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Hidden Universe

The Nameless Restaurant (Hidden Dishes #1)

The Nameless Restaurant (Hidden Dishes #1)

Written by: Tao Wong
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Read an Excerpt of The Nameless Restaurant (Hidden Dishes #1)

<h1>Chapter 1</h1>
<p>Midday light streamed in from the half-submerged windows facing the alleyway, adding to the soft illumination of incandescent light bulbs hanging from yellow chandeliers. The occasional metal pillar supporting the ceiling and the floor broke up the open floor plan of the restaurant, old wooden tables and threadbare, barely upholstered chairs. A dozen tables all told, some set against faded walls of grey concrete, the walls featuring a series of old black-and-white pictures of cities of a bygone age.</p>

<p>From the kitchen to the left of the entrance door, down from the staircase that took a right turn immediately upon entrance, the sound of someone chopping vegetables rang out rhythmically. White fluorescent light, harsh compared to the softer yellow of the dining room, shone from within, casting a long shadow of the cook. A bar with a half-dozen bar stools was set in front of the kitchen, a large open window showcasing the workings of the kitchen.</p>

<p>The smell of fresh-cut vegetables, boiling pots of stock, and a light floral scent of cleaning agent surrounded the man whose fingers danced across the chopping board, his knife wielded with practiced efficiency. Onions, garlic, celery, tomatoes, lettuce—all was chopped and prepped and set aside in rectangular metal containers for later use.</p>

<p>The peaceful scene was interrupted by the sudden thud of a body against the entrance doorway. A muffled grunt and yelp, as the door failed to give way or the knob to turn.</p>

<p>“Damn physical bodies.” The feminine voice was loud and affronted as the doorknob rattled again. “Let me just…” A slight pause, a buzz, and a yelp. “Aaargh! Who wards their damn door with a sixteenth level Archmage spell of forbiddance?”</p>

<p>A couple more thuds, as though someone was kicking the solid wooden door. The knife stopped moving, the cook’s head rose as the knife was set gently against the chopping board. Full lips thinned for a moment, a hand reaching up to snatch the chef’s cap off the head. The cook stalked out of the kitchen to the door, making a tiny gesture with his hand as he did so.</p>

<p>Lights grew brighter; a series of quiet clicks and humming rose up before ending. Another kick, the doorknob turned and the figure on the other side tumbled through the open doorway to stumble into the staircase railing.</p>

<p>The woman that tumbled in was raven-haired, with a prominent, aquiline nose and tanned skin. Her dark eyes flashed as she straightened up, rubbing the side of her ribs where she had knocked them. Behind her came a young Chinese man, looking somewhat amused at the woman’s antics.</p>

<p>“Lily, the sign says ‘closed’,” the man said, exasperated. “You can’t just go breaking in. If you’re hungry, we could grab something down the street.”</p>

<p>“No!” A pause, as the aforementioned Lily looked around and spotted the cook. She pointed an accusatory finger at him. “Ah hah! I found you, Mo Meng! Do you know how hard it was to find you?”</p>

<p>“Very.”</p>

<p>“Exactly! This, this entire place is ridiculous.” Lily spun around, gesturing about her. As she spun, light streamed from her hands, glowing sigils, characters and words appearing all across the wall. She pointed as she spoke. “There. Assyrian Numerology. Incan Blood Chant. Oh, they above. Is that a Malayalam Tribal Oration combined with a Japanese Poem Song?”</p>

<p>Now the young man was silent, his eyes greedily drinking in the glowing lights. On the other hand, Mo Meng looked less than impressed, moving his fingers a little again. The door behind the young man closed, blocking off the glowing sigils from the public outside.</p>

<p>“Exactly how much trouble did you get into?” Lily said. “Did you really need all this?”</p>

<p>“Obviously not,” Mo Meng replied. “I needed more, if you found me.”</p>

<p>Lily paused, staring at the tiny middle-aged Asian man, and then snapped her fingers. The glowing sigils, words and characters disappeared, leaving the room suddenly darker than ever.</p>

<p>“Whatever.” She walked over to the counter, dragged out a bar stool and plopped her butt on it. “Feed me.” Turning around, she beckoned to her companion. “Come down, Henry. I already turned off all the fatal wards.”</p>

<p>Henry stared at the woman. His jaw worked for a few moments, and he looked between her and Mo Meng before he chose to come over and take a seat beside her. “You… you dragged me across the globe. Thrice. Through a raging viral magical pandemic, risking life and limb. All in search of this amazing, powerful archmage to ask him… to ask him to….”</p>

<p>“To cook for me!” Lily nodded. “Of course! Do you know how long I’ve dreamed of his food?”</p>

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Product Details

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Genre: Cozy Fantasy

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Language: English

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About The Nameless Restaurant (Hidden Dishes #1)

There is a restaurant in Toronto.

Its entrance is announced only by a simple, unadorned wooden door, varnished to a beautiful shine but without paint, hidden beside dumpsters and a fire escape. There is no sign, no indication of what lies behind the door.

If you do manage to find the restaurant, the décor is dated and worn. Homey, if one were to be generous.

The service is atrocious, the proprietor a grouch. The regulars are worse: silent, brooding, and unfriendly to newcomers. There is no set menu, alternating with the whim and whimsy of the owner. The selection of wine and beer is sparse or non-existent at times, and the prices for everything outrageous.

There is a restaurant in Toronto that is magically hidden, whose service is horrible, but whose food is divine.

This is the story of the Nameless Restaurant.

Paperback signed by Tao Wong.

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