Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
'Always follow your guts,' Min Sung told himself, almost as if trying to justify his decision. When it came to spicy raw fish soup, the raw fish variant was arguably the way to experience the dish. Then, along with a series of side dishes, a bowl of spicy raw fish soup arrived at the champion's table.
'That was a lot quicker than I thought. Maybe it doesn't take that long to prepare, after all,' he thought as his stomach growled loudly, almost as if reminding the champion of his hunger. Picking up a pair of chopsticks, Min Sung looked at the soup, paying no attention to any of the side dishes. The sight of ice cubes floating on the red, spicy broth, which was garnished with a mountain of fresh vegetables and slices of raw fish, was more than enough to bring out the champion's appetite.
'I feel refreshed just looking at it,' he thought as he looked at the bowl next to it, which was filled with a mound of white flour noodles. It had to be an additional component to the dish, which could be added to the soup at the end.
'Let's give this a try,' Min Sung thought, mixing the ingredients in the soup together, which all spun together like a tornado. Once all the ingredients were mixed sufficiently with the broth, Min Sung picked up a big mouthful of the fresh, spicy concoction, after which, he smacked his lips and brought the spoonful to his mouth. An explosion of sour, sweet and savory flavors filled his mouth.
'Cold. Refreshing. Delicious!'
The slices of raw fish had an incredibly satisfying chew to it, which far exceeded Min Sung's expectations. On top of that, the refreshing, subtle bitterness of the vegetables tickled his nose. In that moment, Min Sung couldn't feel more validated about his choice.
Slurping the broth, Min Sung savored the flavors that were dangerously addictive, which came in waves; first, the tartness of the vinegar, followed by sweetness, heat, and savoriness. The red spicy sauce was perfectly balanced in flavor, and there was not a single flavor that was overly dominating. On top of that, as the ice started to melt, it brought the flavor of the broth out even more. At that point, Min Sung started to eat faster. The freshness of the dish was comparable to that of fishermen eating their catch on the boat.
Among the components that made the dish, were the slices of sweet, crunchy pear. Mixed with the subtle bitterness of the vegetables, the abundant slices of pear made the dish even more exciting. Needless to say, it wasn't long before every bit of the ingredients disappeared into the champion's mouth, leaving only the broth in the bowl. Now was the time for the white flour noodles to shine.
Mixing the bowl of noodles into the icy, red broth until the noodles had soaked up the savory broth, Min Sung picked some up with his chopsticks and slurped away like a dragon soaring up to the sky. Not only were they cold, chewy, and refreshing, but the flavors were also deep and complex. The only downside was that the noodles were the finale of the dish.
After slurping away at the last strand of noodle, Min Sung looked down at what was left of the broth in the bowl with lingering attachment. At that moment, noticing that he had eaten all the noodles, one of the waiters asked in a dry, uninterested tone of voice, "Would you like some rice, sir?"
'I have definitely eaten too much, but I think I can handle it,' Min Sung thought as he nodded affirmatively. At which point, the waiter trudged toward the kitchen and brought Min Sung a bowl of rice. After looking at the bowl, Min Sung took a deep breath and removed the aluminum lid, looking at the steamy pile of white rice instead.
'Wait, this is hot!' he thought, confused. The combination of icy-cold broth with a bowl of hot rice was unthought-of. Tilting his head, Min Sung mixed the rice into what was left of the broth without hesitation. Like spring snow melting in warm sunlight, the hot steaming rice melted into the cold, refreshing broth. Taking a spoonful of it, Min Sung brought the combination to his mouth. At that point, he realized why people mixed the two things of contradictory nature together.
Neither hot nor cold, the concoction was at a comfortable temperature.
'So, this is why people mix hot steaming rice into icy cold broth.'
Sweet, sour, yet smooth, the waves of flavor were deeply impressive. After eating every grain of rice and every drop of the broth, Min Sung put the broth down on the table. Then, wiping his mouth with a tissue, he guzzled down on a cup of cold, clean water, washing down all the lingering aftertaste, including the spice.
After dropping Min Sung off at his house, Ho Sung met with Min Wook Cho, who was far more driven and daring.
"It's time to make a choice: Will you join the Diamond Clan, or will you start a war with us?" Min Wook asked the head of the Halls Clan forcefully, who stared at Ho Sung in a daze, drooling. No clan would dare start a war with another clan led by a level-200 hunter.
'Level 200? How can one change so drastically in such a short time?' the head of the Halls Clan thought. Level-200 hunters were granted the ability to use the Aura at their disposal. However, they were unheard of in the world of thugs since any hunters with potential tended to get hired by the Central Institute or its regional sub-branches. Or, they would join a bigger, more respected clans in order to achieve their ambitions.
