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Food Wars: Tavern

In the bustling city, there is a tavern that operates only between 7 PM and 12 AM. The food here is fancy and delicious, but surprisingly not expensive! Any ordinary ingredient, when in the hands of the owner Zane, shines brightly. Many people go crazy and become obsessed with his cooking! ----------- This novel is a chill, slice-of-life novel. 10 advance chapters: patreon.com/angelictranslating

AngelicTL · Anime & Comics
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241 Chs

The Lion's Head Dish

In Yangzhou, there are three famous "heads":

- Braised Carp Head!

- Braised Whole Pig Face!

- Crab Meat Lion's Head!

The origin of Crab Meat Lion's Head can be traced back over a thousand years to the Tang Dynasty.

At that time, with the flourishing economy, officials and nobility became more particular about their diet.

One day, Duke Wei Zhi of Xun hosted a banquet, and the famous chef Wei Juyuan prepared four exquisite dishes using rare ingredients from both land and sea.

When the dish "Sunflower Meatballs" was served, the enormous meatball, resembling a blooming sunflower, was incredibly exquisite, and it looked like a lion's head!

The guests at the banquet seized the opportunity to say, "Duke Wei, with your illustrious military career, you should bear the lion's seal of command."

Hearing this, Wei Zhi happily raised his wine cup and drank it in one gulp, replying, "To commemorate today's grand occasion, let's rename Sunflower Meatballs to Lion's Head."

Upon his word, everyone agreed in unison.

Since then, the Lion's Head dish became famous in Yangzhou.

By the Qing Dynasty, Emperor Qianlong, during his southern tours, praised the Lion's Head dish highly and brought it to the capital, making it a royal dish.

Thus, the Lion's Head dish from Huaiyang cuisine became known worldwide!

...

In the evening, the tavern began to operate.

Zane chopped the pork belly, water chestnuts, and soaked dried shrimp into pieces the size of green beans.

He then cut the ham and bamboo shoots into fine cubes.

He mixed the pork, ginger, scallions, water chestnuts, dried shrimp, egg, salt, pepper, cooking wine, and water starch using the method for making bun fillings.

Next, he divided the prepared meat filling into five large meatballs of equal size.

Considering Rindo's large appetite, each meatball was made to be 8 centimeters in diameter.

He fried them in oil heated to 70% until they were golden brown and then took them out.

Finally, he placed a frying pan on high heat, added oil, and briefly sautéed the bamboo shoots and ham.

He added fresh broth, cooking wine, soy sauce, caramel color, scallions, and ginger, bringing it to a boil before adding the meatballs.

After the meatballs were cooked, he placed them on a plate.

He surrounded the plate with a little water, brought the sauce in the pan to a boil again, and thickened it with water starch, finally pouring it over the meatballs and garnishing with green leaves.

Before Rindo were five large and round Lion's Head meatballs, each nestled among three green leaves.

At first glance, they seemed to symbolize "five blessings arriving at the door."

The meatballs, a mix of lean and fatty pork, were glossy and red, paired with vibrant green vegetables.

The bright colors and enticing aroma instantly stimulated the appetite.

"Ah... mmm!"

Taking advantage of the steaming hot sauce, the big eater Rindo immediately picked up one meatball and took a big bite.

As soon as it entered her mouth, the entire meatball burst with juice.

The combination of lean and fatty meat provided a tender, springy texture with a rich umami flavor.

Although fried foods often feel greasy, the crisp water chestnuts balanced the richness.

She couldn't help but want to grab another one before finishing the first!

...

After swallowing one entire Lion's Head, Rindo couldn't help but smack her lips, feeling unsatisfied. She quickly picked up another large meatball and started eating.

With each bite, she experienced the satisfying, melting sensation of the meatball, bringing a strong sense of happiness.

"I see."

"If the Lion's Head is too firm, it won't be moist in the mouth."

"But if it's too loose, it lacks the springy texture and becomes bland."

"So to achieve the melting yet springy effect, adding crushed water chestnuts, yam, and shredded vegetables is necessary."

"This combination ensures the meatball is both flavorful and balanced!"

Rindo chewed slowly, closing her eyes to savor and analyze the Lion's Head dish.

Chinese cuisine is known for its deliciousness, generous portions, and satisfying nature.

In contrast, many Western dishes are relatively simple, often using high-calorie ingredients and seasonings, lacking in healthiness.

Dishes like fish and chips and vegetable salads often leave the stomach empty.

Even though Rindo liked Western pastries, she didn't eat them often because of their high calories and low satiety.

But Chinese dishes were different, often surprising her with their variety of ingredients and cooking techniques.

Most importantly, Zane's culinary skills deeply impressed her, making her particularly fond of his dishes.

Whenever she had time, she would show up at the tavern punctually.

...

Regarding the Lion's Head dish, Rindo, the second seat of the Elite Ten, might not have as deep an understanding as Zane.

But she knew that making a perfect Lion's Head, with the right taste and texture, required careful attention:

The ratio of lean to fatty meat must be precise.

The size and direction of the cuts must be accurate.

Seasoning must be balanced.

Too light seasoning results in a lack of meat flavor, while too heavy seasoning overpowers the dish.

Moreover, the dish must include vegetables for balance, just like the Lion's Head dish Zane made, with green leaves.

