Okonomiyaki Chain Store – 35 – Miso & Soy Sauce Factory  

Part 8: Osaka’s Auntie Educates the Dragon About Miso

Chapter 35: Miso & Soy Sauce Factory

 

Translated by Zzonkedd

Edited by Gumihou

 

Haruna brought the plate of Miso Cutlet before the Dragon Boss.

Saa, it’s done! Go ahead and try it, ya!”

However, since it was hard for a dragon to pick up a plate, let alone a fork, she placed the cutlets directly into his mouth for him. One slice would be too little, so she put three slices of miso sauce covered cutlets on the huge tongue.

Because the cutlets were really tiny compared to the Dragon Boss’ maw, there was no chewing involved at all, the dragon ended up rolling the Miso Cutlets against the roof of his mouth. Kind of like how wine connoisseurs taste wine.

Eventually, the Dragon stopped chewing. He remained silent, giving away no indication as to what he was feeling.

 “Was it… a failure?” Natalia was becoming rather uneasy as she watched for the Dragon’s reaction.

Like a virus, the sense of anxiety began to spread among the audience, and just when it was getting rather unbearable… tears flowed down from the dragon’s eyes.

“Aa, this is it, this is it… Somehow, even though it’s the first time I taste it, it felt nostalgic… more, give me more, please…”

Haruna placed another piece of cutlet into his mouth. Once again, the dragon rolled the meat in his mouth and more tears flowed from his eyes.

“I remember now. Great Me used to be a child from an area close to the Iwakura station [1] on the Meitetsu line. I attended a nearby high school and died from a road accident on the way home. Before I died, I had been a great baseball fan and the Goddess told me that because of this, I would reincarnate as a dragon…”

“You seemed to remember quite a bit.”

“Yes. Rather than a gentle or delicate taste that spread out slowly, we sports people prefer a flavour that’s impactful enough to punch our taste buds. This strong, mature taste blows away both exhaustion and other bad feelings. A most intoxicating flavour indeed…”

For some reason, some of the spectators were also crying in sympathy with the dragon. After all, the desire for a mother’s home-cooked food was something universal. 

The rest of the miso katsu was given to the Dragon, of course.

However, the finely shredded cabbage was left on the plate because Dragon ‘I don’t like cabbage that much’ Boss refused to eat it.

Natalia, who had gone through the trouble of choosing and buying the perfect cabbage, was quite frustrated.

“Thank you, little fellows. Thanks to you, I finally understand what miso is. More than that, I finally understand why I desire it so much.”

“Because of this, I shall not cause any more trouble for the villagers.”

Their original mission objective had been to curb the damage caused by the enraged dragons, so this is as good an ending as any.

“It’s good that you understand. As for your atonement, there shall be no tribute made to the dragons for the next three years. I hope you will understand. I shall inform the villagers of the Bazhe Mountain Ranges as well.” Haruna said. Then she added, “By the way, I’d like to make a personal request.”

“Please ask away, if it is a request that this dragon could fulfil, it shall be done.” Said the Dragon Boss generously.

“If I pay a fixed rate, can I borrow a dragon as a taxi?” Haruna leaned forward with her hands pressed together in front of her in a beseeching manner. “Of course, I’ll take them on as a Full-timer instead of a Temp worker [2], na. So, please?”

“What do you mean by a Full-timer…?”

It was clear that these two were having a rather confusing conversation with each other. It took Natalia some time to understand the matter herself before she could convey the meaning to the dragon.

“In short, you want a brethren of mine to play the role of a horse for you? Little fellows, that is quite an impudent request, but I shall allow it.”

“Wait, is this an OK? You’re really fine with it, wa?” Haruna was getting rather excited by this.

“Great Me has lost in more ways than one and losers have no right to complain. A dragon understands and respects strength. Great Me shall arrange for a dragon to come to this town.”

“Thank you very much, na. Horses are so tiresomely slow. It’s too bad there are no bullet trains in this world, na.”

Finally, the Dragon Boss went back home with a satisfied expression on his face. 

From then on, Haruna was given the title of ‘The Woman who Made Dragons Cry’.

While she really did cause a dragon to cry, Natalia thought the title was just a little bit misleading…

Perhaps it’s because the Dragon Boss himself admitted it in front of so many witnesses, the townsfolk of Old Saxon, the Adventurers and the merchants gathered around to spectate, Haruna was officially recognised as the Adventurer who had solved the ‘Dragon Issue’ and was awarded 2,000 gold coins. Which was equivalent to 100 million yen. That said, since Haruna was already a very rich entrepreneur, this amount might as well be pocket change to her.

