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772 Are You Fooling Me?

 Just when Yuan Zhou was looking for delicacies and surrounded by spices in Thailand, somebody came to him as per agreed.

It was an old man with a strange surname. His surname was Ji and his full name was Ji Yi. People gave him a nickname of "Steamed Bun Ji". Of course, this nickname was given to him twenty years ago.

It was during the time of old Chengdu, when Sandapao and Sugar Oil Fruit could be found everywhere. The steamed bun cooked by Ji Yi was one of the favorite foods in old Chengdu. The small restaurant "Ji Yi Steamed Buns" was always surrounded by locals every morning. All the steamed buns cooked by him could be sold out very soon. It was totally not an exaggeration to use the saying, "The supply is not adequate for the demand." to describe the scene.

Strictly speaking, Ji Yi's grandfather also lived on cooking breakfast before the PRC was founded. The craftsmanship was handed down from generation to generation. One could say they came from a great family of steamed buns or Mantou.

Ji Yi was well-known for cooking steamed buns, but his friends who were well familiar with him all knew that Ji Yi was actually better at cooking Thousand Thread Mantou. That was his masterpiece. The reason why he preferred to cook steamed buns was that they were not so complicated to prepare. On the aspect of monetization though, steamed buns were better than Mantou.

By now, the old Chengdu had changed to the new Chengdu and Ji Yi's Steamed Bun House was already closed and replaced with the current tall buildings and malls. However, Ji Yi was still living a good life. He was now the chief secretary of the China Alliance of Cooked Wheaten Food Masters, which was also an influential gilded signboard in the cooking circle.

"You are now able to take a plane on your own. You have improved a lot," Liu Zhang said to Ji Yi jokingly when he picked him up at the airport.

Ji Yi looked about 60 or 70 years old, but, actually, he was younger. He was no more than 60 years old. He took a look at Liu Zhang up and down unhappily and said, "You are still wearing the Tang suit. That really looks ugly."

They argued as soon as they met each other. However, Liu Zhang seemed to be used to that and didn't get angry at all. Then, he said, "It has been a while. Come, let me treat you to a dinner for your visit. What do you want to eat?"

"You told me on the phone that somebody could cook the Thousand Thread Mantou better than me. Where is it? I want to eat there." Ji Yi paused for a while, yet in the next breath said, "What's the name of that chef? Is he a folk master?"

The excellent local masters of cooked wheaten food were all known to Ji Yi. After all, with his current status and seniority, a good relationship network was quite necessary. There were many masters of cooked wheaten food, but on the aspect of Thousand Thread Mantou, Ji Yi was confident that nobody could outclass him.

So if what Liu Zhang said was real, he might be a folk master. After all, the saying of "Masters exist in the common folk," wasn't only a joke.

"You'll know as soon as we get there," said Liu Zhang.

Ji Yi snorted coldly, roughly meaning that, "You better show me something satisfactory."

Liu Zhang knew that Ji Yi was a person with an impatient disposition, thus he didn't say anything more and directly drove towards Taoxi Road. On the way there, he tried many times to talk to Ji Yi, but Ji Yi nevertheless didn't want to speak. The relationships between them was a little complicated, which wouldn't be mentioned herein.

Half an hour later, Liu Zhang and Ji Yi appeared in Taoxi Road. And Liu Zhang also found that there were fewer people today than in normal times. After all, it was almost dinnertime, when many people would start to line up during normal times.

In regards to the location of the restaurant, Ji Yi had nothing to complain. He had firmly believed in his heart that the boss of the restaurant was a folk master. Generally speaking, such kind of restaurants were always very remote. For example, he knew a small house that served extremely delicious Crossing Bridge Noodles, but it was very simple and crude. It was even worse than this place.

After they arrived, however, what appeared in front of Liu Zhang and Ji Yi was the closed restaurant. Liu Zhang became dumbfounded as he clearly saw the leave request on the door. What a coincidence!

"Closed?" Ji Yi pointed at the leave request on the door and asked.

"Yeah. No wonder there aren't many people in the street today." Liu Zhang said regretfully.

"Are you fooling me?" Ji Yi looked at Liu Zhang suspiciously.

