Chapter 121 - Investment

However, how could he, Zhou Zixu, take advantage of his friend’s good will? He persevered, “That’s not okay! My Zhenxiu Restaurant has already profited a lot from you, Xiaocao! How could I possibly take your recipe for free? If you refuse to take the money, then Zhenxiu Restaurant will never sell the braised pig head meat or the pig ears!”

Yu Xiaocao was in a very good mood after earning three hundred taels and an extremely valuable jade pendant! She had barely managed to be generous this one time, but the person in question was not grateful at all!! After trying to persuade him, Third Young Master Zhou’s bullheadedness came out in full force, and he adamantly disagreed with her.

The head manager of Zhenxiu Restaurant saw that the two people were stuck in a deadlock. He knew his boss’s personality very well, so he started to persuade Yu Xiaocao, “Miss Yu, don’t feel embarrassed for taking three hundred taels from us. After all, we are businessmen. Using your recipe, Zhenxiu Restaurant can make that money back very soon, and in fact, make even more than three hundred taels in profit. If you don’t take this money, it will actually be our loss…”

Yu Xiaocao saw that Third Young Master Zhou was resolute and had made up his mind. She thought for a bit and then said, “Since you say it like that, then I will give you another recipe! For these two recipes, give me five hundred taels! In the future, I might be able to come up with more recipes that are new. If Zhenxiu Restaurant needs them…”

“We need them, we need them, we absolutely need them!” Third Young Master Zhou impatiently blurted out his thoughts before the head manager could reply. 

Third Young Master Zhou trusted Yu Xiaocao’s cooking talents beyond a doubt. Since she could transform ingredients that other people didn’t touch, such as pig head and offal, into food that people clamored for, it was obvious that she could do the same with other ingredients. If pig head and offal could be transformed into delicious braised food, what could she do with ordinary or even ingredients of the highest quality?

When Zhenxiu Restaurant had just been established, the owners of Fulin Restaurant had colluded with a few smaller restaurants to squeeze them out of business. At the time, all of the established restaurants in Tanggu Town already had their regular customers. As for Zhenxiu Restaurant, it could be said that they were just trying to survive on the edges of the restaurant world. 

Also, the Zhou Family had also made this restaurant’s success into a trial for Third Young Master Zhou. When Zhenxiu Restaurant was being suppressed by their competitors, the family didn’t get involved at all. This made the owners of Fulin Restaurant even more rampant and brazen! It wasn’t hard to imagine the difficulties that they had encountered.

Things turned around when Yu Xiaocao appeared. That was when they were able to push out a new dish: oyster sauce vegetables. That alone was enough for Zhenxiu Restaurant to reveal its talents among all of the other, older restaurants. In addition, it helped them to attract some of the other restaurant’s regular customers——and now they were the regulars of Zhenxiu Restaurant. With that, Zhenxiu Restaurant was able to set down its roots in Tanggu Town and was now striving to become one of the best restaurants. 

Third Young Master Zhou firmly believed that with Yu Xiaocao’s braised food recipe and her other, unknown recipe, Zhenxiu Restaurant would be able to become the best restaurant in all of Tanggu Town. The one that no other restaurant could surpass. In the future, who needed to care about Fulin Restaurant or the others. None of them would be able to compete with Zhenxiu Restaurant.

In addition, Zhou Zixu’s ambitions went far beyond than the three plots of land that Tanggu Town stood in. In his heart, there were a lot more places he needed to conquer. They had already started building a Zhenxiu Restaurant in the capital. If they wanted to become an established, famous restaurant in the capital, then it wasn’t enough to rely on the oyster sauce vegetables alone. However, now that they had the two new recipes from Yu Xiaocao, he figured that they may have a better chance now. Therefore, he had to have a good relationship with this gifted chef, Yu Xiaocao, who had the talents that he could only seek but never get. 

“Don’t get too excited!! Calm down, calm down!!” Yu Xiaocao looked at him with a bright smile on her face, which made Zhou Zixu feel like he was acting like a silly little boy. Furthermore, it gave him the feeling that the person in front of him wasn’t merely a nine year old little girl!

Yu Xiaocao stood on her tiptoes and patted his shoulder, “Don’t worry! With such a good relationship between the two of us, how could I not think of you when I come up with new recipes in the future? Quickly get some paper and a brush. After you finish writing down the recipe, I still have other things to do!”

