2020-05-01 - Hard Khor Cuisine


Peter seeks out Luke's, following up on an invitation from Hod, and finds surprises on the menu.

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Fri May 1 00:00:00 2020
Location: Luke's

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Theme Song



The air of the bar is filled with the scents of something that decidedly does not belong in a black bar in the heart of Harlem. The entire place is full of the sound of sizzling meat and smells that are ethnic and just do not fit the surroundings in the least. Oniony sweetness with a sort of wild gamey scent in the air, lots of spices in combinations that are not common, least of all to this part of NYC, leaving one with the vague olfactory memory of walking past an authentic restaurant somewhere hidden in the heart of Chinatown.

While the bar itself isn't empty, it's not booming either, a few regulars rest in their regular tables, one old man with skin like coal and hair like snow is slumped over a barstool at the very end of the bar, a battered copy of the Daily Bugle half folded in front of him, a half pint of warm sweaty beer holding down it's corner as he goes over the sporting odds.

The double doors to the back swing open and Hod enters from beyond, presumably where the kitchen lays, and carries a literal wooden bucket in one hand. This he plops down on the bar where one can see that the bucket is piled with meat and veggies and spices, steam rolling from it's opening as it continues to sizzle audibly. He's wearing an apron that carries a few stains on it, fresh ones, and his ever present sunglasses, mirrored to hide his deformity. "Okay," he says, calling out over the room, "who's gonna try it?" he asks. No one leaps at the chance.

A few weeks ago, a chance encounter in the Disaster Zone led to an unexpected invitation - well out of Peter Parker's normal circles, to the extent that he has them. But photography work doesn't respect 'normal' circles - when you're a freelancer, you go where the work takes you, even if that means traipsing through wholly unfamiliar territory.

… or, y'know, you *could* just let somebody more familiar with the territory take the photos. And the paycheck.

Peter doesn't usually have that much flexibility in his bank balance, though, so when there's an occasion to visit Harlem and snap some shots for an upcoming article and good pay, he nabs it. If nothing else, it's a good chance to expand on his passing familiarity with the lay of the land - and a convenient excuse to seek out Luke's on his way back. So it comes to pass, that in the absence of anyone accepting Hod's culinary challenge, the door to the bar swings open, and a young man of decidedly Caucasian stock strolls in, looking around.

The back door slams shut, and a young woman walks in. She's clad in black latex thigh high boots, pink fishnets over what appear to be black tights, and an uncomfortably short pair of cut off black denim shorts (thank goodness for the tights). Her top is a ripped up t-shirt with a LUCERO band logo, and her eyes are painted a pink and purple that matches the bright purple mohawk atop her head. And she's wearing an apron.

"Good God, Hod," Anya quips as she returns from emptying the trash. "What are you doing back there?" She hip checks a stool back into place on her way behind the bar, and quickly washes her hands of the disgusting grime that had formed upon them; careful not to chip her shiny, black nails in the process.

Her nose seems to tremble, uncertainty in her eyes as she eyeballs Hod. Fortunately, the door swings open with a distraction.

Anya stares at the entrant for a moment, painted eyes blinking owlishly.

Hod reaches out to patpat the side of the wooden bucket, "I've been abroad for a couple weeks, visiting places with old memories, had a few rise to the surface, felt like cooking. Helps excise the demons." he reaches around under the bar, patpating about until he brightens, then grows dour with a firm shake of his head, then brightens again as his arm comes out holding a ceramic bottle of something with dust on it. There's some form of Asian script on it, Kanji if one can read it, with a wax sealed lit. He turns and places it on the bar as he begins to pat around looking for glasses in all the usual places.

Blind or not, no one can say Hod doesn't know Luke's like the back of his hand. Better maybe. The back of his hand rarely has booze on it and therefore is mostly beneath his notice. "Namely, Khorkhog." he pronounces the word with a sort of gutteral throat noise. "Its uh… like Mongolian fajitas." he considers that description as he pulls out a bar knife to ply away the waxed lid and uses his teeth to uncork the ceramic bottle in his hand. Nods. "Yeah. Like that." another long pause as he takes the bottle over to a hot plate on the back side of the bar and starts fiddling with the temp dial and stuff, "Only you know, not at all." he offers a hand waffle in the direction of the still audibly sizzling bucket of meat and veggies.

To be fair it doesn't smell /bad/. Just… unfamilar.

"I didn't think the Mongolians had fajitas," Peter jokes mildly, "but they probably had something similar. - Hey Anya," he greets her with a slight wave and a friendly nod. And then he walks towards the bar, giving the established customers a polite berth as opposed to shoving his way between chairs.

