Chapter 485 - Opportunity Presented Itself
“However, Yu Xiaocao and her sister are quite fortunate!” Seeing that the entire Yu Family had already entered the restaurant, Zhu Junfan returned to his seat and continued to tuck into Zhenxiu Restaurant’s delicacies .
Su Ran shook his head, “When Miss Yu was born, she was very weak and frail . There were several times when she almost died! Her grandmother was very miserly, unwilling to spend money for treatment when the children were sick, so they all had to endure through it . That time, if it weren’t for her father, who went to borrow some money from their relatives for her to see a physician, I really can’t tell if she would be able to live until today . ”
The emperor’s hidden guards had already done a thorough check on her background when he first decided to place her in an important position . Which meant that in front of the emperor, any privacy of hers could no longer be considered as a privacy anymore .
Zhu Junfan was aware that the thing that changed Yu Xiaocao’s fate was that small, plain stone . He would be lying if he said he was not tempted, but everything had their own fate . Even if he stole the multicolored stone from her, he would not necessarily be able to use it to its full potential . It was not his style to ruin the present situation for an unknown result . Why not temporarily let the little lass keep it, since technically, he was still able to use it, no?
“Beloved Official Yu and her family had just arrived in the capital yesterday . As the emperor, should I do something?” As such, under Su Ran’s clear gaze, Zhu Junfan stood up and leisurely knocked on the door to the private room that General Fang had booked .
The person who opened the door was Royal Prince Yang’s personal bodyguard . Seeing a dignified, handsome face that was somewhat similar to his master’s, Dong Dali’s face twitched, his voice sounding like someone was strangling him, “M-Master, H-His…”
Royal Prince Yang’s response was, “Speak properly! I don’t keep stutterers around . What this . . . Your Imperial Majesty, how are you here? And you only brought along Su Ran? Aren’t you a little too bold?”
“We only found out today that our little cousin actually speaks so much! We didn’t come here for you, we came here for Beloved Official Yu’s welcoming feast! What about it? You don’t welcome us?” The emperor stepped into the room with Su Ran following behind him, closing the door . It was fortunate that there were only private rooms on the second floor . All of the other customers were behind closed doors and did not notice what had occurred .
Everyone in the room stood up immediately after they heard Royal Prince Yang call out ‘Your Imperial Majesty’ . Fang Zizhen was about to lead the rest to bow to him when he saw him clearly, but Zhu Junfan stopped him, “We’ve come out in plain clothes today, there’s no need for such courtesies . Please, sit!”
‘You must be joking, who would dare sit down before you did?’ Fang Zizhen hurriedly offered the main seat and personally invited the emperor to take his seat .
Zhu Junfan looked at the entire table of untouched dishes and smiled, “It’s still Mingzhe’s who is more reputable and able to order all of the limited quantity, signature dishes of Zhenxiu Restaurant . We were just next door, but we didn’t get the same treatment!”
“Your Imperial Majesty, this official…” Who would dare claim to be even more important than the emperor? Cold sweat formed on Fang Zizhen’s back when he heard this, as he stood stiffly, not knowing how to respond to the emperor’s words .
“Why are all of you standing? Hurry, sit down and eat, the dishes are getting cold!” The culprit acted as if nothing had happened and picked up his chopsticks, digging into the boiled meat slices that he liked very much . When he tried to order this dish earlier, the waiter had informed him that they were all booked out . Hmph! If he wasn’t afraid of revealing his identity, then he really wanted to use his authority to oppress them .
This was the second time the Yu Household—aside from Yu Hai and Xiaocao—met the emperor . However, he had not revealed his true identity the first time and only pretended that he was the heir of Prince Jing, so they were taken by surprise by his sudden arrival . For a moment, they were unsure of what they should do and whether they should dig in .
“Why aren’t you all eating? Is it because the dishes aren’t to your tastes?” Third Young Master Zhou asked, puzzled, when he personally brought in a plate of spicy chicken pieces to the room but saw that no one was eating .