No wonder Ji Yi would think so. After all, it wasn't the first time that Liu Zhang had done similar things.

"No, of course not. I didn't tell you whose restaurant it was just now. If I told you, you would definitely believe that I'm not so bored to do so," said Liu Zhang affirmatively.

"Oh, really? Wasn't it you who lied to me and got me here to eat Pumpkin Mantou?" Ji Yi sneered.

"That was an accident. I believed in the wrong person," said Liu Zhang.

"Whose restaurant is it?" Ji Yi took a look at Liu Zhang in a disbelieving manner. Then, he pointed at the restaurant and asked directly.

"You definitely know the boss. This young man is pretty awesome. He's a genius." Liu Zhang directly praised even before he told the details.

"Who is it?" said Ji Yi.

"This is the Master Chef Restaurant, of which the boss is Yuan Zhou, the one who's very famous recently," Liu Zhang said confidently.

As soon as he heard the name, Ji Yi believed that Liu Zhang wasn't kidding with him this time. After all, he had also heard of Yuan Zhou's craftsmanship.

"I heard of Yuan Zhou before from the chairman of the Chef's Alliance. He's quite an awesome young chef. And he did it well on the matter with Tengyuan last time." Ji Yi nodded his head and then said. How could he not know such a popular chef as Yuan Zhou?

"So now you believe that I'm not fooling you, right?" said Liu Zhang.

"No. I know he's indeed talented in cooking and his culinary skills are much better than his peers or even the older generation. But speaking of cooking steamed buns or Mantou, I don't think I am inferior to him," Ji Yi said with a self-confident tone.

"You are still reluctant to admit that, aren't you? Yuan Zhou's craftsmanship is just brilliant. And his Mantou is indeed more delicious than yours," said Liu Zhang earnestly.

"This little brat is so young and is already so good at cooking other dishes. How could he possibly have time to learn and make Mantou or steamed buns? Remember, I have been making the Thousand Thread Mantou for decades." Ji Yi didn't really believe that Yuan Zhou could cook better than him.

"Some people are geniuses and you will never understand how. Anyway, the Thousand Thread Mantou cooked by this little brat is indeed very authentic," Liu Zhang said affirmatively.

"Okay. I can wait a week for him. I don't believe that he's better than. Even if he began to learn cooking before he was born, his experience isn't as rich as mine." Ji Yi decided to wait for one week for Yuan Zhou and then turned to leave.

"No problem. This guy always keeps his word. He will come back one week later." Liu Zhang nodded his head continuously.

"But we must come early by then. Otherwise, we probably can't even see Yuan Zhou." Liu Zhang walked and said.

"I know. This guy cooks so well and deserves such treatment. I'll try his craftsmanship then." Ji Yi answered.

Meanwhile, Yuan Zhou had no idea of that as he was now in Thailand. He was trying to refuse a sauce that smelled not so pleasant.

The matter was very simple. That short waiter had truly understood Yuan Zhou's meaning and then brought hot water for them. In order to thank Yuan Zhou, the old couples seated behind insist they sit together with him. Then, the grandma began to introduce a kind of specialty sauce from Thailand enthusiastically and wanted to add it for Yuan Zhou.

The sauce was a kind of brown paste and was in a big plastic bottle. Even before it was opened, it emitted a kind of mixed scent including citronella grass, lemon, holy basil, and tender ginger as well as peppermint.

It was simply a challenge for his nose.

"Thank you, grandma. I don't really like the taste of the sauce." Yuan Zhou refused flatly.

"No, you must taste it. This is the specialty sauce used for eating beef with from Thailand. You must add a little more lemon. The tourist guide taught us to eat like that. It's supposed to be very tasty." While saying that, the grandma prepared half a bowl of sauce for him.

"Thank you, grandma. That's enough." Yuan Zhou signaled to the grandma continuously.

He felt that his nose would soon stop working.

"How persistent exactly are the Thailanders to using spices?" Yuan Zhou stared at the sauce in the bowl and counted the dozens of spices of which the taste contradicted each other in his heart carefully.

EMPTY Sandapao() is a kind of traditional snacks in Chengdu. It's actually three sticky rice balls.