At the entrance of the alleyway, teams of armor-wearing imperial guards were solemnly standing there and had completely blockaded the entrance. In front of them, Lian Fu, who was wearing a brocade robe, was anxiously pacing around while waving a horsetail whisk. Once in a while, he would pause for a moment and look toward the store with concern in his eyes.
"His Majesty is too much. It's not like I would snatch his food, why doesn't he let me accompany him?" Lian Fu dissatisfiedly sighed. He spread his senses and alertly scanned the surroundings. It was not a small matter that the emperor left the imperial palace. If the experts from the sects found out, they would flock toward their location to assassinate him.
Suddenly, a disturbance occurred among the guards. As they created a path, a refined figure slowly walked through.
"Your Highness is here as well. What a coincidence," Lian Fu said with a chuckle as he pinched his thumb and middle finger together.
Ji Chengxue's mood was slightly indifferent. He only nodded before he walked away. His robes were fluttering as he left a breeze in his wake.
Lian Fu was feeling helpless as he watched Ji Chengxue's back figure. He thought, "It looks like His Highness met His Majesty within the store and they didn't get along.
"The royalty has no relatives. As someone from the imperial household, you'll need to face imperial matters. Since His Majesty doesn't like the third prince, it doesn't matter how diligent or outstanding he is."
"Pay attention! His Majesty is currently inside the alleyway. If something happens to His Majesty, you all know the consequences!" Lian Fu whispered a warning to the guards.
"Oh my, isn't this Chief Eunuch Lian? It's been a while!" A fawning voice rang out and interrupted Lian Fu who was about to give a long lecture to the guards.
Lian Fu puzzledly glanced at the man who just approached. The figure in front of him was thin and had an ugly and vulgar appearance. He was wearing a luxurious brocade robe with a belt inlaid with green jade at his waist and his fingers were adorned with glittering rings. He had the appearance of a nouveau riche.
"You are?" Lian Fu puzzled asked. He thought, "I don't seem to recall being acquainted with such a vulgar-looking old man."
"Chief Eunuch Lian, did you forget about me? I am the owner of Phoenix Immortal Restaurant. Didn't His Majesty come over to eat the Roasted Flower Duck previously? At that time, I was the one who personally served the dish!" the man who approached said with a smile while his eyes narrowed into a slit. He did not seem to mind that Lian Fu had forgotten about him.
"Oh oh oh! You're called… Qian… Qian whatever something?" Lian Fu said as he narrowed his eyes and pointed toward the man with his thumb and middle finger pinched together.
"Gong gong, this lowly person's name is Qian Bao," the man reminded him.
Lian Fu suddenly remembered as he nodded and said, "That's right, you're Qian Bao… Oh my, what's the owner of the Immortal Phoenix Restaurant doing here?"
"This lowly person passed by and came to greet after seeing gong gong. It's been a while since gong gong has come to Immortal Phoenix Restaurant for a meal, when would you have the time to patronise our restaurant? Your presence would certainly bring great honor to our humble restaurant." Qian Bao was smiling brightly.
The dishes of Immortal Phoenix Restaurant were indeed pretty good. It was considered a first class restaurant within the Light Wind Empire. However, after Lian Fu had eaten the dishes made by Bu Fang, even the food from the imperial kitchen tasted bland to him. There was no way he would visit the Immortal Phoenix Restaurant.
Other than Immortal Phoenix Restaurant's signature dish, the Roasted Flower Duck, the standard of its other dishes were out of the question.
"Oh, I'll go when I have the time," Lian Fu absent-mindedly nodded and replied in a nonchalant manner.
"Alright, then this lowly person shall respectfully wait for gong gong's arrival." The smile on Qian Bao's face remained throughout the conversation. Regardless of Lian Fu's attitude, he was always smiling brightly.
After a while, Qian Bao carefully asked, "That… Gong gong, is His Majesty currently inside the alleyway?"
Lian Fu's eyes widened as he alertly looked at Qian Bao. He was frowning as he said in a high pitched voice, "What sort of intentions are you harboring by asking this question?"
"This lowly person only wishes His Majesty to honor our humble restaurant with his presence once more. Didn't His Majesty praise our Roasted Flower Duck as the number one duck within the Light Wind Empire? This lowly person was only wondering when His Majesty would taste Immortal Phoenix Restaurant's dishes once more," Qian Bao hurriedly said as he waved his hand.
"If His Majesty wishes to eat, he would naturally send someone to retrieve the food. What are you so anxious about? You're dismissed," Lian Fu indifferently snorted and said after glancing at Qian Bao.
Qian Bao was still smiling as he nodded and asked to be excused. Then he turned around and left. After taking a few steps, the smile on his face gradually disappeared and was quickly replaced by a gloomy expression.