This not only balances the texture but also caters to various tastes.

In short, a true Lion's Head dish pursues a rich and balanced flavor achieved through careful blending of ingredients.

Clearly, Zane mastered this perfectly.

...

Soon, Rindo opened her eyes and sneaked a glance at Zane.

He was rinsing a kitchen knife with warm water and carefully wiping it with a cloth.

Meanwhile, the assistant chef Sonoka was at the sink, washing vegetables.

Seeing Sonoka's delicate face with a blush and her eyes occasionally glancing at Zane with a look of excitement and admiration, Rindo couldn't help but comment.

"Boss, haven't been here for a while, but you hired an assistant chef?"

Rindo remarked, still savoring the Lion's Head.

Even a child could see what was happening.

"As you can see, Sonoka is now an assistant chef at the tavern."

Zane replied casually.

"Oh, that's quite unexpected."

Rindo sighed lightly.

Given the tavern's current business, it was expected that Zane would hire staff.

But she was surprised that the first employee was the owner of the neighboring Shunkatei restaurant, Sonoka!

"Sigh, she beat me to it!"

Rindo thought, feeling a bit frustrated.

She had previously agreed with Zane that she would work at the tavern after graduation.

Who knew another Totsuki student, a former graduate no less, had the same idea and got there first.

This left her feeling blocked, as if something important had been taken away.

...

"What's wrong?"

"Are you upset about this?"

"Or are you jealous that Sonoka became the assistant chef here?"

Zane asked with a teasing smile.

Rindo's body shook, her face turned red, and she replied nervously, "Jealous? No, why would I be jealous?"

Why do I feel flustered when he says that?

Do I really like him?

No, no, I don't like him.

It's just that his cooking is so delicious, I can't resist the temptation of good food!

Yes, I'm just a bit curious about him!

"Are you okay?"

"Just joking, why are you shaking your head like that?"

Zane's voice interrupted her thoughts.

Feeling embarrassed, Rindo quickly pointed to the remaining Lion's Head on the plate and said, "Another bowl of rice, please. It's better with the meatballs."

"Okay, I'll get you some rice."

...

Currently, the age range of customers at the tavern was gradually expanding.

Besides the typical office workers, there were also students, foreign tourists, and various professionals.

Despite the short operating hours from 7 PM to midnight, the customers' enthusiasm was undiminished!

After Rindo, another regular appeared at the tavern.

"Senpai, it's an honor to invite you to dine and drink here."

Isami Aldini said with a smile to the person beside him, Soma.

"Isami, you don't have to do this."

"As a senior, I should be treating you, not the other way around."

Soma replied.

"Senpai, I admire you deeply after hearing your story from Fumio!"

"Today's Polar Star Dorm is not as glorious as it was during your time at Totsuki, and that makes me feel regretful."

Isami Aldini's eyes showed a hint of sadness.

"After more than 20 years, it's better than I expected."

"At least with you, a member of the Elite Ten, there's still hope for a comeback."

Soma's eyes were deep, reminiscing about his time at the dorm with Gin Dojima, Azami Nakiri, and Jun Shiomi.

"Senpai, you overestimate me."

"With my skills, I can't lead Polar Star Dorm to greatness."

Isami scratched his head and laughed awkwardly.

"Potential is often revealed by the environment!"

"When the time comes, you'll have the ability to lead Polar Star Dorm to glory, so don't underestimate yourself."

Soma glanced at Isami and spoke seriously.

...

Then, he began to observe the tavern.

Aside from the carefully designed decor and pleasant dining environment, his keen observation quickly noticed something peculiar about the food each customer was eating!

"This is interesting. This tavern doesn't have a set menu."

He said, pulling his gaze back, surprised.

"Senpai, the rule here is that as long as the ingredients are available and the chef can make it, customers can order anything they want!"

Isami explained.

"Creative, but it really tests the chef's adaptability."

"And the chef needs to have a deep understanding of many dishes."

Hearing this, Soma paused.

But after a brief thought, he looked impressed.

"Yes, that's why I brought you here to show you the boss's skills."

Isami nodded.

Having run a restaurant, Soma understood that the tavern's operating model was unique.

Taverns typically open at night.

With such limited hours, it was hard to run a large restaurant business.

And many convenience stores open 24/7, offering all kinds of fast food and snacks.

From what he observed, besides the rule of ordering anything, the tavern also had many stories that touched people, turning them into regulars!

But, people are rational as well as emotional.

In real life, who would be so emotional to share their stories with strangers at a tavern?

However, the customers here seemed happy, moved by the food and stories...

"It seems this boss must be very charming!"

He thought again, sighing.

...

"You two have been sitting for a while, why haven't you ordered?"

At that moment, Zane approached them and asked.

"Boss, let me introduce you."

"This is a former resident of Polar Star Dorm and the second seat of the 69th Elite Ten, Joichiro Yukihira!"

Seeing Zane, Isami quickly stood up to introduce Joichiro.

"Nice to meet you."

Zane nodded slightly.

In fact, Zane had been observing Joichiro since he entered the tavern.

As the strongest chef in the early stages of the original story, his presence at the tavern was surprising.

Joichiro, seeing Zane, noted that he was even younger than he imagined a tavern owner to be, feeling a mix of surprise and admiration.

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For 10 advance chapters: patreon.com/angelictranslating