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The Other World Dining Hall - Chapter 109

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Chapter 109

Chinese Porridge

It was late night, when the customers had ceased to come at 9 p.m., the business hours of otherworld dining hall was now finished.

[Well then, I'll come again.]

[[Thank you very much.]]

When the two regulars that always left last went through the door while lightly carrying huge silver pots, Saki and Aletta saw them off and the atmosphere became relaxed.

[Yosh! Good job today, Aletta.]

[Yes, thank you for your hard work, Saki-san.]

The two people thanked each other for their work. It had been 3 months since Saki started to work at the restaurant. The awkwardness that lingered between them when she just started had completely disappeared and they were now open to each other.

[Well then, let's eat dinner, after that we can go home after we finish the cleaning up.]

[I agree. I feel hungry. Today the master...]

It was when they were happily chatting. 'Chirinchirin', the sound of bell announced the arrival of a customer.

The roads that connected the port town of Kingdom had been developed as crucial roads that carried the trade of the Kingdom.

The roads were maintained, a number of people like trade merchants that carried their carriages full of luggage, knights and officials riding their horses, and adventurers and mercenaries that were hired as guards used those roads.

There were many prospering cities by the highway roads, those prosperous and crowded cities received their income from their inns, taverns and red-light districts.

Ulric was a former mercenary;he lived in one of those cities beside the highway.

About three years ago, he decided to retire there after he fell in love with a woman he met with at a city, bought with his former mercenary's skill and experience, though defeating hoodlums only provided him with cheap salary, there was only little danger living in the city so he could live his life peacefully.

...And it was often that the troubles were brought to the guards at parliament.

Ulric reflexively frowned after hearing the request of the man in front of him.

[Haa? You want me to find a restaurant?]

Hearing Ulric's words, before his eyes, the old man with white moustache {TN: or beard, not sure} named Soujun nodded.

[That's right. I want you to find that restaurant.]

He said so to Ulric.

Everything started 3 days ago, this old man seemed to have entered a certain restaurant on the way home after drinking a large amount of alcohol at his acquaintance's house.

Perhaps it's inevitable but Soujun was served a dish that he had longed to eat for many years, and then he now wished to eat it again, but there's a problem.

[Because I drank a lot of alcohol that day...]

While making his excuse, Soujun gazed at Ulric.

[...So after you ate something, before you notice it, you woke up at the storeroom of my house, and so you don't remember where the restaurant was.]

Ulric knew what Soujun was trying to say by following the flow.

[That's right. I remember eating delicious rice porridge, but I don't remember anything other than that.]

Yes, the old man in front of him did not remember where the restaurant was at all because of his intoxicated state.

His children had left the home and furthermore, his wife had died several years ago, so now he lived alone.

As a result, nobody knew where the restaurant was.

[But jii-san, you know that it is a restaurant in this town right? Why do you come to me?]

[No, it's different.]

Ulric thought that one could find a restaurant in the town by asking around, Soujun then shook his head.

[That day, I drank until late night... if there's no moonlight, perhaps I couldn't return home.]

[...I see. Certainly, there is no restaurant that's open that late.]

Hearing Soujun's words, Ulric was convinced.

Even if this was a flourishing inn town, there's no restaurant that's still open at midnight, the only stores that's still operating at that time were in the red-light district.

If the time was when the sky was darkening and night was approaching, the restaurant could be anywhere, even the taverns served simple meals, but the time was later than that.

[I remembered a little that the inside of the restaurant was as bright as the middle of the day even though it was already midnight.]

Even if his memory was blurry, he remembered about being in bright place where he could see the wood grains of the restaurant's table.

It should be a conspicuous restaurant, but he did not know about it, that's why Soujun was confused.

[I understand the story, but it's difficult, jii-san. This might be beyond me.]

Ulric who heard the story replied with a sigh.

He had never heard of such a place ever since he settled down in this town.

