40.1 Superb Wheat Foods
The main hall of the Orchid Fragrance Inn was about six, seven hundred square meters. A third of it was filled with counters for greeting guests and room registrations. The other two-thirds was a simple restaurant. Nian Bing had given it a cursory glance when he arrived. What he saw could only be described as decorations too horrible to endure. Each long table was uncovered, exposing the wood. The legs of the tall chairs seemed like they would break off any moment. The surrounding walls were even more worn-out – the wallpaper was not even complete. Could you really call this sort of a place a restaurant? If it not for the rooms being fairly clean, and the price being inexpensive, Nian Bing would have definitely not chosen to stay here. However, the scene before him made him unable to believe his eyes. It was barely nightfall, but there was already a long queue in front of the entrance. The restaurant was filled with customers, and there were at least ten servers shuttling around in a bustle. It was a lively sight to behold.
This sort of beat-up place has so many guests? The guests in beautiful clothing answered the question – that this run-down restaurant had some sort of operative trick, a trick that could not be separated from its food.
What sort of flavor could attract so many guests? Nian Bing suddenly became curious. He walked up to the counter and asked the attendant, “Your restaurant has so many guests! What is good to eat here?”
The attendant looked at Nian Bing’s handsome face and was unable to repress a blush. Proudly, the attendant said, “Sir, you must be from out-of-town. In our Ice Orchid City, our Orchid Fragrance Restaurant’s roasted chicken wings and City South Deng Yan Pastry Mansion’s Deng Yan Pastry1 are our most famous delicacies. I don’t know how many people have come here because of its reputation, especially to eat our Orchid Fragrance chicken wings.”
“Oh?” The attendant’s words piqued Nian Bing’s interest. If there were such delicious chicken wings, he had to try them today. Without further ado, he strode to the end of the long line outside the restaurant without hurrying and waited patiently.
Although he was at the very back of the line and outside the main hall, Nian Bing was able to see the scene in front of the restaurant by just slightly scooting to the side. The chicken wings were fried right by the streetside. The fragrance from the roasting filled the air. Through observation, Nian Bing saw that the roasted chicken wings were lacking the drumette and the wing tip, only having the wingette. No wonder it was the signature dish of Ice Orchid City. There were two chefs in charge of barbecuing. Their movements were very quick as they continuously turned the wings over the oven. They used bamboo sticks to put on two chicken wings per skewer. Every skewer had two bamboo sticks which allowed the chicken wings to be roasted steadily over the oven. From their roasting technique, Nian Bing could not discern any special characteristics. However, he did not believe that that could be the secret to attracting so many people, so he patiently observed as he did before.
Finally, under Nian Bing’s careful scrutiny, he discovered something mysterious in the Orchid Fragrance Roasted Chicken Wings – the marinade. As soon as the chicken wings were going to be cooked, the two chefs would lift up the chicken wings from the furnace and brush on a layer of marinade from behind the oven. After brushing on the marinade, they would roast the chicken again, causing a sweet fragrance to disseminate out. The chicken wings then changed from a golden yellow to a brown and would be finished after a little bit of roasting.
That’s right, the secret was definitely in the marinade. That marinade must have been specially mixed using a secret technique. Seeing this, Nian Bing became even more firmer in his resolve to try some of the chicken wings. He was not in a rush and still patiently waited in line as before.
It took time to roast the chicken wings. When Nian Bing had first joined the queue, the sky still held the afterglow of the setting sun, but when his turn came, the sky was completely pitch black. When he turned to look at the long line of people behind him, he couldn’t help but sigh internally. To have business like this was really quite nice.
“Sir, what kind of chicken wings do you want, and how many skewers would you like? Also, do you want to eat here or take away?” The attendant in charge of taking money asked Nian Bing.
Recovering his focus, Nian Bing said, “How many kinds of chicken wings do you have here? I want one of each to eat here.”
The attendant said, “Okay. There are four kinds of chicken wings – original, mildly spicy, single-spice and double-spice. Are you sure you want one of each skewer? Our mildly spicy chicken wings sell the best and have the nicest flavor.”
Nian Bing smiled and said, “Of course. I came here because of its reputation, so naturally I would want to try all of chicken wings. How much does it cost?”
