We entered an establishment called “Ren’s Yakiniku”, a restaurant which specialises in eastern barbeque cuisine. The same restaurant that my mentor and I ate in two years ago. The food is not cheap, and it’s one of the more popular outlets in the entire town. But, the eats on the menu were unquestioningly exquisite, so I thought it was worth the price if we ate it every once in a while.
We sat ourselves down on a table. Iris beside me and Sakaki on the opposite. In the middle of us is a square wooden table with a circular depression in the centre of it lined with clay. A waitress walks to our table to take our order. Without consent from the rest of the party that occupies the table, I proceeded to order meat and side dishes enough for a family of four. The waitress took note of the order and bowed to us before leaving.
Sakaki, in awe of what I had just done, asks, “Wha… Tell me something, am I gonna pay for that later?”
“Well, no…” I replied. “Every once in a while, I like to think that I am kind enough to treat my longest friend to a meal or two.”
Sakaki shot me a condescending look, doubting my intention.
“Really? Well I’m the kind of guy who is happy to just be treated to a good ‘ol bowl of beef ramen!” He added. “Damn. The cost of what you ordered could last me two weeks!”
Being thrifty is one thing, however, when I offered to let him experience something otherworldly, I want him to embrace it.
Having none of what he said, I rebutted “Well, you could leave if you want, but it’s your loss. It’s really good here, and… That’s when…”
Cutting me off, the waitress returns with our drinks and food along with a man who is carrying a pot of burning charcoal. He placed the pot into the clay pit that was in the centre of our table and covered the top of it with a metal mesh.
After the man is done with his work, the waitress proceeds to place our drinks and a gigantic plate on our table. The plate is filled with a plethora of raw meat, from pork, to lamb, to beef, all placed neatly. They were also peppered with different seasonings, from salt and pepper, to herbs that could only be found on the Eastern region. The waitress then explained to us the different kinds of meat, which is best to eat last and the best doneness for every meat on the plate. After that, she bowed and left us to our grub.
Both Sakaki and Iris were stunned at the amount of meat that is on the table.
“I – I have never had barbequed meat before.” Said Sakaki.
“Iris, what about you?” I asked.
Her facial expression changed from utter shock to enthusiasm and said, “Never! Buut, the meat are raw. How do we cook it?”
I took a pair of tongs and gave one to Sakaki. Using said tongs, I picked a slice of beef out from the plate, called Rosu, an exquisitely marbled chuck roll and placed it on the metal mesh atop the pot of burning charcoal and let it simmer. Sakaki did the same.
After a minute, I took the piece of beef that I placed out of the pit and placed it on Iris’ plate. She can clearly see that the fat that gave the beef it’s marbled finish has been melted and what’s left of it is a cooked medium-well-done version.
“Try it!” I prompted Iris.
She picked up the pair of chopsticks that were in front of her plate and proceeded to bring the piece of meat into her mouth. On her first bite, she screamed with her mouth closed and started pulling on my haori excitedly, indicating that she wants more.
I chuckled and said, “Haha! You can’t describe what you felt?”
She nodded her head whilst continuing to bite into the beef.
Looking at her reaction, Sakaki clicked his tongue and said, “Tch, it can’t be THAT good.” As he brings the meat he had just brought to his plate into his mouth.
His reaction on his first bite was the same as Iris. Screams and excitement. His eyes glowed like a kid and shouted, “What is this?! This beef… It’s… It’s different! It melts in your mouth!”
Fortunately for me, there are few customers in the restaurant at this very moment as it is late in the afternoon. Watching a kid’s reaction might be cute, but when a full grown male adult does it, it is a little embarrassing, for me at least.
“Wait till you try out the Karubi beef!”
The same emotions were expressed with the lamb and pork. “I will never look at every other meat the same again…” as both of them had described. Both of their favourites were the Karubi beef, as the marbling and fat content were much more than the Rosu, which made it juicer.
Having our hunger satiated, I proceeded to walk to the counter to pay the bill. Iris and Sakaki soon followed me with their stomachs bulging out a little from the amount they ate.
Walking towards me lazily with Iris, Sakaki asked, “So, how are you gonna pay for all of this?”
I produced a pouch from my bag and started to count the currency on the counter. Sakaki’s jaw dropped.
“Wait a minute. You’re rich?”, he asked as he realised that what I was counting were gold coins, the main currency that is used throughout the entire continent. A rarer sight as every region used a localised currency that fits their economy. The universal coins that I had were from the Northern Region, the region who rules the entire continent, named Raven Heart.
“I’m not the rich one.”
“Fuji was rich?!” Screamed Sakaki, as if his entire life was a lie.
Apparently, Fuji being loaded with coins is more far-fetched than me. We have been living quite thriftly, my mentor, Sakaki and I. So, I assumed that Sakaki was told to do so. I guess he was never informed that his mentor was well off.
While Sakaki was trying to piece whatever was in his mind together, Iris walks up to me, asking to be carried. I finish counting my coins and presented them to the cashier and picked up Iris while exhaling, “Oof! You’ve gained weight from that meal!”
The cashier confirmed the amount was correct and after seeing our little interaction, gave us a smile and said, “Adorable daughter you have there! Thank you for coming to Ren’s Yakiniku!”
Surprised by what he said, I replied, “Uh… Yeah, thank you!”
Walking out of the restaurant, we were confronted with a commotion towards the left of the entrance. A crowd of people gathering around a scene.
“How DARE you!” a shout came from the middle of the crowd.
Sakaki snapped out of his thoughts and turned his head sharply towards the crowd, his facial expression changed from confusion to outright disgust.
“I wonder what’s happening there.” I whispered to Iris as Sakaki tapped on my shoulder.
“Stay here.” He said and start walking towards the crowd.