Besides, there was something else she wanted more than money.

“I’d like the permission to open up branches of [Haru-chan] in cities other than the Royal Capital.”

Of course, that permission was swiftly given by leaders of other countries. In a short time, the [Haru-chan Group] reached its 120th store, selling its signature goods such as Okonomiyaki, Ball-yaki, and Udon Noodles.

 

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“Oohh! I’ve never had a soup like this before!”

“I feel like I’m warmed from the core of my body!”

“This will surely put the hearts and wings of those who are locked up in the tower at ease…”

These were the first impressions of [Haru-chan’s] trial miso soup from their regular customers. Naturally, it was held at the main branch on the 13th floor of the Old Saxon dungeon.

Natalia was currently preoccupied with the last remark from their loyal customers. Aren’t these warrior guys with their armour and helmets rather romantic with their words? Could the remark about hearts and wings be some sort of obscure metaphor?

Though there was still some resistance to miso when it was first introduced back in Chapter 18, it was unexpectedly popular when made into soup. Of course, since bean soups already existed in this world, Haruna thought it would not be a problem to introduce what was essentially a fermented bean soup.

“It is made especially for Adventurers, na. So, it’s great that they like it, na.” Haruna was very pleased with the response.

“Is this going to be a standard product?” Natalia, who was in charge of stocking ingredients, wanted to know. By the way, her Okonomiyaki skills had grown quite skilful.

“No, it’s not possible. I don’t have enough miso for that.”

Since the miso was homemade, it was enough for personal use only. If they use it to make products for sale, it would vanish in no time flat.

“Ah, but fermented foods are good for your health, it would be great if I can spread them to the public. In fact, for malnourished people, it’s like a medicine that promotes good health, na.”

“So, why not build a miso factory?” Natalia asked simply.

Haruna crossed her arms and made a constipated face, “U~un.” She muttered, “To tell you the truth, miso is a very fickle thing. You can’t make it in just any building. A building that’s not suitable for fermentation would kill the miso. Also, a lot depended on the person in charge. The slightest error in humidity, timing, and temperature control could potentially ruin everything…”

Unlike other wheat-based fermented products, the making of miso depends a lot on a very specific type of bacteria which may not exist in this world. Once Haruna’s current crop of miso disappears, miso would disappear from this world. Because of this, Haruna will always make sure to keep a small amount of the miso hidden away as insurance.

“There are no suitable warehouses for miso making in Old Saxon… also, if the workshop is too far away, I won’t be able to look after it.”

For now, Haruna’s biggest concern was the lack of miso and soy sauce or tamari sauce which was a by-product of miso that was 90% similar to soy sauce. If she has plenty of these two products, the number of dishes she could create would increase by a lot.

“Unlike Okonomiyaki, these aren’t something that could be easily produced just from knowledge alone, wa.”

“So, you basically have to make something that’s essentially an ingredient from scratch, huh. That’s tough, I guess.”

It would be nice if people from far and wide knew about the importance of miso and soy sauce.

“There are lots of people at the Royal Capital, do you think someone there might know how to make miso?”

“How is that possible, you idiot? If this happens to be Paris or New York in the 21st century you might still be able to find some weird Japanophile [1] who could make miso, but this is the Royal Capital of a different world—there is no way anyone would know, na.”

Haruna smacked Natalia’s back vigorously.

Pon pon

Suddenly, her strikes became even more vigorous.

Ponponponpon

“Great idea! This might actually work out! Excellent, excellent! There is someone from the Royal Capital I can actually count on, wa!” 

“Stop that! Don’t hit me even harder when you’re happy! I get it, it’s great that you’re happy but keep your hands to yourself.”

“Sorry, sorry. Alright, let’s get to the surface first and then we’ll head over to the Royal Capital. Let’s hurry, ya!”

 

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Soon, Haruna and Natalia were winging away towards the Royal Capital von Tidal. By the way, they were given a Small Dragon by the Dragon Boss to act as their taxi full time. They managed to reach the Royal Capital which had taken them a few days to reach via horseback within a day via dragon.

Natalia, of course, went with her boss as the vice-president of the company.

“By the way, speaking of the Royal Capital… Are we…seeking that person after all?”

“We are indeed! We’re going to Karen’s place!”

From her tone of voice, it would appear that Natalia was not very fond of Karen due to her impression that all members of the aristocracy were incredibly rude and snobby.