“Spicy chicken pieces? This one is good!” In his previous life, Zhu Junfan originated from Sichuan, and loved to eat any and all that was spicy . He had not had a taste of his hometown’s dishes for more than twenty years, so naturally, he was full of compliments when he saw that there were quite a few Sichuan dishes on the table .
“And this is?” Even though Third Young Master Zhou was the future head of the Zhou Family, he still did not qualify to meet the emperor . As such, he was unable to identify the person in front of him and only felt that he looked familiar .
Fearing trouble, Zhu Junfan shot everyone else a warning glance, “I’m Zhu Junyang’s paternal cousin . I happened upon them here earlier and it was like the saying, ‘a chance encounter is better than an invitation’, so I shamelessly followed to take part in Official Yu’s welcoming feast . ”
Royal Prince Yang’s paternal cousin? That meant he was also part of the nobility . When he saw Chief Steward Su Ran who stood behind the emperor, Third Young Master Zhou’s heart trembled . The one person, who could have the head steward court eunuch personally attend to him, and was also simultaneously Royal Prince Yang’s paternal cousin, could only be . . . it could only be that person! Should he kneel and greet the emperor? Third Young Master Zhou was extremely undecided .
“Su Ran, what are you foolishly standing about for? Find a spot and sit down . There’s so many good dishes you usually might not even be able to taste!”
Third Young Master Zhou squeezed out a smile as he said, “You . . . this is the top membership card of this commoner’s restaurant . If you desire to come and have a meal here in the future, you need only show this card and you may order whatever dish you like . We’ll even give you a 50 percent discount . ”
He actually took the idea for membership cards from Yu Xiaocao, and made only ten of these top membership cards . It was really this restaurant’s and the Zhou Family’s honor if the emperor would accept this card .
“You’re much more dexterous than your eldest uncle, little brat! The Zhou Family has a capable successor!” Zhu Junfan did not care whether he got the fifty percent discount or not, since his private treasury was currently full, but the temptation of being able to order whatever he wanted, including the limited quantity dishes, was very strong .
“Your dishes are very authentic! Very good, very good!” Zhu Junyang praised generously while he dug in .
Third Young Master Zhou was exuberant, “Thank you for your compliments! What else would you like to eat? Please, order as you like . There’s no need to be courteous, just take it as a gift from this small restaurant…”
“Sichuan poached fish in chili sauce, mala tofu, steamed chicken with chili sauce, duck's blood and beef tripe in spicy soup, sliced beef and offal in chili sauce…” Zhu Junfan was not courteous at all . In a single breath, he had ordered multiple delicious Sichuan-style dishes . It wasn’t often that he was able to leave the imperial palace, so he must eat until he was satisfied!
Third Young Master Zhou felt troubled when he heard the orders, and looked pleadingly at Yu Xiaocao, stuttering, “Your…Our small restaurant serves Sichuan poached fish in chili sauce and mala tofu, but this commoner has never heard of steamed chicken with chili sauce, duck's blood and beef tripe in spicy soup, sliced beef and offal in chili sauce…”
Zhu Junfan glared at him, harrumphing, “You’re so inflexible! Even if you’ve never heard of it, the person who taught you Sichuan poached fish in chili sauce and boiled meat slices would definitely have heard of it before! How is Sichuan cuisine complete without mala duck’s blood and sliced beef and offal in chili sauce?”
“Xiaocao, you see…” Third Young Master Zhou was forced to seek help from Yu Xiaocao . However, he had plans to introduce a few new dishes for New Year’s, and he was already discussing this matter with the manager . It would be great if he could take advantage of this opportunity and get a few precious recipes from Xiaocao .
Zhu Junfan knocked his chopsticks on his plate in order to get his attention and said, “Really, if you want someone to help you earn money, who’d do it if you didn’t give them any benefits?”
