Arash took a deep breath as he walked into a posh three Michelin starred Japanese restaurant with a heavy heart. It was around dinner time, and he disliked being here at the moment. His kids were still at the nursery, waiting for him. At this moment, he was supposed to fetch them and tapau(1) something nice to make them happy.
Nonetheless, he was helpless to refuse an invitation from the higher-ups. It would be extremely rude, especially when they already arranged everything for him. Thank goodness, Madam Lisa was reliable; she easily acquiesced with the ad-hoc request yet again. He felt sorry for the gentle lady who always had to do extra work for him.
A few tables away, Arash saw Mr. Alan raised his hand slightly, as a host ushered him to the same spot after checking a list on his tablet. Mr. Alan had started having his dinner. His table was full of cute delectable Japanese fusion inspired dishes. He was enjoying a piece of translucent pink sashimi (2) from a whole fish.
Arash was quite surprised as he paused his steps for a second. No one else was around. Only Mr. Alan. He thought that it was the company's upper management's congratulatory dinner for him. That was why he forced himself to come.
"Would you be kind enough to tell me who is this gentleman? He frequented our restaurant at least once or twice a week." Seeing that Arash paused his steps with a bewildering look, the restaurant's host whispered lightly towards him.
"My boss. Sort of." Arash replied after blinking his eyes a few times. He wasn't lying. Mr. Alan was his boss, although not directly. There was still a powerful lady boss above him.
Really, the world of the rich was so different. He heard that to make a reservation to dine here took weeks. And here, his own second level boss dined here like he dined in a cafeteria. He lamented on the fact that their pay grade must be extremely wide apart.
A faint calming background music could be heard as Arash seated himself directly in front of his new boss after giving him a firm handshake. He wasn't sure what to do now and felt awkward. This situation was really not like how he imagined.
Is this considered a date? O_____O;;;
Just thinking that made goosebumps appeared on his skin. Honestly, he had heard weird rumors in the company. This new VP was ice-cold towards the ladies, even to the single and available ones. It was a dangerous, dangerous world nowadays.
God, please spare me. What kind of payment does he need..
Arash felt like crying.
Ayang, help your poor hubs here. My boss is trying to flirt with me. TT______TT
If only Hana was around. She was the feisty one and will definitely attack his boss with a fork if she knew he was flirting with her husband, regardless it was from the same or the opposite sex. His wife was a tad bit too possessive, and he was the same towards her too. So he had no qualms with his wife's behavior. In fact, he found that it was quite cute and endearing.
Now, how should he excuse himself from this... dinner date?
Alan was amusing himself with the man's changes of expression on his face. The man was only wearing the company's dark blue collared T-shirt with black jeans today. Most probably since it was the last day before the weekend(3). His black horn-rimmed spectacles made him look like a classic nerd with a fair complexion. Looking at his demeanor, he must've come straight from the office. What dedication. Alan appreciated the man's efforts and was quite satisfied with the olive branch that he extended. It was one of the best strategic moves he made for the company this quarter.
He was sure that this ad-hoc dinner might have made this guy nervous. What was brewing in his mind, he wasn't sure, but it must be quite colorful to the least since the guy's expression already changes eight times in front of him.
"How's work today?" Alan started the conversation, ending the awkward silence between them.
Arash blanked for a short while before replying politely, "The clients were satisfied with the finalized paperwork after five revisions. Implementation has started the day before yesterday. Resources are in place. Our engineers, machinists, technicians, and operators are in place. I've submitted a report to the General Manager for this and carbon copied it to you..." Arash looked at his smartwatch, "An hour and a half ago?" He added.
"I know, I've reviewed it just now. Let's not talk into the details about work. How is the working environment at the moment?"
"Ohh. That. Not so bad."
Mr. Alan raised his left eyebrow as he placed his chopstick down. "Care to elaborate?"
"Could I be truthful? Off the record?"
"Go ahead." Alan grinned amusingly.