Yet, Ho Sung Lee was an experienced veteran who had started from the bottom. Now a level 200, he went back to the streets after achieving the unachievable. Again, being an Aura user was a wall far too high for most ordinary hunters. In which case, the head of the Halls clan had no choice but to surrender. Upon confirming his surrender, Min Wook looked toward Ho Sung and smiled brightly. However, Ho Sung, looking ambivalent, scratched his head. Even without Ho Sung's involvement, Min Wook Cho had been active as his right-hand man. Being the quick-witted man that Min Wook was, it wasn't odd that things were moving along as quickly as they were. However, there was a lingering sense of apprehension in Ho Sung's mind. There were some loose ends that needed to be tied up.
"Sir, with the Halls Clan on our side, our clan is expanding to Non-Hyeon and Sinnonhyeon. We've already grown to over thirty members!" Min Wook said with excitement. However, Ho Sung was simply not in a celebratory mood.
"I'm leaving you in charge. I have somewhere to be."
"Where are you going?"
"Nowhere," Ho Sung replied haphazardly, getting into his car and driving off. Looking in the direction Ho Sung had driven off, Min Wook let out a frustrated sigh.
'Getting bored,' Min Sung thought while sprawled across the couch. At that moment, the doorbell rang, and Ho Sung's face appeared on the intercom's screen. As soon as Min Sung opened the door, Ho Sung rushed into the house and said cautiously, "I'm sorry to barge in like this sir, but I have something to tell you."
"What brings you here?" the champion asked, sitting on the couch with his legs crossed. Walking up to him awkwardly, Ho Sung replied, "Well You remember how I used to be the head of the Diamond Clan at one point, right?"
"Uh hm. So I was thinking about putting the clan back together again"
Hearing that, the champion looked toward Ho Sung and snorted, which gave Ho Sung a pressing need to explain himself.
"You see, once I put my clan back together, I was planning on training people and sending them out across the country in search of restaurants worth visiting. That way, I can better serve you"
'Beep!' the TV sounded off as the champion turned it on.
"Do what you want."
"... Wait, do you mean that? Are you really OK with me doing this?"
"Also, from now on, don't come here until I call you. I'll be trying out different restaurants on my own."
Hearing that, after staring at the champion in a daze, Ho Sung took a second before bowing.
"O-of course!" he said.
Meanwhile, while flipping through the channels, a certain channel caught the champion's attention. It was a doc.u.mentary on various dishes around the globe. While it was visually striking, the show was nearing its end by the time Min Sung had changed to that channel.
"Is there a computer?" Min Sung asked.
At which point, Ho Sung pointed in a certain direction and said, "This way, sir. I set up an office for you."
"I see. You may go now."
Waving at Ho Sung for him to leave, Min Sung went into his office.
After Min Sung switched the computer on, the Windows background appeared on the screen in less than a second.
"That was fast," he said, impressed. Pulling up a search engine, he looked up the doc.u.mentary he had just watched on TV. Then, while he was killing time reading up on the show and watching various excerpt clips, a certain playlist to the right of the browser caught his eye.
"Muk-bang BJ?" he said, tilting his head. Upon clicking on it, a short advertis.e.m.e.nt appeared, followed by the BJ, which was short for Broadcasting Jockey. Muk-bang was a form of internet broadcast where a BJ not only tasted the food but also showcased their eating ability to an online audience. Resting his chin on his hand, Min Sung watched the show intently. Whenever the food went into the BJ's mouth, the audience responded with comments such as: 'That looks scrumptious!' or 'You make that look amazing!'
Sitting in front of an enormous amount of food, the BJ made a feast of it. In addition to the host's impressive ability to eat large amounts of food, there was another interesting aspect to the show. Commonly called 'Moon Balloons,' they were a reward system of sorts that allowed the audience to support the BJ of their liking through monetary means, allowing the BJs to make an income off their show. In order to please the audience and earn more balloons, BJs often behaved in bizarre, comedic manner.
Having learned about internet broadcast through that video, Min Sung logged into a website called 'Paprika TV,' which hosted an impressive array of internet broadcast shows of various genres. Looking into the monitor with eyes filled with interest, Min Sung clicked 'Sign On,' in order to create an account on the website.
After some brief contemplation, the champion made up his mind.
"Username: Ho Sung Lee."
After entering all the necessary information, Min Sung clicked 'Done.' After which, a message appeared, saying, 'Welcome to Paprika TV!'
'Does this mean I can start watching videos now?' Min Sung asked himself. The idea of live online broadcasting was fascinating to him. First, he started off by searching for Muk-bangs hosted by the website. Then, one particular show with a jaw-dropping number of views popped out.
[Special Muk-Bang BJ: Hannah Lee. Twelve Bowls of Black Bean Noodles!?]
"Twelve bowls?!" Min Sung let out with an expression of shock on his face, clicking the title of the video right after.