going the way they were supposed to be going.
[Ah, I went for a walk. Is it over?]
[It’s over. Your walk that is.]
[Crazy. Hasn’t it already been over two hours?]
[To be specific, it has been about 1 hour and 40 minutes.]
Sera mindlessly stared at the chat window. 1 hour 40 minutes. 100 minutes. Yes, 100 minutes. It has been 100 minutes. It had been so long that over half of the food they had eaten could have been digested already. However, they still had not been able to taste Anderson and Jo Minjoon’s sushi.
“Just what… what kind of sushi are they trying so hard to make?”
Sera opened her mouth as if she could not understand. In the first place, she could not understand how they could stand it. 100 minutes. They had been making sushi for 100 minutes. Furthermore, all the sushi they had made during this time went into the two of their stomachs. It was not like their stomachs were empty. They had been full after eating many dishes.
[Looks like Jeremy is sleeping.]
[He is old after all. As for Rachel…well, since it is her disciples, she must be happy just watching them put in so much effort.]
[For me, rather than happy…it feels a bit exciting. I feel like I’m watching an artist burning up their artistic soul. Of course, if I had went into that kind of sushi shop and had to wait for hours, I would have just flipped some tables over and left.]
The weird thing was that she could understand what they were saying in the chat window. Sera put her hand over her chest. The heartbeat she could feel past her skin and clothes was not normal. It felt like her whole body was heating up and the source of that heat, was definitely the two chefs cooking.
You could say it was because it was a competition, but the basic thing pushing the two of them was passion and love towards cooking. The fact that they could focus on one thing like that, the fact that they could devote their heart and soul into it was cool and made her envious.
“Emily. Can a person be so focused on one thing like that?”
“You’re looking at proof of it with your own eyes.”
“Even though I am seeing it, I can’t believe it. Even me…I hope that someone could look at me and feel the same way.”
Emily looked at Jo Minjoon and Anderson without speaking. They had already emptied two rice cookers. The customers in the hall and already left as the restaurant had closed for a break, and Samuel, as well as his chefs, all stood amongst the staff watching the competition with interest.
It was at that time. Anderson and Jo Minjoon seemed to be exchanging glances, and almost at the same time, they both presented their plates.
“It is ready.”
Did none of the sushi after that have no mistakes? Salmon sushi, tuna sushi, they put one of each on a plate before presenting it.
Truthfully speaking, the taste was definitely lacking compared to the sushi from other specialty stores. However, it was not by much. To start, the quality of fish was good, and the rice mixed with vinegar had already been prepared by the restaurant. Thinking about how both Anderson and Jo Minjoon did not have much experience with sushi, the fact that they prepared this level of sushi was already a magnificent feat. Jo Minjoon spoke with an apologetic expression.
“I’m sorry. I know it’s important to present delicious food, but also very important to make sure the customer does not have to wait.”
“Don’t worry about it. It was not that kind of competition in the first place.”
[At, it’s over. It’s too much though. Of course I’m sure all chefs live like that, but to seek perfection when making something like sushi…….]
[It’s funny if you think about it. Sushi is basically Japan’s version of a sandwich. It’s like if you restack your sandwich because the angle of the ingredients is off. Of course it is a bit different, but still.]
[So who is the winner? I’ve been waiting for hours just to know who won.]
Both of them put in a lot of effort, but the winner had to be determined. The four of them carefully shared their thoughts with one another. There was one difference between Anderson’s sushi and Jo Minjoon’s sushi. The thickness of the fish, the amount of wasabi, those were pretty similar. If there was a difference, it would be that Jo Minjoon pushed down in the middle of the rice to create a small layer of air, while Anderson did not do something like that.
The discussion was not long. Rachel soon opened her mouth.
“Before announcing the winner, I will start by saying that both of you did a great job. I’m sure everyone watching the broadcast today felt it. They all saw just how serious you are about cooking.”
Jo Minjoon and Anderson did not respond and just looked at Rachel’s lips with heavy eyes. Rachel’s lips opened.
“Truthfully speaking, the two of your sushis were pretty similar. However, the results were unanimous. Anderson!”
“Congratulations. You won.”
A bright smile formed on Anderson’s lips. It was an expression of pure joy like a child would make, which was not like Anderson at all. Jo Minjoon smiled bitterly as he lowered his head. He thought he might win this time, but he ended up losing again. He opened his mouth. Losing was losing, but he needed to know the reason why.
“In what aspect was my sushi lacking in comparison?”
“You made a small groove in the middle of your rice.”
“Yes. Did that become a problem?”
“It probably tasted good if you ate it right away like you did. However…..”
Rachel extended her finger. The finger that was pointing at the cutting board slowly moved to her plate.
“The taste changes when it gets all the way here. Sushi is that type of food. If this was a bar style table and we ate it as soon as you made it, it would have been a bit different. However, to make enough sushi for all 4 people, pass it around, and the amount of time we took to eat it, during that time, the fish slowly sank into the hole. Then the weight was pushed onto the already thinned layer or rice.
Rachel used both her index fingers and thumbs to make circles and push them together before slowly moving them apart. Jo Minjoon finally felt like he could understand. The rice ball that was clumped together would have easily split into two. Just that was enough to create a difference in the tasting experience.
“A chef cannot just learn to cook on top of a cutting board. The true battle happens at the table, on the customer’s plate and in their mouth. Still, I think it was a good experience for both of you.”
“……Yes, thank you.”
Jo Minsoon answered in a disappointed voice. He thought that he could win. He tried to change it up and ended up being swallowed by the change. Jo Minjoon looked at Anderson. Anderson leaned back in the chair and crossed his legs. He looked at Jo Minjoon.
Anderson lifted an empty cup, laughed and put it down.
< The destined match (2) > End
Translator : Subak/Miraclerifle
Proofreader : Miraclerifle
Subak translated part of this chapter. Starting the next chapter, it is the start of a new era!