"I think placing me at the corner of the department is quite irrelevant. My cube is still empty, with no replacement, but the spot I'm in was spacious enough to be made into a resting room for the team. Some might think making a resting room will encourage the personnel to misuse it and sloth around. But, in my opinion, a good power-nap could make people energetic if they truly need it. It is better than them becoming zombies and makes mistakes in their work." Arash shrugged as he talked plainly to the suave young man in front of him. Even though it was late evening, the guy still looked so prim and proper, as if he just had his bath. Arash wondered what was the real purpose of the ad-hoc dinner tonight. But since, his boss asked with a serious attitude, he would gladly explain truthfully. He had done it before, and it seemed that this young boss was a very open-minded person as he could accept suggestions from people below him. Arash too, had diminished his prior misconception about the boss and had instead formed a very positive view of him. Only, tonight's sudden 'dinner date' really could make people misunderstood!
"Well, we could limit the use of the room to say, twenty minutes? And maybe, for the ones who prefer coffee, providing excellent drip coffee will be good. If the personnel are happy, production usually increased. Theoretically lah."
"I see. Thank you for your feedback." Mr. Alan nodded as he contemplated the suggestion. "Anyway, how about other staff? Did they treat you well?"
"They did. All of us are long time acquaintances after all." Arash smiled.
It truly sounded like an interrogation. Maybe, his young boss was trying to get insiders’ info from the staff side?
Hence, after realizing it, Arash made up his mind to guard his tongue. It would be bad if he accidentally badmouthed someone.
Alan waited for Arash to elaborate, but, he saw that doubt and suspicion had clouded the man's eyes after the repeated inquiries. He finally decided to stop himself in a timely manner when a waiter came over with a menu in his hand.
Arash took the menu and flipped it through before sighing.
What a waste of money. He could buy nutritious food for the kids more than ten times with the same amount of price for the five-course sets. Even the standard single meal sets and ala carte were pricey. He eyed Mr. Alan's combination to see which one he got and rolled his eyes when he saw that they were some of the most expensive ones. He was the kind who was very cincai on himself, but will buy the best for his wife and kids.
"Just give me a bowl of edamame(4) and plain water."
Both the waiter and Mr. Alan were speechless.
"Are you sure?" Mr. Alan queried.
Arash nodded calmly, ignoring their stares. He didn't care about his image nor did he need to impress anyone. Although he had the money, he was planning to spend it to buy lots of excellent-quality rice as compensation for Tok Silihan. He had to visit the old man a week later and he didn't plan to renege on his promise.
"I am paying, you know." Mr. Alan grinned amusingly. Arash could see that he has been labelled as a miser by his boss.
"Really? Okay. Please add two kids' set besides the edamame. This one, with the little heart-shaped prawns. Add on this California rolls. They’re so colorful, the girls would love them. All these for takeaways, please. Oh, such a cute chawaimushi(5). This look so tasteful, oh, but it’s okay, no need to add, hard to carry this without destroying its beauty." Arash talked swiftly with the waiter while giving him a serene kindly smile. He turned to look at his boss who made an incredulous look. "As compensation to make my kids happy. I will meet them late because of this dinner."
"Alright, go ahead." Mr. Alan recovered and chuckled. That was quite surprising. It turned out although this Arash was a workaholic, he was a family man.
The waiter took the order and walked away with an amused expression plastered on his face.
"Now, Mr. Alan. I would like to be frank with you. What's the catch?" Arash asked seriously.
1) tapau = takeaway (just a reminder, some of you might forget)
2) sashimi = extremely fresh raw fish, served with a sauce, usually in Japanese restaurant
3) Most probably since it was the last day before the weekend = in Malaysia, on Fridays usually people wear casual smart clothings, no need to adhere to the standard shirt, tie and long pants. In government agencies, Fridays is when everyone either wear a collared T-shirt or a custom-made long-sleeve batik shirt.
Batik shirt looks like this -->
4) edamame = young soy beans (still green), plucked and steamed, also a Japanese healthy snack.
5) chawaimushi = savory steamed egg custard
Although Mrs Mooncat doubt that you guys don’t know the list of Japanese food written here, Mrs Mooncat still put them in for reference. Just in case. A note here, the only three Michellin-starred restaurant that Mrs Mooncat knew is a Japanese restaurant known as Nobu in KL. However, the explanation of food here did not reflect the menu of Nobu. You can google it to see what they served and maybe visit it one day in the future (wink!)