After Third Young Master Zhou finished preparing his brush and paper, Yu Xiaocao dictated out the ingredients and methods to make ‘Fuliji Roast Chicken’. Zhou Zixu made sure to write every detail down and was concentrated at his task at hand.

Afterwards, Yu Xiaocao grinned, “This chicken will have a shiny outer skin, tender white meat, exquisite flavor, rich aroma, meat falling off the bones, and will taste rich without being greasy. If one chews on the bone, it’ll have a delectable flavor. In addition, if you try to lift a leg off the cooked chicken when hot, all of the meat will fall off. In terms of pairing it with other food, both cold or hot dishes will complement it well.”

“After hearing you introduce this dish, I can feel saliva pooling in my mouth!” Zhou Zixu smacked his lips and then a flabbergasted expression surfaced on his face. “Xiaocao, I didn’t expect that you would be able to speak so eloquently about food!”

“Hee hee!” Yu Xiaocao dryly laughed and then said, “I’m just spitting out what I’ve memorized before, that’s all! I won’t hide it from you anymore. I accidentally came across a fragment of a cookbook, and I learned a couple of recipes from it!”

“Ah you! You talk a lot, but it’s hard to tell what’s true and what’s false! It doesn’t matter where you learned these recipes from, I only hope that Zhenxiu Restaurant will be your only business partner from now and in the future!” Zhou Zixu had a winsome smile on his face, and it was obvious this thirteen to fourteen year old youth had the potential to grow into a devastatingly handsome fellow in the future.

“Wrong!” Yu Xiaocao smiled craftily, “What you should say is that you, Third Young Master Zhou, will only be my business partner, and no one else!!”

“Okay!! I, Zhou Zixu, promise you that!!” Zhou Zixu solemnly vowed. 

Yu Xiaocao burst out laughing, “The way you’re talking makes it sound like you’re trying to elope with someone…”

“Cao’er!!” Yu Hai felt helpless in front of his youngest daughter. Was this something a little girl should be saying? When they got home, he really needed to have her mother teach her some manners!!

“Alright, we can end our talk now! There’s still someone outside waiting for us!” Yu Xiaocao knew that she had inadvertently said something inappropriate, so she stuck out her tongue, “If you have any troubles trying to make the braised food or roast chicken, feel free to find me! I guarantee that whoever I teach will be able to make it!!”

“Okay!” Zhou Zixu nodded his head furiously.

“Oh right, Third Young Master Zhou! You have a wide net of connections, can you keep in mind that I’m looking for some nice, fertile land around Tanggu Town? If there’s anyone who’s selling any, let me know? Right now we don’t lack money, so as long as the price is fair, and the total cost is less than eight hundred taels, we can definitely consider it!”

Since her father couldn’t go into the mountains and also didn’t have a boat to go out to sea, then they needed to buy a little more farmland. Even if her own family didn’t use it for planting, they could still rent it to other people and get a decent income. 

Zhou Zixu muttered to himself for a bit and then said, “Do you think your family can handle having that much land after you buy it?” 

The land around Tanggu Town was of high quality with fertile soil. Usually a plot of land in this area would sell for eight to nine taels apiece. Winter was especially harsh this year and right now spring was still far away. Thus, it wasn’t surprising that there were a lot of people willing to sell some land at prices below the usual. With eight hundred taels, they could likely buy more than a hundred plots of the best land available. From his understanding, out of all the people in Yu Xiaocao’s family, the only adult male in his prime was Yu Hai, but even he had an injury to his leg. Why did she think her family would be able to use all of this land?

“If my family can’t handle it, then we’ll just rent it out! We can hire some tenant farmers to till the land, it should work, ah!!” When she thought that her family would soon become landowners, Xiaocao felt ecstatic inside. 

However, Zhou Zixu lightly shook his head and replied in disapproval, “Buying land to rent it out, how long would it take for you to make back your capital?! Take my advice, it’s not as good as buying a shop stall. Whether you decide to use it for your own business or to rent it out to someone else, it will give you a better return on your investment than buying farmland!”

“Buy a store? But who in Tanggu Town would sell the stalls that are in a good location? If the location isn’t good, then we can’t charge a good rent…” Yu Xiaocao had also thought of buying a shop stall but all of the good locations couldn’t just be bought with money alone. 