The attendant looked at Nian Bing strangely and said, “Our Orchid Fragrance Restaurant has a rule: if you buy the chicken wing then you must eat it all, especially when you dine-in.”
Nian Bing nodded and said, “Okay, please hurry up then. How much does it cost?”
The attendant replied, “The chicken wings are three bronze coins per skewer. Four skewers will be one silver coin and two bronze coins all together. Currently, there is nowhere to sit inside, so you will have to wait here for a moment.”
Nian Bing handed over his money and stood to the side. Because he was in the front, he could clearly see the appearance of the marinade. A deep brown, viscous juice filled a round bucket. The chefs used brushes to coat the juice onto the roasting chicken.
Smelling that strange sweet scent, Nian Bing continued to guess what the real ingredients of the mix were, but he could not determine its composition for certain. It seemed that he had to eat it to confirm.
Finally, Nian Bing’s four skewers of chicken wings were done. When the chicken wings were given to Nian Bing, he could not help but stare at it blankly. At this moment, he finally understood what was single-spice and what was double-spice. The original chicken wing was finished after the application of the marinade. The mildly spicy chicken had the original flavor as the base, but was then sprinkled with a bit of chili oil. The single-spice was already extremely scary. One side of the entire chicken wing was completely covered in chili peppers. As for the double-spice, Nian Bing clearly saw that the chicken wing was put into a bag filled with chili peppers and shaken up. Using the natural stickiness of the chicken wing, every part of it was covered with chili peppers. Heavens! Is it even possible to eat this?
Seeing Nian Bing’s doubtful expression, the attendant smiled. “Sir, there is still no space inside to sit right now. I must trouble you to stand here and eat. We have a rule here – if you can finish a double-spice chicken wing skewer, then you can get another for free.”
Nian Bing looked at the chicken wings in his hands. First, he took a bite of the original skewer. Immediately, a thick, sweet taste filled his tastebuds. It was certainly delicious, but just as he was sighing in admiration, Nian Bing discovered the weak point of the chicken. Very quickly, the original chicken wing skewer was all eaten up. To have been able to make Nian Bing eat it this quick, this chicken certainly had its own original charm.
Just as he had finished eating a chicken skewer, Nian Bing finally could discern the ingredients of the marinade. No wonder it was that sweet – the marinade contained at least six kinds of medicinal herbs. Moreover, each medicinal herb complemented the others completely. Not only did it improve the flavor, but it also had a pretty good healing effect on the body. As expected, it had a special characteristic.
With a slight smile, Nian Bing picked up the mildly spicy chicken and started to eat it. There was a hint of a spicy flavor along with the sweetness which satisfied his craving when eating it. No wonder the attendant recommended this one, the flavor was definitely great! If it weren’t for the improper techniques of the chefs, it could be better by a whole level.
Finally, he picked up the single-spice skewer. Suddenly, he felt somewhat afraid. He took a tiny bite at first, to taste it. There was no special feeling when he first placed it in his mouth; it was not even as spicy as the mildly spicy one. But a moment later, to his surprise, the flavor of the chilli peppers exploded like a blazing flame, making him immediately open his mouth. Feeling like his mouth could spit out fire, Nian Bing gasped for breath with his mouth open wide. God! Can people really eat this? It’s killer spicy.
“Water, water…” Nian Bing yelled out loudly. The kind-hearted server forced herself not to smile and gave him a cup of tea.
Sweat flowed down his forehead; Nian Bing was sweating even on the inside! Just a tiny bite and already his eyes and nose had started to run. He immediately decided that these crazy chilli peppers and the mildly spicy chicken wings from before were completely different. It used a special chilli pepper. He could not deny that they were extremely flavorful, but the level of spiciness was something that Nian Bing had never encountered. God! My poor mouth. At this moment, he felt like his lips had already become inflamed. Was this a delicacy or poison?
A cup of tea later, Nian Bing’s stomach was still scorching. The power of these chilli peppers were indeed abnormal. Looking at the remaining chicken wings in his hands, he no longer had the courage to take a second bite, not to mention the double-spice. He said to the attendant, “Sorry, I really cannot eat anymore.”
The attendant smiled and said, “I was just teasing you just now. There is a spot over there. Do you want any more skewers of chicken wings? These were just set down.”