When they finally arrived at the expansive mansion, Karen looked very happy to welcome them.

“How glad I am that you took the trouble to come all this way, waa. How may I be of assistance to you this time?” Somehow, Karen’s voice sounded very sweet and beguiling, like a spoilt child about to ask for a favour.

“Well, I’d like to know if you have any warehouse around here that you’re not using around the Capital.”

“What? Are you seriously here to talk work?” Karen’s bottom lip pursed out, but she quickly recovered her poise and introduced them to some vacant warehouses. The great aristocrats were often connected with multiple commerce and industry unions. Therefore, a tour of empty warehouses was easily arranged.

One of them stood out to Haruna so she proceeded to check the inside.

Un, good, good, wa! Not only does it keep out the sunlight, but the temperature inside is also very stable.”

 “What are you planning to do with such an old warehouse?”

“I’m going to increase the production of miso. Once we can mass-produce miso, Karen can also use it in your cooking, wa. Look, we can also make soy sauce in this warehouse for your yudofu.”

“Aah, soy sauce too! If that’s the case, let’s get started right away. Well? Let’s get to it!”

As expected, the reincarnated Karen who also hailed from Japan was very interested in fermented food. Such enthusiasm and stickler for detail was crucial when it came to the management of the warehouse until it’s fully on track. Otherwise, all of their stocks would go to waste. After all, there was no anti-mould chemical in this world, so extra care was needed to ensure that the place was perfectly clean and dry to prevent the formation of mould.

“Excellent! I shall entrust the care of this warehouse to Karen. You’re the only one who could do it, ya.”

“Haruna-han, you, you really trust me that much, ya…” Karen’s cheeks were cherry blossom pink with happiness.

“That’s right, ya. You must be tired from all that travelling today. How about staying over at my place?” Karen clasped Haruna’s hands in hers and looked deeply into her eyes. “The last time you were here, I didn’t get to ask you about the recipe for ramen and gyoza. It would really trouble me if you go back before teaching my cooks, wa.”

As a matter of fact, for a noble-born daughter like Karen, whose status kept her far away from women who did battle as knights and Adventurers, Haruna was someone she greatly looked up to as a person.

Natalia stared with a disgusted face at the two-person world these two ladies seemed to be stuck in.

“I understand, I understand, wa… after all we need to make more plans for the miso warehouse…”

Since Haruna was the one who came asking for a favour, she was in no position to decline the invitation. This situation frustrated Natalia so much that her hand tightened on her magic staff and her tail began to swish back and forth violently.

“Miss Karen, the president is tired from today’s business. So, do keep it short please.”

“Excuse me, but I don’t recall speaking to you, wa.” said Karen primly. Natalia’s face also began to grow red, but the reason behind the blush was completely different.

“Wait a minute, that’s very rude of you!”

“I have some matters I wish to discuss with President Haruna, wa. Don’t you know that a good attendant is only remarkable when they are unnoticeable!?”

Meanwhile, Haruna was wondering why the two girls were suddenly quarrelling with each other.

“What’s wrong with you two? Even the drunkards of Osaka aren’t as hot-blooded as you…”

 

Somehow, even under such an uneasy atmosphere, plans to mass-produce miso and soy sauce still managed to take place. However, fermented products could not be rushed. And though work like the collection of ingredients, renovations and other logistics could be done as quickly as dragon transport and money could make, they still have to let the bacteria work their magic.

Nevertheless, things seemed to be going on smoothly. It would not be long before their miso and soy sauce factory could meet Haruna and Karen’s demands.

 

[Gumihou: Woah, that sounds quite troublesome]

 

[1] Iwakura Station – One of the major stations in Aichi Prefecture

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iwakura_Station_(Aichi)#:~:text=Iwakura%20Station%20is%20served%20by,of%20the%20line%20at%20Biwajima.

[2] In Japan, there are two classes of workers Haken vs Seisya, Temporary vs Full Time

https://www.pri.org/stories/2010-05-18/temp-nation-demise-lifetime-employment-japan

In the past, as a full-time worker could expect to work with a single company for life, and the corporation was just like a big family who looked after their workers. Some full-time company even organise wedding matches etc.

Temp workers or temporary workers have fewer benefits, are paid less and are the first to be laid off when times are hard. It’s actually kind of sad. 

When Haruna offered to take on the dragon as a full-timer, she basically promised to look after the dragon as a family and to give them maximum benefits as far as she could.

 

[1] Japanophile – Non-Japanese being crazy about certain cultural bits of Japan

 

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