Since Lin Dan came to the Qiaoyuan Restaurant, the business of the Yans’ Restaurant has gone from bad to worse. Although Yan Langqing has been in a hurry to develop new dishes, she can’t match Lin Dan's skill. The Yans have just come up with a new dish, but before they could get public praise, their counterpart also develops a new dish with similar ingredients but excellent cooking skills, which soon overshadows them.
The second brother of Lin Dan’s father is as anxious as an ant on a hot pan these days, with blisters on his mouth. Since Yan Langqing entered the palace to be an imperial chef, the Yans has run wild and taken 30% shares in his hand by various means. Now he only holds 20% of the shares in the store, but he still has to be the shopkeeper and shopper. He has to take care of all the chores up and down. He is as tired as a dog, but he gets less than 10% of the original money he once got.
He has to support a large family. Because he was spoiled by Lin Putin, his family needed the best in everything. They lived in luxury houses, ate delicacies and wore fine silk. One month's expenditure was enough for the average family to live a year in affluence. At that time, he was still the owner of the Yans’ Restaurant, and all the income was for his use. Lin Putin didn’t concern with the business at all, and occasionally Putin would give some help, so he had a really good life. But what’s the situation now? He takes the monthly money as a shopkeeper but has to support his aristocratic family. How can he do that?
His savings of the last ten years have already been used up and he has to live by pawning his property. If the Yans’ Restaurant earns more, he has more than enough money. If its business is poor, he will also lead a miserable life. Therefore, the Qiaoyuan Restaurant has risen and he is more worried than anyone else. Once in a while, when he thinks about the past or his future, he regrets it. But what's the use of regret? Wolves have all been introduced to their homes. How can those wolves be chased away?
Seeing that today is another day with few diners, he says with a livid face, "Go to the Qiaoyuan Restaurant and see if they have come up with another new dish to compete with us."
The waiter agrees and goes in a hurry, then comes back a moment later and says with surprise, "Indeed, there is a new dish called Immortal Boneless Fish. The whole fish has no bones. It is cooked with milky thick soup, so it looks so glutinous, and it tastes fresh and sweet. It melts in the mouth. I saw the old lady of the Yongding Mansion with her eldest grandson whose mother is the wife of the Yongding Marquis, who never eats fish, disliking fish spines, but today she ate so much that she shouted for another one. Business in their shop is fast booming. Diners inside are reluctant to come out while diners outside are waiting in long lines. The old shopkeeper asked the waiter to put a lot of benches at the door for the guests to rest. He also invited storytellers to tell stories at the street corner. Eating inside and laughing outside were lively. I managed to squeeze in and lost one shoe."
Speaking of which, the waiter raises his foot to show his bare left foot and says with hesitation, "Shopkeeper, will you compensate me for a new pair of shoes?"
"Compensate my ass, fuck off!" The second brother of Lin Dan’s father blushes and gives a loud roar with a thick neck. He only feels his lungs are going to explode. We cook black sea cucumbers and you cook too; we make meat balls, you make too; we cook boneless fish, and you cook boneless fish too, and you do them better than we do time and again. This clearly shows you want to smash the fame of the Yans’ Restaurant! Yan Langqing is also a waste as an imperial chef who can't even beat a folk cook. What has she learned all these years?
He is so anxious that he would rather take a knife and kill the new cook at the Qiaoyuan Restaurant.
At this moment, Yan Shouye, carrying a birdcage in one hand and a pipe in the other, comes in wobbly and looks unhappy when he sees no diners in the hall. The second brother of Lin Putin is busy telling him about the competition between the two restaurants. Yan Shouye sneers, "How dare they oppose our Yans! They want to challenge us? Well, they have no special dish; I wonder how they can challenge us!" After saying those words, he takes out a token from his waist, and ten silver notes, lets his private servant to find someone at the gate of the palace.
At the Qiaoyuan Restaurant, Lin Dan makes an exception and makes ten tables of dishes because the Immortal Boneless Fish is highly praised by diners. She washes her hands and face before seeing it is too late, and is ready to go home. At that moment, the old shopkeeper leads a young man with a fair face and no beards to come in, and his expression looks like he is suffering bereavement.
At the sight of the young man, the smile on the little cook Qiu's face quickly disappears, and anger looms in his eyes.
The young man says in a sharp voice, "Congratulations to Chef Qiu. Your Golden Lion Fish, Sauce-brewed Black Sea Cucumbers, Wealth Meatballs and Immortal Boneless Fish are all valued by the imperial kitchen. They will be presented to the emperor and included in the imperial diet. This is a reward. Now it’s time to show your gratitude." After saying, he hands over a jade Ruyi (which translates literally to “as you wish”, is a curved decorative object that serves as a ceremonial scepter or a talisman symbolizing good fortune in Chinese folklore).
The Ruyi is only palm-sized, not transparent enough, and the color is not gorgeous. If it were not engraved with the words "Imperial Decree", it would have been left on the street and nobody would have wanted it. However, with these two words alone, the little cook Qiu has to kneel down and kowtow to show his gratitude to the emperor. No matter how humiliated he is, he can’t say "no".
