It was a Friday night. A large crowd queued up in front of the ramen shop. For many this was the starting point of an exciting night out.
Takashi took over the business from his father who worked on the restaurant’s success nearly all of his life. Takashi was the only child and his father designed the restaurant to be a small, family-run place that would offer quality ramen at a reasonable price.
The secret of the shop’s popularity was the special recipe for the soup base that had been passed down through the generations. It was a complex blend of chicken, pork, and beef stock that was slowly simmered for hours to bring out the rich flavor. The soup was so good that people would line up for a bowl even on cold winter nights.
The shop only had enough space for a few small tables, so most customers ended up taking their ramen to go. Takashi didn’t mind, as he was happy to see people enjoying his food.
As he handed a take-out bag to a customer, he noticed a tall, well-dressed man standing off to the side, watching him. The man had an intense look on his face, and Takashi couldn’t help but feel uneasy under his gaze.
After a few minutes, the man finally spoke. “I’ve heard a lot about your ramen shop. I’d like to try it.”
Takashi hesitated for a moment. He had a bad feeling about this man, but he didn’t want to turn away business. “All right, let me get you a bowl.”
The man sat down at one of the tables and Takashi handed him a menu. He quickly scanned it and then looked up at Takashi. “I’ll have the special.”
Takashi nodded and went to the kitchen to start preparing the man’s order. He couldn’t shake the feeling that something was off about the man, but he tried to push it out of his mind.
A few minutes later, Takashi brought the man his bowl of ramen and watched as he took a first sip. The man’s eyes widened in surprise and he let out a low whistle. “This is amazing.”
Takashi felt a surge of pride at the man’s reaction. He was always happy to see people enjoying his food.
The man ate quickly, and soon he was finished. He wiped his mouth with a napkin and pushed away from the table. “Now, I came here for something more than just eating a bowl of ramen” the man said ominously.
Takashi’s heart sank as he realized what the man was going to say next.
“I want your recipe.”
Takashi shook his head. “I’m sorry, but that’s a family secret. I can’t give it to you.”
The man’s face hardened. “I’m not asking you. I’m telling you. Give me the recipe or else.”
Takashi’s mind raced as he tried to think of a way out of this situation. He knew he couldn’t give the man the recipe, but he also didn’t want to get hurt.
Suddenly, the man reached into his jacket and pulled out a gun. Takashi’s eyes widened in terror as he stared at the barrel of the weapon.
“I’m not kidding around. Give me the recipe now.” The man’s voice was cold and threatening.
Takashi’s hands trembled as he reached for the recipe book that was hidden behind the counter. Before he gave it to the man he closed his eyes and whispered a few words to himself.
Lights in the ramen shop started to flicker. Suddenly, a scratching sound began to build up. It came from the kitchen.
The man’s eyes darted to the kitchen door and then back to Takashi. “What’s going on?” he demanded.
Takashi smiled. “It’s the spirits of my ancestors. They’re protecting our family’s secrets.”
The man’s face turned pale. He took a step back from the counter. “You’re lying.”
The scratching sound grew louder. As the man tried to tighten his grip on his gun, hundreds of rats came flying out of the kitchen. They swarmed around him, biting and clawing at his exposed skin.
The man screamed in terror as he tried to fight off the rats. He stumbled backwards and tripped over a chair. He hit his head on the ground and lay still.
Takashi waved his hand towards the kitchen and the rats disappeared as quickly as they came. The other guests looked pale as a table cloth. One woman fainted.
“I’m sorry for the disturbance,” Takashi said calmly. “Please enjoy the rest of your meal.”
The man was taken to the hospital, but he never regained consciousness. The police tried to question Takashi, but they could never get a straight story out of him. They eventually gave up and the case went cold.
The ramen shop continued to be a success, and Takashi never had any more problems with people trying to steal his family’s secrets.