Wang Long and the other master Chefs looked at each other; they each noticed the looks of shock in the others eyes.
They knew very well that this kind of flavor had not originated from salt or any other condiments for that matter.
In fact, they were sure that no salt or condiments were even used during the dishs preparation; even so, the dishs aroma was mysteriously pleasant.
In that moment, all four master Chefs had the exact same thought.
It was also very likely that the dish had been seasoned with some kind of unknown spice.
Little did they know that the aroma came from the ingredients alone.
“Now, I trust that all master Chefs are done with the tasting.
There are still five servings of abalone and a little bit of fried rice left.
Who else wants to try” Liu Qingfeng said.
Having heard Liu Qingfengs question right then, Luo Sheng decided to make his obnoxious presence known.
“Let us try it!” Luo Sheng said.
“I believe that given our professionalism, well be able to provide inputs that are right on point.”
“You people” Liu Qingfeng said, glancing briefly at Luo Sheng and the other judges.
The fried rice had been completely untouched before.
Obviously, no one from this table had even bothered to taste the fried rice; no doubt most of them had deemed it as “pig fodder”.
It did not matter at all that Zhang Han had a connection with them, since the taste of the fried rice alone was enough to take Liu Qingfengs breath away.
How could such a savory dish be labelled as “pig fodder” What an utter travesty!
Besides, Zhang Lis words just now had enabled Liu Qingfeng to fully grasp what was really going on here.
So now, Liu Qingfeng merely chuckled humorlessly at Luo Shengs suggestion and shamed Luo Sheng mercilessly.
“You people dont know jack sh*t,” Liu Qingfeng said.
“Having you people taste it will just be a waste!”
That one statement turnedLuo Sheng as red as a tomato; it had also intensified the look of anger that Wang Long was giving Luo Sheng.
You still have the balls to speak at a time like this Wang Long thought.
Havent you noticed that even President Niu and the others were keeping their mouths shut
If possible, Wang Long really wanted to give Luo Sheng a piece of his mind.
Then again, Liu Qingfeng no longer paid Luo Sheng any heed.
Instead, he turned his eyes to the crowd and said, “then lets take a fairer approach, shall we Come, everyone.
If you are here purely as an audience, then please raise your hand.
I will pick out a few of you to sample the food.”
A series of rustles sounded.
Other than the people standing around Zi Yan, almost everyone else had raised their hand.
There were even a few members of the media who joined in the fun.
“So many of you” Liu Qingfeng stopped the movements of his hands for a while.
Then, he said, “if you are relatives or friends of the competitors or members of the press, please lower your hands.
I only want tourists.”
The moment those words were out, more than half of the people who had raised their hands lowered their hands back down.
“Alright, then,” said Liu Qingfeng.
“I shall now begin my selection.
The girl on the back in white blouse.
You dont have to look around.
And lets see…” Liu Qingfeng paused slightly.
“The chubby guy on the left with short sleeve blue shirt.
And the guy in the back with glasses…”
Liu Qingfeng picked five people from the crowd at one go.
Three of them were women while the other two were men; all of them were in their early 20s.
Having been picked out from the crowd, they felt a bit nervous as well as excited.
They walked up to the stage and lined up in the order that they had been called.
“Now, start tasting.
One of you at a time.” To the woman in the white blouse, Liu Qingfeng said, lLittle girl, you go first.”
Having heard Liu Qingfengs words, the restaurant manager quickly prepared a new set of cutleries for the woman.
He said nothing else.
To be frank, he felt like his presence was completely redundant right now; Liu Qingfeng had taken control of the entire event like some general commanding an army.
“Um, then Ill start right now” The woman in white blouse felt a little nervous.
She picked up a pair of chopsticks and, with them, she picked up a piece of abalone.
When the food entered her mouth, she thought that it tasted good and fresh.
She enjoyed it very much.
After that, she reached her chopsticks towards the fried rice whose appearance left much to be desired.
That was when Wang Long spoke up.
“Young lady,” Wang Long said, “its best if you to take a sip of water first.
That will wash away the aftertaste of the previous dish.
And you should switch to a clean pair of chopsticks to taste the fried rice.”
“Oh, yes, yes, thats right.” The woman blushed and quickly took a bottle of mineral water and chopsticks handed to her by the manager.
She took a sip of water and tasted a mouthful of fried rice.
The first thought that hit her was that it was bland and tasteless.