Perhaps he was too drunk and saw it in his dreams.

[...It's no good. Even the guards don't know every detail of the neighborhood.]

It seemed that Soujun had the same thought as Ulric.

Finishing the reminder of the state of affairs, he sighed and stood up while feeling disappointed.

[Maa, I'll tell you if I learn something. Ma, I'll return back to work now. See you.]

Ulric suddenly pitied Soujun's state and said such words.

[Aa, I'm counting on you, young man.]

Soujun smiled a little after hearing Ulric's words, the two then parted.

...It was only a few days later that the promise was fulfilled.

A few days later, Ulric who was travelling around the town caught a thief.

It was the flow of Halfling, with the appearance of an adventurer, named Ted.

He was stealthily trying to sneak into an old old man's house when Ulric nonchalantly hoisted him.

[You're wrong! I was just trying to intrude a bit, and I wasn't going to steal!]

So, the Halfling was caught by Ulric and said his excuse, Ulric then asked him.

[So why did you try to creep inside? There's nothing here except for the old man living here you know?]

That said, Ted thought a little and said with reluctant face.

[Actually, a ’’door’’ appears in this storeroom. There's no problem before when this was a vacant house, but the old man settled down here several years ago. But the old man here doesn't seem to know it, so I want to use it.]

[A door? What do you mean?]

Ulric then asked for clarification, Ted (it seemed he was a member of an adventurer party that's staying in this town) talked about it.

He then knew. This house... it was the place of the restaurant that Soujun asked about.

And then Soujun, Ulric and Ted were in the usually unused storeroom, facing the door.

The black door with the cat picture was opened, and the tiny bell sound echoed.

At the other side of the door located in the dim storeroom was a bright room, there really was a restaurant.

[Then I'll eat over there! A, keep this a secret from everyone else!]

Ted who guided them on the condition of being given pardon instead of being arrested went to a vacant table and ordered a variety of food to the blonde demon waitress.

[Welcome... e? The jii-san from before?]

Standing in place, a black-haired human waitress noticed Soujun's appearance and said slightly in surprise.

She remembered. He came to the restaurant when he was drunk nearly before closing time, he was satisfied after eating the delicious ’’employee meal’’ made by the owner and then returned home.

[Oo! It's here after all! ...No wonder I couldn't find it even after searching the whole town.]

When he saw the waitress with the nostalgic Western Continent appearance, Soujun finally remembered that day.

That day, when he heard that his old friend, someone who sailed on the same ship back when he was a sailor, had retired to that town, Soujun visited him. As they felt nostalgic, they drank sake made from the precious rice of Western Continent that he obtained as a parting gift when he got off the ship;they drank until late at night.

And when Soujun had mistaken his bed, Soujun entered the restaurant where only the waitresses and owner were left and ordered an unreasonable order thinking that it was a dream or something.

It was said that the owner made a dish using rice that was not found in Eastern Continent for Soujun that felt peckish after drinking alcohol.

[...I understand that it's an unreasonable order, that... I want I want to order the same dish as last time, can you do it?]

[Etto, please wait a moment. It's a dish that takes time to make, and it's an employee meal in the first place, so I have to ask.]

Hearing Soujun's words, the black haired waitress went to ask the owner and came back after she received her answer.

[One hour... etto, if it's the old unit, then it's half of it? It will take time, but if you're fine with it then it's possible.]

[I understand. Would you like me to wait?]

He did not know how long the time that the waitress said would take, but he heard that it could be served if he waited, so Soujun accepted.

He was an elderly that's free now. There's no problem in waiting for a while.

[...That's the case, guard-san. I shall wait, but what about you?]

[I'll be with you as long as you're here. So I'll just wait while drinking alcohol.]

Ulric decided to keep him company after hearing Soujun's question... the Halfling said that the cuisine here was very delicious, so he was curious about the food and alcohol served here.

[I understand. Then the two of you are here. Can Ulric-san read the letters? We have a menu that lists our dishes.]

