Published at 13th of November 2020 07:35:08 AM
Min-joon stopped and looked around . He felt there were lots of restaurants around Jeongja Station as the streets around it were well maintained, but he found it difficult to find a restaurant of a long history . Right at that moment, he noticed an advertisement on the restaurant sign .
Of course, he could not take it at face value . It could be a chain restaurant of the main with 55 years of making noodles . He picked up his smartphone and searched for the name of the restaurant on the internet . It was called Mr . Kim’s Pyongyang Cold Noodles . There appeared quite a few articles about it when he googled on it . But the reviews about the restaurant were equally divided between pros and cons .
‘Well, Pyongyang cold noodle itself is a dish that lots of people have pros and cons about . ’
That was why it was very difficult to find the original Pyongyang cold noodle house .
He looked back at Kaya and asked, “How about a noodle for lunch . ”
“It’s a cold noodle . It’s a dish they make by boiling beef bones for several days for its broth and mix it with cold noodles . Do you want to try it? They have been making it for 45 years . ”
“I don’t know if 45 years is that important, but let’s get inside to taste it . ”
She stepped inside the restaurant confidently . It was near lunchtime, but there weren’t many customers . There were almost 20 tables inside, but only ten customers including Min-joon and Kaya were there . The moment both of them sat on the chairs when a young man came up to them and smiled . He looked a bit tired .
“Welcome . Are only two of you eating here?”
“Yeah . ”
Min-joon replied briefly and removed his mask, so did Kaya .
As if surprised to see her for a moment, he looked even more surprised when he saw Min-joon .
“May I ask if you are Mr . Min-joon Cho?”
“Oh, yes, thanks for recognizing me . ”
“Of course, I know because you’re the most famous chef in the restaurant business right now . And…”
The young man smiled with an awkward expression .
“You’re my classmate . My name is Min-sok Kim… Don’t you remember? I think we were in the same classroom when we were seniors at Naejong Middle School . ”
Surprised by his words, Min-joon looked up at him again . Middle school alumni? That was seven or eight years ago, but given his actual age, it was much longer than that .
Min-sok Kim lowered his head as if he felt sorry .
“Oh, I’m sorry I surprised you . ”
“No . I’m sorry, too . I’m so busy these days, so I can’t remember well… Oh, did you play soccer very well at that time? I think you did . ”
“Unfortunately, I was always on the defensive position when I played soccer . ”
Min-joon tried to trace his memory as best as he could, but he couldn’t recall Min-sok’s name .
At that moment, Kaya opened her mouth as if she was curious .
“Do you know him?”
“Ah, I think we’re middle school alumni . ”
“You are not so sure?”
“Yeah, I can’t really remember . ”
“That’s why you’re still a patient . How come you can forget what you did in middle school?”
“If you really remember what you did in your middle school when you were my age then tell me about it,” Min-joon grumbled .
Min-sok Kim looked at them with a curious expression . Although he was not that close to Min-joon, he was really surprised when he heard that Min-joon, his middle school alumni, went to America to participate in a cooking contest and gained world fame .
A bit embarrassed, Min-sok crumpled his apron . Suddenly, he felt his apron seemed so shabby in front of his middle school alumni who came back with unrivaled success and a pretty girlfriend at that .
“What would you like to order?”
“Pyongyang cold noodles for two . By the way, can you talk informally to me? You don’t have to use honorific language . ”
“Oh, that’s fine . Let me make Pyongyang cold noodles and bring them back quickly . ”
Having said that, Min-sok quickly entered the kitchen .
Min-joon looked at the system window that appeared next to Min-sok .
Cooking Level: 6
Baking Level: 3
Gastronomic Level: 7
Decoration Level: 4
‘It seems he had lots of cooking experience . He doesn’t seem like a server . I wonder if he is working in the kitchen, too . ’
It was rather too insensitive for him to ask .
Kaya asked in a quiet voice, “It smells strange here . ”
“Oh, it’s the smell of beef broth . ”
“I know . But it’s very fresh . It smells like grass . ”
How could she smell grass from a beef broth? Min-joon sniffed with a confused expression .
But he could not figure it out . At that moment, he looked at the Pyongyang cold noodles that the customers at the next table were enjoying . The moment he checked the noodles, he uttered admiration silently .
[Pyongyang cold noodles]
Origin: (There are several ingredients, so it is hidden . )
Cooking score: 9/10
‘I now know the owner’s advertisement of Pyongyang cold noodles with a 45-year tradition was true!’
Min-joon now fixed his eyes on other customers’ tables .
With an annoyed expression, Kaya looked into his eyes, who got distracted by the dishes on other tables .