Nian Bing sighed in relief. Following the server’s lead, he was sat down at a seat near a window. He asked, “Then could you give me a couple of original flavor skewers?” Through sampling these chicken wings, his impression of the Orchid Fragrance Chicken Wing Shop had increased greatly. Not to mention that although those six medicinal herbs weren’t very expensive, when added to the roasted chicken wings, the profits lessened compared to ordinary roasted chicken wings. To show such concern for customers, the boss of this place must be a very magnanimous person.
The strength of the chilli pepper gradually lessened. Nian Bing really wanted to try a bit of the double-spice chicken wings, but he could not muster up enough courage. At this moment, it became two girls’ turn to buy chicken wings. One of the girls said, “I heard that you have an extremely premium chicken wing here. Please give me ten skewers of your premium chicken wings.”
When she said this, no matter if it were the inside or outside of the restaurant, the entire place sunk into silence. Everyone gazed at the two ordinary-looking girls with monstrous expressions.
“What are you looking at? Don’t tell me there aren’t any high-quality goods here? Ever since we were small we loved to eat chilli peppers, so this time, we specifically came here to try it.”
The attendant did not say anything and simply nodded to the chefs. In just a moment, ten chicken skewers were deposited into the hands of the girls.
When they took the chicken wings, the two girls were completely shocked. One of them asked dumbly, “This, where is the chicken here?” The so-called premium goods were the double-spice chicken wings! The chicken wings were completely covered by chilli peppers and could not be seen from the outside. When she said that, the whole room immediately broke into uproarious laughter.
The attendant said with a smile, “The chicken wing is inside the chilli peppers. The chilli peppers were stuck onto the chicken while the marinade was still thick and sticky. These are your premium goods! Please, have a bite.”
The girl on the left bit into it. “I don’t believe that it could be that spicy.” While saying that, she confidently took a bite into the chicken.
Nian Bing stared at the girl. He certainly had to admire the girl’s bravery.
But what else could the results be from taking a giant bite of the premium chicken wings? Very soon, the girl was crying. It was not just tears of injury. Tears and snot uncontrollably ran down her face. With her mouth opened wide, she wanted to cry out, but no words would come forth. Nian Bing clearly saw that her tongue was somewhat swollen. He doubted that the girl wouldn’t start spitting out flames.
Shaking his head with a smile, Nian Bing knew that he should leave since he had already analyzed the secret of the chicken wings. But before he could leave, he wanted to do something for this restaurant. He walked over to the girl who was unable to endure the spiciness and condensed a ball of ice in his right hand and placed it in her mouth. “It should be fine with this. From now on, don’t be so reckless. The chilli peppers here are extremely amazing.”
The attendant looked at Nian Bing in surprise. She did not understand where that ice cube had come from. Nian Bing smiled and said, “Could I roast some chicken wings to eat? I will pay twice the price.”
Hearing these words, the server immediately looked shocked. She shook her head and said, “Sorry, the marinade of the chicken wings is a trade secret, so outsiders are not allowed to get close to it.”
Nian Bing interrupted her, “Relax, I will not use your marinade.” While saying this, he walked over to the two chefs and picked up five skewers of chicken wings and put it over the flame.
The chef nearest to Nian Bing creased his eyebrows. “What are you doing?”
Nian Bing wore a warm smile as he said, “I will teach you how to make the chicken wings even better.”
The chef laughed loudly. “Funny. Our Orchid Fragrance Shop’s chicken wings are renowned under the heavens. It has the reputation of being the number one chicken wings in the world. What use do we have for your teachings?”
Nian Bing said indifferently, “Foolish conceit has made your cooking arts regress. Although chilli peppers are top-quality goods, they cover the original flavor of the chicken wing. Since you believe that these are the number one under the heavens, then what is the harm in letting me try? The guests can be the judges here. If you lose, I do not want anything. If I lose, I will pay you a purple-gold coin. How ‘bout that?”
The chef angrily retorted, “Are you trying to pick a fight?”
Nian Bing shook his head. “No, I am just saying that I will teach you how to roast chicken wings.” Looking at the chef roasting chicken wings on top of the stove, he smiled lightly and said, “You shouldn’t roast chicken wings like that. Watch carefully, I will do it only once.”
- A pastry shaped like an eye. ↩