Zhou Zixu drawled, “Who told you to buy a shop stall in Tanggu Town? I have some definite information that the government plans on doing a big construction project at the docks to make them into the largest harbor in the north. Rumors say that because they’re having trouble gathering enough funds that they will be selling some shop stalls in advance. Thus, it is likely that those empty stores will rise in value over time. You don’t need me to say any more for you to understand…”

Yu Xiaocao’s eyes immediately lit up when she heard what Zhou Zixu said. The government wanted to develop the docks? This was a once in a lifetime chance bestowed by the heavens! The shop stalls sold in advance would definitely not be too expensive.

After the harbor construction was finished, then those empty shop stalls would definitely skyrocket in value. What was the best way to make money in the 20th century? Speculating in real estate, ah!! If she could grab onto this chance, then one shop stall could definitely be resold for more than twice the buying price!!

“Okay! Then we’ll buy store stalls…”

Yu Xiaocao was just about to close the deal when she was interrupted by her father, “Cao’er! How about we go home and discuss this with your mother first?”

“Oh, that was my fault, I got too excited and forgot to ask for your opinion, Father! Father, do you prefer to buy farmland or the stalls?” Yu Xiaocao suddenly realized that the true head of her family was right next to her. She had truly gotten too carried away to even neglect her own father’s opinion.

Yu Hai stayed silent for a moment before he replied, “Cao’er, technically since you were the one who earned these eight hundred taels you should be the one making all of the decisions. However, you’re still quite young, so as your father I just want to remind you a bit——this thing with the docks, do you think it’s reliable? After all, this isn’t a small sum of money, what if…”

“It makes sense that you have a few misgivings, Uncle Yu! However, I’m best friends with County Magistrate Wu’s son. County Magistrate Wu naturally has to help the imperial envoy from the capital to handle the construction of the harbor. The official documents have already gone to the magistrate’s office. Thus, you should relax. I absolutely wouldn’t let you guys invest your money into something that would fail!” Zhou Zixu clearly had a lot of confidence in this idea and had thought things out thoroughly. 

Yu Xiaocao tried to persuade her father, “Father, I think buying stalls at the docks is a good idea! With the largest harbor in the north here, in the future there will definitely be way more people around than Tanggu Town has now. We absolutely will not lose money buying these stores! Right now, we’re at the mercy of the weather when selling braised food, so it’s quite tiring. If we had a store, then we could make our braised food business even larger. Who knows, maybe in a few years our braised food store could even become more famous than Third Young Master Zhou’s Zhenxiu Restaurant!!”

“Uncle Yu, Xiaocao is right! Even if you don’t use them to create a braised food store, with how large the new harbor will be, you can definitely earn at least three to five hundred taels profit from flipping the store. With that money, you can definitely buy as much farmland as you want. Do you think that’s worth it?” In terms of grasping business opportunities, Zhou Zixu was definitely one of the best around

When he heard the opinions of the two, Yu Hai also felt his heart skip a beat. He squeezed his hand into a fist and clenched his teeth before he made a decision, “Okay! Let’s use all of the eight hundred taels to buy shop stalls!! Cao’er, you need to prepare yourself mentally just in case all of this goes south. If it does, you’re not allowed to cry!!”

Yu Xiaocao rolled her eyes and remarked, “If it goes south, then it goes south! When you do business, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose! This is nothing new! Then again, even if our luck is that bad, it’ll just be as if we didn’t make any money today, nothing else is lost!”

Zhou Zixu didn’t expect the father and daughter pair to be so adaptable with money, especially since they had both grown up in impoverished conditions. His impression of the Yu Family improved another notch, and he gently chuckled, “I definitely dare to vouch for this business venture! You absolutely will not lose! If you actually do lose out on this, then it’s all on me, okay!”

“No, we can’t take you up on that offer!” Yu Hai waved his hand repeatedly in refusal. 

“Ahhh, Father! It’s getting late now, let’s go back and pick some vegetables for the steward of the Yao Family. Let’s hurry, we don’t want him to think that we are going back on our promise!” Yu Xiaocao finally recalled that the Yao Family’s steward was likely waiting at the backdoor of the restaurant. Almost four hours had passed for this little detour of theirs. If they didn’t leave now, they would be losing this opportunity!

Previous Chapter Next Chapter

Myst's Thoughts

Fuliji Roast Chicken

Sanguine’s Thoughts: Anyone else see a mountain of money in Xiaocao’s future? Shiny, shiny, shiny! Xiaocao, ah, don’t forget about your translator sister when you’re rich...

Translator: Sanguine