‘He’s always like this . ’
It was common for him to get distracted by the dishes on other tables . So, she wasn’t ashamed anymore . Rather, she was just curious . How come he could get carried away with such dishes when he didn’t even try them?
Min-joon’s presence had always been a stimulus to Kaya . Probably without him, she would have gotten on her high horse by now, drunk with her proven talents and success . And it was natural she could have been, given her track record . Even before she turned 20, she competed with lots of chefs from all over the United States and beat them . Besides, she beat them all after overcoming her terrible working environment .
At first, she didn’t even think Min-joon was better than her . When she found out that he had a perfect palate, she was surprised that there could be someone who had a more sensitive palate than her, but that didn’t make her disappointed . But as time passed, she came to realize that he had some natural talent that she could not beat with the sensitivity of the tongue .
Kaya asked, “You know that?”
“When you think about cooking, you look like you are a completely different man . ”
“Of course, because I bet my life on it . ”
There wasn’t even a little hesitation in his voice when he said that .
She looked at him curiously and asked, “How can you say so? You never know what will happen to your life . ”
“I have loved cooking since I was young . Even now, when I became a chef, I still feel the same way now, and I will feel the same even in the future . And I really don’t feel any pleasure if I don’t do what I like . Of course, everybody will feel the same way, Don’t you think so, Kaya?”
“Well, obviously, I love cooking, but sometimes, I think about other jobs . For example, I feel like making my debut as a chef broadcaster like Chloe . Of course, I still feel like I am an entertainment chef . ”
“Don’t blame yourself . Don’t rush . We have less than a few months to go before our Grand Chef contract expires . ”
“Really? Well, I feel good, but at the same time, I feel a bit wistful . ”
Kaya crossed her legs and stretched her body, leaning against the chair .
Min-joon glanced at the table next to him . They were a middle-aged couple with an air of wealth . When he felt they could relish the savory taste of Pyongyang cold noodles at that age, the woman opened her mouth in an annoyed voice as if she was dissatisfied .
“I don’t think I will ever feel the real taste of Pyongyang cold noodles, no matter how much they praise it . Honey, why do you like this dish?”
“Well, people say that Pyongyang cold noodles taste bland, but I don’t really get it . No dish can beat the salty but savory taste of its beef broth!”
Min-joon burst into laughter at the man’s response .
Kaya asked with a curious expression, “Why are you laughing?”
“As I told you, some people like it, but others dislike it . Kaya, you might be able to find out the hidden taste of Pyongyang cold noodles, but that couple seems divided on its taste . ”
“Let me guess if I’m right . That gentleman likes it, but his wife doesn’t like it, right?”
“How did you know?”
“Well, looking at their expression, I can easily check it out . Besides, that woman is nibbling at the noodles with chopsticks from the beginning . ”
Min-joon nodded at her . Obviously, it was easy to check out whether the customer liked the dish or not by just looking at his or her plate and facial expression .
Min-joon looked at the woman’s plate with a regrettable expression . Even though the chef of this restaurant made Pyongyang cold noodles with lots of effort, it was hard for him to overcome that woman’s bias .
Min-joon once again realized how tough it was for the owner to make everybody like Pyongyang cold noodles . In Min-joon’s case, when he made a delicious dish, customers usually liked it unless they had food allergies or trauma . However, no matter how delicious he made Pyongyang cold noodles, it was difficult to please everybody’s taste .
To put it accurately, the key was the taste of the customers visiting restaurants to enjoy the noodles . To those who had been accustomed to the stimulation of salt and seasonings, Pyongyang cold noodles seasoned with only a little salt was no more than a lump of minced buckwheat .
‘Nonetheless, the owner of this restaurant has not given it up . What a craftsman he is!’
Min-joon pondered over how he would have acted in this situation? When he was a junior cook, he often complained he could not see a clear career path in the future . How would he have reacted if the customers showed a tepid reaction to the Pyongyang cold noodles that he invested 45 years in making it as delicious as it could be?
“It’s scary . ”
“What are you scared about?”
“I mean it’s really scary to devote your life to the kind of dish widely loved by people . You can’t develop such a dish without putting in all your energy and effort . ”
“Yeah, I know it’s stupid . ”
Both of them were now about to face the very outcome of that stupidity . Smiling a bit tensely, Min-sok brought Pyongyang cold noodles and put them on the table . To be precise, it wasn’t just noodles alone . Cold pork cutlets and beef meat were also placed in front of them . With a perplexed expression, Min-joon looked at him .
He said with an awkward expression, “This is an extra free treat for my alumni . Please enjoy it . ”
“Ah, thank you . You don’t have to…”