Translator: Henyee Translations Editor: Henyee Translations
“This squid tastes… this squid tastes…” Wang Xiang muttered repeatedly while chewing.
“Stop mumbling. Don’t talk when eating,” Zhang Yan said as he felt uncomfortable seeing Wang Xiang struggling to speak while eating.
“This squid tastes excellent,” said Wang Xiang as he finally swallowed the squid before speaking.
Nowadays, anyone who ate Yuan Zhou’s food would automatically gain a new skill: eating while speaking very clearly.
What Wang Xiang did earlier was an example of this. He could even talk, swallow, and reach out to fight for more food all at the same time.
That’s right. The judges were now fighting for food.
“That’s a given. Squids have always been delicious. Why else would it be my favorite food?” said Bai Xiaoxiao in satisfaction as he had just successfully snatched a tentacle.
“I have never been a fan of squid tentacles, but Yuan Zhou’s squid tentacles are truly worth eating,” said Zhou Shijie leisurely. His hands, on the other hand, were moving much faster than his mouth.
Zhou Shijie was after all a regular at Yuan Zhou’s restaurant. Thus, he had long mastered the art of food snatching, able to maintain complete calm while doing it now.
As for Zhang Yan, as usual, he spoke less and spent more time eating instead. This was something he learned during the exemplary restaurant selection.
Therefore, he was presently silently eating without a stop.
“That squid seems to be very well received?” said Ao Pi. Although they couldn’t hear what the judges said, they could still see what the judges were doing.
“It’s understandable that one or two of his dishes will be well received. After all, he is so famous at such a young age,” said Chef Li calmly after throwing Yuan Zhou a glance.
“But they are nearly finishing the dish,” grumbled Ao Pi.
“Nothing weird about that. My mantis shrimp dish was finished as well,” said Chef Li proudly. When he saw that Ao Pi was still frowning, he added, “My sea snail dish was finished as well.”
“True,” Ao Pi finally calmed down and continued waiting for the judges to reach their verdict.
In this match, ten points could be awarded per dish, with Zhou Shijie and Zhang Yan both having three points each while Bai Xiaoxiao and Wang Xiang had two points each.
The maximum points a single dish could get was 10, and with a total of seven dishes, they could gain a maximum of 70 points. Toward the end, the one with the higher points would be the winner.
Yuan Zhou would usually make dishes that were smaller in portion yet incredibly delicious. That was out of consideration for the judges.
After all, this was a match and the judges were not only here for his food. He had to take into consideration his opponent’s dishes as well. Thus, he only made a portion large enough for the judges to get a taste of his dishes.
Thus, after the Eight Clawed Flaming Mountain was finished, even the onion pieces were cleared by the judges.
All four judges glorified their action by claiming that onions were healthy. Moreover, the flavor of the squid had permeated into the onion pieces. Them eating the onion pieces were part of the evaluation process. Thus, the onion pieces were finished.
Subsequently, when they saw that the plate was even cleaner than their faces, they started to feel awkward. Zhou Shijie was still the experienced one. His expression remained the same as he spoke.
“Next, let us taste the seafood alliance’s Flaming Squid,” said Zhou Shijie as he gestured at the assistant.
“Yes, I agree,” said Zhang Yan.
Bai Xiaoxiao and Wang Xiang also nodded as they waited for more squid.
“Please wait a moment,” said the assistant as she took out a lighter after serving the dish.
That’s right, the seafood alliance had also prepared a burning squid, but it was different than Yuan Zhou’s.
Their squid was skewered on a bamboo stick, with the squid’s head facing the bottom and wrapped with aluminum foil. The assistant poured some white liquor around the squid before lighting it up.
Instantly, the aluminum foil was ignited, causing a strong aroma of liquor to spread in the air.
“My turn,” said Liu Jie at the red counter confidently as he looked at his own work.
“What do you think, Head Chef Liu?” asked Chef Li with a smile when he heard that.
“Complete confidence,” said Liu Jie with a smile.
“Yuan Zhou’s dish was finished by them. What do you think about that, Head Chef Liu?” asked Chef Li.