Had the dish not been salted at all
To someone like her who preferred food with a strong flavor, this had not been a good experience so far.
But when she chewed for the second and third times, her eyes slowly widened.
Wave after wave of the rice and eggs aroma crashed into her like a deluge originating from a 3,000-meter waterfall .
The aroma grew stronger as she chewed.
Soon, she found herself intoxicated by the taste.
She could not help but feel addicted to it.
She had swallowed her first mouthful without knowing it and had inadvertently stretched out her chopstick, hoping to get a second helping.
Just then, Wang Long once again cleared his throat.
“Young lady,” Wang Long said, “there isnt much fried rice left.
Also, thats a used chopstick.”
“Oh, dear, Im so sorry.
I just couldnt help myself,” the woman said sheepishly.
Its alright.” Liu Qingfeng smiled casually.
“Now, lets hear your comments, shall we”
“Mmhm, okay.” The woman nodded and said, “Im just a small employee at a technological company, so it isnt often that I get to taste the delicacies prepared by famous chefs.
In terms of aesthetics and the presentation of both dishes, Id say that the abalone fared a bit better.
In terms of taste, well, Im not a professional, so Im probably not the best judge on this, but I personally prefer the fried rices taste.
I mean, its super delicious.
Truly, it tastes absolutely heavenly.
This is actually the first time in my life that I had tasted fried rice with such amazing aroma.”
“Well said,” Liu Qingfeng said before releasing a chuckle.
Then, he waved his palm lightly and said, “little Ling.”
Little Ling, who had been standing behind Liu Qingfeng the whole time, now stepped forward and took out a wad of brand new banknotes from a bag.
Xiao Ling gave the woman a tiny smile and said, “thank you for your participation and for your comments.” Little Ling handed the banknotes to the woman.
“Ah But this…” The woman was stunned.
For a moment, she just stood there in mild confusion and panic.
She had no idea what to do with her hands.
“This is to reward you for your effort and participation.
Please accept it,” little Ling said and placed the banknotes in the womans hand.
The woman held the banknotes, still at her wits end.
“I cant let you help out for nothing, can I You deserve it,” Liu Qingfeng said casually.
“Thank you, thank you,” the woman said, no longer bothering to decline the gift.
Her eyes glinted in excitement.
She had never expected to be able to earn cash just for having a meal; and that much money pretty much amounted to half of her monthly salary!
The four other people behind the woman found their hearts leaping at the sight.
F*ck! So generous Giving out more than 10,000 for just a simple tasting So frigging awesome!
The other audience in the crowd, however, felt nothing but envy.
None of them had expected todays competition to be filled with so many twists and turns.
Nor had they expected it to end on such a dramatic note.
“Alright, next.” Liu Qingfeng said with a wave of his hand; it was like he was a master of ceremony of the whole event.
Next in line was the shortsighted guy who wore glasses.
His appearance gave others an impression of gentle and quiet disposition.
But, you should never judge a book by its cover…
Youve all worked hard today.
Ahem! These dishes all look so yummy.
Heck, Ive been drooling even when I was off the-stage just now.” The man spoke animatedly.
Then, when he saw the manager still standing there, he could not help but give the manager a little reminder.
“Hey, manager, snap out of it and bring me a new set of cutleries, please.
Why are you still daydreaming over there”
The mans words and the teasing look on his face brought an energetic vibe to the event; the crowd began whispering after he spoke.
The manager quickly brought over a new set of cutleries.
Apparently, the man had a sense of humor.
He took the fried rice with his chopsticks and then put it into his mouth.
Then, for as long as five seconds, he never said a thing.
When he swallowed, his entire face changed.
“Holy sh*t!” He said loudly.
“How can this be just a simple fried rice This is just way too good.
I really have to give credit to the chef.
I mean, hell, to be able to take a common dish like egg fried rice to such a level Surely, the chefs culinary skills have reached the highest possible level.
With skills like that, its like all external ornamentations and embellishment of a dish can be stripped away and it wouldnt even matter.
The essence of the dish would be preserved and it would still taste delicious even if its presented in its primitive and natural form.
Theres this saying about great things being nothing more than combinations of simple principles.
If we look at the Jin Chan Abalone, it looks fancy and ornate on the surface, but when tasted, its flavor might just be so-so! Anyway, I dont plan on tasting the abalone.
Because I dont think Im able to eat anything else after Ive tasted the fried rice.