Zhou Zixu was also quite bold . He grit his teeth and said, “Xiaocao, if you provide Zhenxiu Restaurant with a few new recipes every year, I’ll give you one share of this Zhenxiu Restaurant . ”
“Only this restaurant, or all of the Zhenxiu Restaurant branches?” Zhu Junyang was aware that the Zhou Family had opened Zhenxiu Restaurant branches in other prosperous cities in Jiangnan . As Zhenxiu Restaurant was most likely going to become the Zhou Family’s main business in the future and open branches all over the country, he thought to gain some benefits from them for his little acquisitive lass .
Third Young Master Zhou threw caution to the wind and said, “I’ll give you ten percent of all the Zhenxiu Restaurants’ profits!”
It was good to have a strong backing . Even if Yu Xiaocao ran out of recipes in the future, just based on her relationship with Royal Prince Yang and the fact that she had the emperor’s favor, she was already the backing that Zhenxiu Restaurant and the Zhou Family could only hope for . It should be known that although the Zhou Family were imperial merchants, they still faced difficulty in establishing their name in the capital these past two years without a proper backing . If it weren’t because Zhenxiu Restaurant’s dishes were too good, then it probably would have already been taken over by other well-established restaurants with a strong backing .
Even if Yu Xiaocao was not lacking money, her eyes still lit up when she heard him promise ten percent of the profits of all Zhenxiu Restaurants . Moreover, his request was not very demanding—only a few recipes a year, not to mention, if Zhenxiu Restaurant earned more money, her share in the profits would also increase!
She was already feeling extremely blissful in her heart, yet Yu Xiaocao showed only a face full of resignation as she stood up . She looked at the emperor who was stuffing himself with the dishes on the table and sighed, “Indeed, I know how to make steamed chicken with chili sauce, duck's blood and beef tripe in spicy soup, sliced beef and offal in chili sauce . Since there’s no time like the present, I’ll provide you with the recipes for these three dishes today . ”
Third Young Master Zhou had expected as much . Yu Xiaocao was definitely his lucky star . It was too bad that Royal Prince Yang, who was always by her side, always kept a watchful eye . If he could marry her and make her the wife of the Head of Zhou Family, it would definitely be a blessing to the entire Zhou Family! But it was too late now . Third Young Master Zhou felt somewhat regretful as he led Yu Xiaocao to the kitchen .
When they heard that the proprietor had brought in a teenage girl to teach them a few dishes, the cooks in the kitchen felt a little displeased, but the proprietor was still watching from the side, so they could only pause their work and gather around .
However, their view of her immediately changed when they had a taste of the plate of steamed chicken with chili sauce that she made . The cooks present were all experienced people, so after watching her make the dish once, they already understood most of the steps to creating the same dish . Moreover, Xiaocao had the intention to teach them, and even patiently repeated several key points to the recipe . The ten main cooks of the capital’s western Zhenxiu Restaurant branch were quick to grasp the main points and created steamed chicken with chili sauce that did not lose to Yu Xiaocao’s at all!
“Give out free steamed chicken with chili sauce dishes to every customer dining in private rooms on the second floor today . From tomorrow onward, steamed chicken with chili sauce will officially become one of Zhenxiu Restaurant’s limited quantity dishes . The limited quantity will be twenty sets per day!” Third Young Master Zhou personally served the one that Yu Xiaocao made to General Fang’s private room on the second floor . Were you kidding? He absolutely must serve the man at the highest point of the Great Ming Dynasty with the best .
The ten main cooks of the kitchen did not feel contemptuous anymore, and instead looked at Xiaocao with a burning passion, waiting for her to teach them the recipe of the second dish . Sliced beef and offal in chili sauce and duck's blood and beef tripe in spicy soup both required fresh duck’s blood and offal, but Zhenxiu Restaurant imported their braised meat and offal from the Yu Family’s braised food store, and as such, their kitchen did not have the required ingredients .
However, Zhenxiu Restaurant was able to achieve its current success because it had its resources, and all the ingredients that Yu Xiaocao required were brought to her very quickly . Yu Xiaocao rolled up her sleeves and was about to start cooking when suddenly, she heard a familiar voice shout, “Wait! Wait a second!”