Kiss Day (Part 1)
「It has been a long time since I last came to this store.」
Hans unconsciously murmured in front of the glass sliding door.
Only a select few people in the Old Capital knew the worth of this eccentric store that was made of plaster and wood.
It was a shop he wanted to frequent every day, but his sentry guard salary wasn’t high. Although “Nobu” was an honest store, it was a little too luxurious for Hans and his measly income.
Even though he had the urge to just eat luxuriously without minding his financial status, Hans had to limit himself from visiting the store too often.
He had received his pay today.
He was fired up during his training and carefully paid attention to not get detained by Berthold again in order to come to this store.
Thanks to that, he was able to visit the store before the sun went down.
When he opened the sliding door, Shinobu’s bright voice and Taisho’s deep voice greeted him from inside the store.
Although almost all the seats were filled, fortunately, there was an empty seat at the counter.
「Ara, Hans, it has been a while.」
Shinobu greeted him with a big smile, while he answered with a small wave.
Almost losing hope, halfway thinking that his face won’t be remembered, this waitress remembered Hans’ face very well. For some reason, he was happy even though it was a small matter.
「Are you doing well? Come, come, there’s an empty seat at the counter.」
When he reached his seat, an appetizer was presented to him skillfully.
It wasn’t served beforehand. As the guest entered through the sliding door, Taisho served it on the spot.
There seemed to be many customers who came here after their work, as if it were already a usual thing to do. Although there were various customers, he recognised some familiar regulars.
Let’s not have beans today, but chicken and taro stew instead.
The ingredients, stewed in a sweet and spicy broth, were served in small bowls that felt warm.
Even though winter was coming to an end and spring approached, it was still chilly when night came. Serving this while thinking of people wanting to eat something warm, such was this store’s thoughtfulness.
「For the time being, would you like something to drink, Hans?」
「Yes, one “Toriaezu Nama”.」
While ordering a glass of ale, he carried the contents of the bowl to his mouth using “chopsticks”, even though using a knife and fork was more convenient.
Recently, not only Nicholas knew how to use chopsticks, but Berthold had also mastered it. Because of that, Hans practiced it secretly at home.
Still clumsy, he managed to grab the chicken meat.
Speaking of the chicken, one would imagine the tough meat of a discarded hen in the Old Capital. It didn’t become soft even if it was stewed, unlike this one. Savouring the flavour of the chicken in his mouth, he could feel the soft texture seemingly just come apart.
And then, the potato.
Nearly letting it fall from not being accustomed to handling the chopsticks, he somehow managed to bring it to his mouth.
He was told that the potato was called “taro” and that it had an intriguing texture that was indescribable. That was why he couldn’t get tired of eating this taro, which had a different texture from potatoes.
The taste was properly being permeated, making one want to eat it just a bit longer.
But, the amount was just right.
It wasn’t too much, nor was it too little. His stomach calmed down a little after eating the appetizer, so he could now take his time to think about what to order today. He had a simple plan, order the thing he liked before.
「Here is the ale. Thanks for waiting!」
「Ah, thank you.」
Hans gulped down the contents of the served glass. Yes, this feeling!
The cold, bitter taste spread in his mouth and was quickly washed down his throat.
This is why he visited this store.
While ordering another “Toriaezu Nama”, Hans looked at the menu on the wall. Before, it was written in the language of Taisho’s hometown, but now it was completely rewritten with the words of the Old Capital.
What should I order today?
Although the appetizer was tasty, he wanted to try something else after not coming for a long time. Oden was good, but he was also intrigued by doteyaki.
The number of things on the menu increased day by day and he had not tried any dishes other than the two mentioned.
「Shinobu-chan, what is today’s special?」
「Right, today’s special is it? Special, huh…」
Shinobu’s voice was bright like always. No, it seemed she was happier than usual today, almost to the point where enough happiness bursted out for everyone to see.
「Shinobu-chan, did something good happen?」
When he asked that, Shinobu hid her face with the tray in her hand while giggling, ‘Ehehe’.
「Don’t you know? Today, well… It’s ‘Kiss Day’.」