“His portion is smaller, so it’s nothing special for his dish to be finished. Moreover, his dish might taste decent too. But it won’t be better than mine,” said Liu Jie.
“Haha, with these words, I am assured,” said Chef Li with a laugh.
The two did not keep talking as the judges were starting to eat.
For this dish, the flame stayed burning for about 20 seconds before it stopped. Then, steam started coming out the aluminum foil while an aroma of squid spread out.
Whoosh. Whoosh. The assistant took the aluminum foil off before making an inviting gesture with her hand, hinting that the judges could start eating now.
“Um. So who’s going first?” asked Zhou Shijie as he turned around.
“You first, of course,” said Wang Xiang.
“Yes, you,” Zhang Yan said.
“Yes, please go ahead, Chairman Zhou,” said Bai Xiaoxiao.
“Ok. I’ll start then,” Zhou Shijie smiled, yet he was cursing inwardly.
“These old foxes are definitely trying to fill my stomach with this dish so I can’t eat too much of Yuan Zhou’s dishes later on. How treacherous of them,” thought Zhou Shijie as he reached for the squid.
From how the judges were letting the others start first, it was clear this Flaming Squid was inferior to Yuan Zhou’s Eight Clawed Flaming Mountain.
And that was without even mentioning the very tiny trace of fishy scent Bai Xiaoxiao smelled when the aluminum foil was opened.
That wasn’t the flavor of the “sea”. Rather, that was the bad smell of seafood that hadn’t been handled properly. If it wasn’t for the fact that they had just eaten Yuan Zhou’s perfect squid just a moment ago, this tiny scent might even go undetected.
Unfortunately, that scent failed to stay undetected.
To be fair, the squid made by Liu Jie was still decent. Squid should be eaten while hot. Therefore, heat control was very important. Therefore, the squid wasn’t burned just for show. Rather, it also served as a form of heat control.
That’s right. Liu Jie’s dish wasn’t completely cooked when served. Rather, when it was about 60% cooked, the squid was wrapped in aluminum foil. After being served, the squid was completely cooked using the liquor and fire.
If the squid was eaten right after that, it would be the perfect timing as the temperature would be just nice. But he had not considered the fact that wrapping up an uncooked squid would cause some bad fishy smell to linger within.
“If I hadn’t tried Boss Yuan’s squid, I would still love this dish greatly,” lamented Bai Xiaoxiao inwardly.
That’s right. He used to love this dish in the past, but now, he did not even feel like eating it. Bai Xiaoxiao felt like the gap between Yuan Zhou and Liu Jie was the gap between a master and an apprentice.
Fortunately, Liu Jie’s dish wasn’t that large of a portion as well. After they each took a skewer, only four skewers were left. Clearly, Liu Jie had prepared two skewers for each judge.
But the four judges seemed to have some sort of tacit understanding as they completely ignored the four remaining skewers and moved on to the next dish. When Liu Jie saw the leftover skewers, he felt awkward.
Chef Li patted Liu Jie’s shoulder and comforted him. For him, the defeat of one or two dishes did not matter. They only needed to obtain higher total points than Yuan Zhou.
In the following dishes, they still tried Yuan Zhou’s dish first. In the opinion of Chef Li and company, this was an act of keeping the best for the last, while Yuan Zhou felt that these judges were very childish as they would always select the better dishes first.
Thus, the two parties understood the same situation in a completely different manner.
Before long, they reached the last dish, also the main course of the day, the crabs. Strictly speaking, in terms of preparation method and ingredients handling, this was the hardest dish to prepare.
“Let’s start from Head Chef Yuan’s dish as usual,” said Wang Xiang expectantly.
“The crabs look really good,” Zhang Yan nodded.
“These crabs were imported by me from California. Each of them is large and fresh. More importantly, the meat of the pincers make up 60% of the crab’s meat,” said Bai Xiaoxiao proudly.
“Sure, sure. They are even twins,” teased Wang Xiang.
“I’ll have to properly try it,” said Zhou Shijie.
“Next are the final dishes of this match, Head Chef Yuan’s Big Crabs and seafood alliance’s Rolling Crab Dumpling. First to be tasted is Head Chef Yuan’s Big Crabs,” said the host.