"'Khorkhog,' you called it?" he asks Hod, doing a credible job of getting the pronunciation right, then taking a whiff of the smell coming from the bucket's contents. "Smells pretty potent, but …" Another sniff, followed by raised eyebrows. "Not bad, if it tastes like it smells."

Avery's been here before, though not in the bar, the last time she was here there was a bit of a tiff outside and she ended up heading back afterwards. Still, she now knows that her friend Anya works at Luke's and having not seen her amiga lately she decided to come for a visit.

Upon entering the bar she looks about, eyes of hazel bright and alert, and yup…there's. "Anya! Greetings."

Avery is dressed in clothing that is a bit unusual for her - she's wearing a pair of black pants that are snug at waist, hips and ankles, and baggy in the legs. Her feet are covered by black and white linen sneakers, and she's wearing an overlarge short sleeved pink top that leaves her midriff bare, and hangs over her shoulder. Fingerless black gloves are worn as well. On the whole - not even close to the girl's usually plain, practical, even frumpy attire. She's even wearing a bit of makeup, though not much.

And then she smells that food, and her stomach /growls/. "Oh! Whatever that is, I would like some, were it available."

Anya's attention slides back over toward Hod, watching him as he works. Her lips slide into a half cocked grin, and she says, "Sounds like Klingon. You aren't fixing up live gagh back there, are you?" She dries her hand on an apron, adding, "I'd totally try it if you were."

The young woman's attention now shifts back over to Peter, and her grin widens. "Hey, Pete. Bit far from Queens, si? Good to see ya here. I'll get ya anything you want." A glimmer of mirth enters her eyes. "I won't even tell anyone if you order something… y'know. A little harder."

Always the bad influence.

Her attention is then grasped by Avery, and her face brightens further still. "Avery! This place is full of surprises tonight!"

Hod tilts his head to the side at the sound of Peter's voice, haveing actually heard it properly, and he smirks a bit, "Zhizhu, you made it." he says, plucking the ceramic bottle from the hot plate and then bringing it over to the bar where he pours a a steaming shot of the clear liquid into a small ceramic shot glass. "It's prolly blasphemy somewhere, but fuck if I care. Saki is almost never a bad idea no matter what you're eating."

He tosses back the glass' contents with a soft hiss and then pulls out a plate, a fork, a somewhat intimidating steak knife like carving tool, and a pair of big metal tongs. The eating utensils go on the plate, the tongs, after a couple of misses, he stabs into the bucket's contents and leaves them there. "Alright people, help yourselves, there's a half a fucking lamb in there and a small garden of organic veggies and herbs."

Then a new voice chimes in eagerly and another plate and utensils clatter onto the bar unceremoniously, "Knock yourself stranger." he offers. "Hey Pinkie," Hod's ironic nickname for Anya ever since he was told she had pink hair… which was months ago and has not been updated once in the interim, "you want in on this? You cook it in a wooden or clay vessel on a heated stone, takes hours, meats fall off the bone tender, all kinds of seasonings." he pauses, "And there's sweet chili sauce and a thick gravy on the way. Soon as a I get a couple more of these." he wiggles his empty saki cup and pours himself another with practiced skill before knocking it back as well.

Peter's not so hungry that his stomach joins the chorus, but with Hod 'fessing up as to the ingredients, recognition dawns on his features. "That *definitely* sounds like it's worth trying," he states to Hod, taking a seat in front of the readied plate and setting his camera bag down next to his stool - keeping half an eye o it, or so, even as he serves up some khorkhog for himself. Meat *and* vegetables, thank you, meals should be balanced no matter how much of a carnivore you might be.

And Anya's subtle offer of something harder than his usual? He greets that with a good-natured grin - and a slight shake of his head. "Nope, gotta make it home at a decent hour and see what I can make of the afternoon's work. Thanks for offering, though." He really *does* appreciate the thought, too … but that doesn't explain the slight beckoning gesture he makes, trying to usher Anya closer without drawing attention to it. "Let me try this out before I pick out a drink …"

Avery's arrival is greeted with another of those friendly nods, which turns into a head-based gesture towards another nearby stool. "Plenty of room and plenty of food," Peter says cheerfully. "And the cook would probably roast *me* if I tried stuffing myself with all of it."

Avery is not terribly shy, not when it comes to food, nope. She approaches the bar and smiles to Peter, whom she doesn't know, and then to Hod, a bit uncertain when he doesn't seem to see, and then her eyes narrow, and the comprehension that he's blind is probably almost comical for Peter and Anya. "Good evening sir, my name is Avery, a pleasure and thank you."