[Aa, I can. Bring me that, and do you have ale?]

[We have no ale. We have beer that's similar to it though.]

[That's fine then, it's suitable to stuff my stomach.]

He sat on the chair while saying so.

After he was served with cloth squeezed with warm water to wipe his hands and cold water with ice and mixed with something like fruit juice, the waitress brought his alcohol.

[Hou! This alcohol is delicious! Nee-chan! Bring me another one!]

Seeing Ulric gulping down the golden ale with white bubbles in the clear glass cup, Soujun's mouth watered.

(Uumu. Patience, patience...)

Soujun who considerably loved alcohol also wanted to drink, but he decided not to drink today.

(That porridge, I shall not muddy my tongue with alcohol before eating that... I will endure it until I eat.)

When he ate the other day, he couldn't remember the taste well because he was drunk. He just remembered that it tasted nostalgic and delicious.

That's why that day he decided not to drink alcohol until he ate the porridge.

And then, the man who seemed to be the owner brought it.

[Thank you for waiting. Here's your Chinese porridge.]

As he said so, the owner placed down a pot holder made of wood, then a thick small-sized clay pot on top of it, and then arranged salted vegetables and golden bread on the side.

[The pot is hot, so please take care not to touch it directly, and please eat using this bowl. The sides are Szechuan pickles1 and fried bread2. pickles1 and fried bread2. Well then, please enjoy.]

Together with those words, he took off the pot lid. Soujun gulped his spit after smelling the sweet scent.

(Aa, this aroma.)

Different from fruits, the hot steam contained the aroma of cooked rice. Even when he was drunk before, he still remembered the smell.

[...That soup looks delicious.]

[No can do. I have waited to eat this.]

Ignoring the Ulric who wanted to try it, Soujun reached for the porridge.

The porridge was served in a clay pot and a large white spoon accompanied it, he could see chicken meat and curled-up pink Schripe floating in it.

He scooped up the hot, steaming porridge as it was and blew on it before he carried it to his mouth.

(Umu! ...Umu.)

At that moment, Soujun nodded deeply to the taste of porridge spreading in his mouth.

The flavor of salt that's used to delicately season the white porridge mixed with the Schripe and the umami of chicken meat.

The rice that was cooked in oil burst open into blossoms and had light sweetness, it absorbed the soup well and it overflowed every time he chewed.

Chicken skin with its distinctive texture and flavor was mixed into the porridge, and the cut Schirpe provided chewiness to the porridge.

When he ate the other day, Soujun learned deep satisfaction with the taste of porridge which he could only remember as delicious.

(However, this is not all.)

After he enjoyed the taste as it was, he picked up the pickled vegetable called Szechuan pickle that was prepared for the porridge.

In that crunchy texture, Soujun could taste a bit of sourness, saltiness, and a peculiar taste that reminded him of his hometown's fish sauce.

It tasted too strong by itself, but it was delicious when combined with the gentle taste of porridge.

Then he dropped the finely cut fried bread into the porridge and ate it. If he ate it just like that, it had a light flavor, and if he ate it after waiting for the porridge to be absorbed into it, he could enjoy the porridge that now had the flavor of fried bread's oil.

As he continued to eat, the porridge in the pot was eventually gone, only deep satisfaction remained instead.

[Fuu...]

Soujun sighed deeply in satisfaction.

Now that he had finished eating, he would enjoy the alcohol.

That's what he thought.

TN: I feel like eating Youtiao. It has so much calories though. orz

Zha cai is a type of pickled mustard plant stem originating from Chongqing, China. Youtiao, also known as Chinese fried churros, Chinese cruller, Chinese oil stick, Chinese doughnut, You Char Kway/Cakwe/Cakoi/Kueh/Kuay and fried breadstick, is a long golden-brown deep-fried strip of dough eaten in China and (by a variety of other names) in other East and Southeast Asian cuisines.

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