Lin Dan also kneels down, but there is an ironic smile on her face. Since Yan Langqing became a chef, she often searched for folk delicacies for the emperor. She recommended the dishes of the restaurant to the emperor and then recorded them into the imperial diet.
The cooks she had chosen were originally very grateful with trepidation, but later found out that once the dish was served to the emperor, they could no longer sell it, otherwise it would be a crime of disrespect. Cooks often have to go through months or even years of painstaking research to develop new dishes. But with several words, she deprived others of their painstaking efforts and cut off others' financial resources, just like bandits.
Lin Dan knows what kind of virtues the Yans have, so she is not surprised or angry. She stands up and says slowly, "Please take a message to Chef Yan, tell her Lin Dan has come back and wants to compare with her once again to end the past. She will understand when she hears this." Lin Dan hands a major silver note to the eunuch.
The young man seems to know Yan Langqing very well. He doesn’t want the silver note, and laughs scornfully, "I heard her say it herself about the things between you. You were not as good as her then, and now the gap between you and her is like the difference between clouds and mud. How dare you challenge her again? "
"Then you can tell her that these four dishes are all my works and have nothing to do with the Qiaoyuan Restaurant. If she wants the dishes, come to the south district to find me. If she is afraid, then forget about it." Lin Dan takes back her silver note, saying in a calm voice, being neither humble nor pushy.
"You made the four dishes?" The young man is also one from the imperial kitchen. He is not bad at cooking and taste. He tasted the four dishes in the front hall just now. Naturally, he knows how good Lin Dan's cooking is. Her knife skill, her control of the temperature and seasoning are already of top standard, and are no worse than the cooks in the imperial kitchen. Just now he dared to say "the difference between clouds and mud", but now he can’t open his mouth.
"Yes," Lin Dan nods. "Please take a message for me."
The young man takes a deep look at her and leaves in a huff. Only then does the little cook Qiu return to absolute being and exclaim, "Master, there is really enmity between you and her! You did all you could to help my Qiaoyuan Restaurant develop new dishes, just to bring her out? "
Lin Dan takes off her lampblack-covered turban and smiles softly, "It is true there is enmity, but I didn’t do all I could. She made a move; I responded to it, that's all. There are thousands of delicious dishes in the world. Only four dishes count nothing. "
The little cook Qiu takes her to the carriage and says sincerely, "Master, I think you are better than Chef Yan. You are willing to teach others your unique skills, but Chef Yan will only plunder others' painstaking efforts. She is inferior to you both in cooking and in being a good person. "
Lin Dan raps Qiu on his forehead with her knuckles. She leaves with a smile and arrives in the south district. There is a faint cry in the alley at the fork of the road. Onlookers whisper, "Never expect the owner of this restaurant to be one who bullied teachers and destroyed ancestors, even took the money for her master's coffin!"
"It is impossible to judge a man's heart from his face, although the little boss smiles all day long, nobody knows how vicious she really is! They are both widowed at a young age. Is this retribution? "
"Yes, a young widow can do business like this; nobody knows what ugly means she used. Dirty, really dirty! "
Hearing this, Lin Dan knows without asking that the Yans must have resorted to the same trick and ran to the door to fight. She quickly pushes her way through the crowd and finds her mum Mrs. Chi sitting on the ground with her hair tangled and scratches on her cheek and neck. She must have fought with someone else and hurt herself. The earthen jar placed at the door has been smashed, the marinade spills all over the floor, and the marinated food have all been plundered by bystanders. The tables and chairs in the shop are also broken. Xiao Zhu and Peony are cleaning the shop, and they are all injured.
Ten years have passed; the Yans are still so outrageous that they always tend to drive people to the road to ruin. But Lin Dan is not the weak Lin Dan ten years ago. She ignores the criticism and scornful questioning eyes of all the people, helps her mum stand and closes the door.
"Let's close our shop from today on." She says unhurriedly, "Take advantage of this period of time, you can walk around and have fun. When this ends, we will go down to the south of the Yangtze River."
"When will you leave the capital?" Her mum doesn't want to spend more time in the capital, even for a quarter of an hour. She is afraid of the Yans.
"Soon, mum, please pack up first." Lin Dan's return to the capital is not to open a shop to make money, but to settle the dispute. The smashed shop could not cause any loss to her, nor could the tarnished reputation cause any harm to her.
"Well, I'll pack. I said at the beginning not to come back, again and again, but you just didn't listen. If we leave this time, we shall never come back, okay? “Her mum fears unceasingly even after the event.
"Well, let's find a place with beautiful scenery to stay." Lin Dan gently soothes her mum. Naturally, she wouldn’t tell her mum about the cooking competition so that her mum wouldn’t feel uncomfortable. In the eyes of noble people, an imperial chef is only a servant to serve them, but in the eyes of ordinary people, they are those whom one can’t afford to provoke.
They clean up the shop and go to sleep separately, but they don't expect the kitchen to catch fire in the middle of the night. But for Lin Dan's high alertness, she wakes up soon; otherwise everyone would have been burned to death. After extinguishing the flames, Lin Dan finds a pile of burnt dry wood and a strong smell of kerosene under the wall. She immediately realizes that it is someone deliberately sets the fire, and who it is could be known without guessing.