Anya's greeting draws a huge smile from the slender young lady. "Pinky?" She asks at the nickname, because, she's wearing a pink top and Anya's not sporting much if anything of that hue at the moment. And then she laughs softly. "Well, I cannot say as to this place, as I am new to it, but…I know that at least one of us, is full of something." Oh, the teasing.

"Could I please have something to drink? I leave it to the tender of food and beverage what would go best with this food." Her own plate is heavily laden, bitty thing like her? Yeah, no WAY she looks like she's able to eat that much.

Anya's attention slides from one to the other, a smug expression of enjoyment upon her face. "He just ignores the Swear Jar when Luke isn't around," she remarks of Hod. It pains her much to have such clean language, but half the money in the swear jar is her tip money, so… she's had to adjust the mouth a little.

"Oh, I'm in," Anya tells Hod. "It smells fucking delicious." Speaking of that swear jar… looks like she just started a tab. "It's purple, now," she adds, and grins Hod's way, even though she knows full well he can't see it. The grin will be evident in her tone of voice, after all. "But the fishnets are pink, so, continua."

That much May have been for Avery's benefit as well. "Do the Sake," she advises. "It'll pair nicely I think," she adds, before sidling over toward Peter. At the hand gesture, she leans an elbow upon the bar so that her face can be a little closer. "A hot tea would go well with it, I think?" She lingers there for a moment.

Hod also drinks for free at the bar, two things which in theory should have bankrupted Luke by now… oddly that is not the case. Oh the other hand, Hod's cooking has been phenominal for business, so long as he's not going ethnic or experimental, which he has a tendancy to do. Like now. "Milk tea." he says, because of /course/ he can hear a conversation between two people no matter how close or quiet they get. "Green tea, cream, nutmeg, steeped over cinnamon and honey." he says, "Traditional dessert drink for-" he whacks the wooden bucket with a knuckle, "If you want a more normal version, there's lamb fat in it and minus all the sweet stuff. And a couple pinches of salt." he polishes off more Saki, "Go for the dessert tea. Your gentle young pallets aren't ready for the Blood of the Steppe." he smirks knowingly and then turns to head into the kitchen, "I'll start making some, and I'll return with the sauces and gravy." he offers helpfully.

As the double doors close behind him he bellows out, "I'm not changeing it to Purpley! That's just fucking silly!"

"Tea it is, then," Peter says agreeably. This is Hod's bailiwick, so he'll trust the expert - even to the point of putting cream and nutmeg in green tea. Dessert tea? Sure, why not, it's not going to be the weirdest thing anyone's ever drunk.

While Anya is close enough to make private conversatino, Peter fills her in. "Met Hod in my 'other suit' a few weeks ago," he explains, not quite whispering. "How well do you trust him about stuff?" It does occur to him that if Hod is blind (which he is), he may have sharp enough ears to pick out even a whispered conversation … but Peter needs Anya's input, and they can't exactly walk back out of the bar to keep the discussion *that* private.

"Speak for yourself, big guy," Anya asides to Hod, with no shortage of sass. "I wasn't kidding about the gagh! This stomach could handle a poisoned brick!" A pause. "Like a McDonalds cheeseburger!"

Coworkers always have a way with each other, don't they?

Sliding her attention back to Peter, she's grinning. "Sorry about that," she remarks, before the grin fades. She considers his question for a moment, her eyes shifting to the side a bit, looking at the doorway into the kitchen as it swings to and fro to a gradual halt. "He's rough around the edges," she admits quietly. "But he's as good as they come," she assures him. "And I'm pretty sure he's a hell of a lot smarter than he lets on. Something tells me, cooking isn't his only talent."

Hod very well may be the only employee at Luke's who hasn't pegged Anya as Spider-Girl, but it's only a matter of time.

Hod is gone for a bit, long enough to boil water in one of the fancy new 90 second induction tea kettles, he brought it special for this place, and to plate the sauces that were simmering on the stove. He turns off his burners and ovens and shuts the basics down until they're needed again later and returns to the bar with a serving platter with two very large soup bowls with handles, his idea of a tea mug apparently. What floats in them has a froathy foamy top with some sort of almost christmasy smelling flavor in the air. Scents that usually call one's mind to chai, now mingle with a bitter oolong like tea and a soft tang or something sweet in it. It is decidedly /not/ to Western tastes, which isn't to say it's bad, just very different.

"There." a saucer with a thick almost syrupy bright red sauce in it and a gravy boat with a thick brown meaty smelling gravy also rest on the platter, "Should be enough there to stuff a six man cavalry squad of the Khan's men." before he heads straight for the Saki's bottle and begins his ritual of pour and swallow once more.

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