"The black-hearted store in the alleyway… Even His Majesty came in person? I was wondering why all the precious customers had disappeared recently. So they were all attracted by this little store," Qian Bao lowered his head as he muttered to himself with a gloomy expression.
"How dare you steal my business… I will definitely make you suffer. You're just a little store situated within an alleyway that relies on a signature dish. Hmph… Once this signature dish of yours is defeated, we'll see how you manage to steal my business!"
"Emperor grandpa, this is the Lees Fish. Please enjoy your meal," Ouyang Xiaoyi charmingly said as she placed the plate of Lees Fish in front of the emperor. As the wine aroma spread into the air, the emperor could not help but take a deep breath.
"The intensely aromatic Lees Fish, it's very fragrant!" The emperor praised as he impatiently picked up a pink piece of fish with his chopsticks. As the fish entered his mouth, the taste of the lees and flavor of the fish mixed together and enveloped his taste buds. He was captivated by the flavor.
"Emperor grandpa, this is the Golden Shumai. Please enjoy your meal."
As another dish was served, the interior of the store was completely enveloped by the fragrance of the dishes.
The emperor was grinning from ear to ear as he ate the dish. His mouth was constantly chewing and he was unable to stop at all. It had been a long time since he had tasted food that was able to captivate him.
Wiping off the oil stains on his beard, an overjoyed expression appeared on the emperor's face as he stared at the first-rate dishes in front of him. For a glutton like him, tasting delicious food was the happiest experience.
"Xiaoyi, isn't there a wine that's better than the imperial palace's Bejewelled Nectar Wine? Why haven't I seen it yet?" the emperor puzzled asked after contentedly swallowing a piece of Sweet 'n' Sour Ribs.
"There is. Emperor grandpa, wait a moment." Ouyang Xiaoyi grinned and cheerfully ran toward the kitchen window.
"Smelly boss, hurry up and bring out the Ice Heart Jade Urn Wine. The emperor grandpa wants a taste," Ouyang Xiaoyi said to Bu Fang.
Bu Fang had finished cooking the last dish and was wiping away the water droplets on his hands. He nodded and let Ouyang Xiaoyi serve the final dish first, while he took out the last jar of Ice Heart Jade Urn Wine from the cabinet.
Bu Fang walked out of the kitchen while carrying the jar of wine.
He placed the jar in front of the emperor and sat down at a seat. He looked at the emperor and simply asked, "How is it? Do you still want to shut down my store?"
The emperor was curiously picking up verdant and glistening vegetables that seemed to be completely uncooked. When he heard Bu Fang's question, a trace of embarrassment flashed across his face. However, the embarrassment soon vanished.
When he bit down on the vegetables, a warm vegetable juice immediately gushed into his mouth. The light flavor of the vegetables lingered in his mouth.
"This is Stir-Fried Vegetables?!" The emperor was extremely surprised after taking a bite.
"As you've seen, this is indeed a plate of Stir-Fried Vegetables. It's just that the stir-fry process used a special cooking technique," Bu Fang simply said.
As Bu Fang was speaking, he removed the cloth cover of the wine jar and poured a cup of wine for the emperor. He pointed toward the cup and beckoned the emperor to have a taste.
The emperor's eyes immediately lit up. The fragrance of the Ice Heart Jade Urn Wine had already lured out the wine bug within his body and his craving for it was almost unbearable.
He picked up the blue and white porcelain cup and sipped the wine. The spiciness flowed through his lips to his tongue and suddenly blossomed. The emperor's entire body shuddered and even the wrinkles on his face seemed to be pulsing.
After finishing the cup of wine, the emperor smacked his lips as he lightly breathed out. He had a captivated expression on his face.
"The rumors were really true. The Ice Heart Jade Urn wine is indeed better than my Bejewelled Nectar Wine… I've lived for so many years and only tasted such a wine when I have one foot in the grave. Is this a punishment from the heavens or a reward?" the emperor did not know whether to laugh or cry as he exclaimed with his narrowed eyes.
"With such a fine wine and this sort of delicious food, if I still decide to seal Owner Bu's store, then I would be truly foolish." The emperor lightly stroked his beard as he beckoned Bu Fang to fill his cup. He drank another cup of wine and started laughing.
Bu Fang expressionlessly looked at the laughing emperor, as if everything was within his expectations.
Just like he believed, there was no stomach that could not be subdued by his dishes!
The emperor consecutively drank three cups of wine and the wine was starting to take effect, but his eyes were even brighter.
The emperor stared at Bu Fang and slammed his cup down with a thud. His eyes were shining as he said, "Owner Bu, work under me. Come to my imperial kitchen. Your monthly salary will be… ten thousand crystals!"