Ugh, you sure I cant have another bite”
The mans words caused everyone to look at him in mild surprise.
Surely, that was too much of an exaggeration
“Alright, enough nonsense,” Liu Qingfeng said in a tone of amusement.
“Taste the abalone and give your comments.”
Right now, Liu Qingfengs priority was to allow both participants of this competition to be judged fair and square.
When he had sampled the two dishes just now, it was clear which dish should be crowned the victor.
There was no need at all for him to pull any strings.
“Okay, then.” The bespectacled man nodded.
Obediently, he took a fresh pair of chopsticks and reached for the abalone.
After he had tasted it, he found that the Jin Chan Abalone did not taste bad at all, just that when compared to the fried rice, it fell short considerably.
That was the reality of it, even if he did end up being very biased when he made his next comment.
“This dish, well, to be honest, its good overall.
But there are a few minor flaws…”
By the time the man went on a spiel again, Zhang Han had already lost all interest in the competition.
He did not feel like lingering around any longer.
Zhang Han wiped his hand with a napkin and headed back to Zi Yan.
When he reached her, he chuckled lightly and said, “Lets go.”
“Mm,” Zi Yan said with a light tilt of her forehead.
From within Zi Yans embrace, Mengmeng reached out her tiny arms.
“PaPa, hug, hug.”
Zhang Han grinned and took Mengmeng into his arms.
After that, he and Zi Yan stood up and walked out of the restaurant casually.
Liu Qingfeng had noticed their departure, though he had no plans of following them; he would visit them later after this was over.
Then again, he had no intention of wasting his time here, either.
So he waved his hand to interrupt the bespectacled mans grand speech about the abalones shortcomings.
In the end, the bespectacled man earned himself a fee, too.
All five audience had tasted both dishes, and each and everyone of them had favored the fried rice.
Listening to the comments given by the audience, Lv Chaos face paled further.
Now, he knew d*mn well that the high and mighty Chairman Liu was backing his opponent!
Just how much trouble have I brought upon myself Lv Chao thought.
A chill went straight into Lv Chaos heart.
Still, Lv Chao felt a bit of hope when he heard Liu Qingfengs next words.
“Chef Wang, why dont the four of you evaluate each dish” Liu Qingfeng said.
Having noticed the reverse of situation, Lv Chao shot a hopeful look towards Wang Long.
He was hoping that his grandmaster would put in a few good words for him.
The audiences comments from before were nothing compared to Wang Longs evaluation!
Wang Long did not even spare Lv Chao a single glance.
Wang Long turned his eyes towards the members of the press and cleared his throat.
“Well, I must say that the crowds here today have a good judgement for foods.
It is without a single doubt that in terms of taste, the fried rice comes out on top.
In my professional opinion, the Jin Chan Abalone is unremarkable, and there are various flaws in its preparation that I can readily point out.
The fried rice, however, had shocked me for quite a while.
It had been prepared without the use of any seasonings and condiments.
It had won me over with just the flavor of the rice and the eggs.”
Wang Longs words drained all the blood away from Lv Chaos face.
Deep down, in his heart, he was completely crushed, yet he was also burning with rage at the same time!
It was just a simple egg fried rice! A simple egg fried rice that had been prepared in nothing more than 20 seconds!
What right do you have to beat me!
Why did I not have any connections with people like Liu Qingfeng! Damn it all!
Nobody paid any attention to Lv Chao, whose eyes had already turned red; the other three master Chefs beside Wang Long had already begun giving their evaluations.
“This fried rice had filled me with thousands of inexplicable emotions.
I mean, to be able to turn a fried rice into such a delicacy.
I think we can all call this person the King of Fried Rice…”
Once each master Chef had said their piece, the arena slowly quietened.
The eyes of everyone in the crowd were now filled with surprise.
None of them had expected that a dish as simple as egg fried rice could win the competition in such a compelling fashion.
The crowd thought about those judges and their evaluations before; all eyes now turned to original judges who were all sitting there with their head lowered in shame.
None of them said a thing.
“Alright then, the evaluation is done.” The cold look returned to Liu Qingfengs face again as he turned to look at the manager.
“As the manager of Aslin Restaurant, do you have any questions”
Liu Qingfeng turned to his left.
“What about you, Mr.
Niu Any questions And what about the panel of judges just now None of you have any questions”
“No, no,” Niu Xuebo said softly.
The people in question shook their heads in succession.