pepper lunch

mainpictureWe were drawn in by the smell of meat cooking. Also by the plans we had made just prior to be meeting people there for dinner (Pepper Lunch FAQ #2: Can we have dinner at Pepper Lunch? A: Yes of course. Pepper Lunch is a name thought up by the founder, Mr. Kunio Ichinose. But we are open from brunch to after dinner). But mainly by the smell of meat cooking. A hearty "Irasshaimase!!" was hollered in our direction. I jumped. It's possible Miss Shiny did too. "Oh, hello." said we. "Please, order?" said they, in response. But there was a line building behind us, and we weren't sure what to do. So we stood back for a touch before picking our meals. "This is" we thought "different to what we are used to."

Pepper Lunch is a "fast steak" restaurant concept that originated in Japan when its inventor had a hankering for some quality fast food. Quality fast food that also involved steak. It has since been exported to numerous Asian countries such as South Korea, China, Taiwan, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines. Oh, and of course, Australia.

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waiting for the food to arrive

It's a different kind of fast food restaurant. After we order at the counter, we're given a number and invited to sit at any of the many tables that may take our fancy. Cutlery is collected from a receptacle. As are napkins. And then, with a hissing sound and a brief puff of meaty smoke, our meal comes atop a "patented electromagnetic cooker", adorned with a paper collar (to minimise splatter).

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poster advertising the patented cooker

"Have you dined at Pepper Lunch before?" we are asked, as the plates arrive. "No." we reply, studying our plates curiously. "Please stir!" replies our server, motioning in a circular motion. "And you," says said server, pointing at the one who is no-an-accountant "wait first, and then flip". We nod and the server, like magic, disappears. (Pepper Lunch FAQ #6: What if I don't know how to cook? A: Our staff would be glad to help you, just ask.)

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Regular Kimuchi Beef $9 or $11.20 for the set

Ever the adventurous, I have ordered a Regular Kimuchi Beef Set. A larger version would have set me back $10.20, with the set ringing in at $12.20. Rice, thinly sliced strips of beef, corn and a kimchi (or kimuchi) topping sit on top of a sizzling, spitting plate. "While the plate is hot!" exclaims the paper collar that has, thus far, saved both me and my companions from being splattered in assorted hot, red coloured sauces. I grab my chopsticks and stir.

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Regular Kimuchi Beef (post stirring)

And stir. And stir. And as I stir, all sorts of wonderful smells are being released. There's the pepper! And the garlic! Oh, some vinegar from the kimuchi topping! And then, the sizzling retreats somewhat, and I am left with this. Golden kimuchi coated grains of rice interspersed with juicy kernels of corn and tender shavings of beef. Tasty - this much is true. And aided even more so by the garlic sauce that sits on the table. "Shake first, then pour" we are instructed.

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Regular Beef: $7.80 or $10 for the set

Miss Shiny, not quiet sure about what to make of it all yet, has gone for what she calls "the safe option". It is the same as mine, but sans kimuchi, and resplendent in its pepperiness. Have I mentioned before how much I love pepper? I'm sure I have, and if I haven't then you know now. I love pepper. And this rice is beautifully peppered. Spicy and earthy and absolutely delicious. I'm almost disappointed that I didn't pick the safe option myself, as the pepperiness here has been masked by the overpowering flavour of the kimuchi in my own order.

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Regular Salmon $9.90 or $12 for the set

Others have ordered the salmon. (Pepper Lunch FAQ #4: What if I don't eat red meat?? A: We have the best chicken teriyaki in town. Some people prefer salmon with or without teriyaki sauce. We have really good salads and desserts.) And whilst it smells nice, I'm far preferring the smoky pepperiness of the red meat.

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Regular Salmon post-stirring

It is, however, well recieved by its owner, who declares it "Delicious!". I am too busy sneaking mouthfuls off Miss Shiny's plate to notice.

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"Nitokuchi" Cut $9.80 of $12.80 for the set

Finally, a different order. "Steak!" declares the one who is not-an-accountant. "But how will you eat it?" we ask, looking between his plate and the chopstick / spoon combination he is holding. "Umm. Not sure." he replies. But our worries are ill founded. The steak has been thoughtfully pre-cut into slices for easy consumption with the beansprouts and rice provided (rice not pictured). I'll be straight. I'm a very fussy steak eater. But this patented system seems to do a very nice job. The meat has a lovely brown colour once cooked, and is even more tasty when doused with the garlic sauce (remember: shake, then pour!) though I hear it's quite good without. A tip for the uninitiated: to stop your meat overcooking, place it on top of your bean sprouts once it's done to your liking. That way, it stays warm without drying out, and the beansprouts get a whole heap of meaty lovin'. Yeehah! Or should that be Oishii!

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Pepper Lunch
537 George Street
Sydney NSW 2000
ph (02) 9264 3222


(note: link is to the Phillipines' Pepper Lunch site)

9 bites more:

Anonymous said...

haha love your reviews shez luv em!
so i can go in, and there is salmon? yumy i wanna check it out now!

did you go next door tothe cake place after ?? mm eyecandy

xx Betty

Forager said...

I've been passing by this place for ages wondering what the food inside was like - always bypassed it and kept walking to Chinatown. May have to try it now (although it sounds like I'll smell of bbq afterwards).

shez said...

Betty: thanks love! you can definitely head in & there is definitely salmon. also eel if you're that way inclined. and no, didn't try the cake shop next door (85 degrees right?) but have done so previously. love the pear mousse cake there.

Forager: i've was similarly inclined until i was told to meet there. and the clothes aren't so bad afterwards as the ventilation is quite good there.

smileona said...

Ive walked past here a million times and never tried it. I always seem to walk past everything and never attempt to trying it out... dunno why.. maybe cos its george st? cinemas area? =(

Actually i have tried anything new along that strip since they've done it up. Have u seen that weird place on the corner of bathurst and george (near the KFC)? theres a weird restaurant which has "modern malaysian and italian cuisine"??? i thought that was a weird combo.

Love your posts as usual..
i love how you write your entries. ^_^

FFichiban said...

Ahh you should had said "Oh Harrroo!" :P Hmm I like Pepper Lunch ^^! They got some pretty nice steaks and if u put the rice on the hot plate = charred goodness :)

shez said...

Simon: thanks so much re the writing - stuff like that makes me happy! and i'm going to the malaysian/italian place for lunch this week. will let you (and the internet) know how it goes :)

FFichiban: i have a feeling that an "Oh! Harrrooo!" would have ended badly. and oh yes! charred ricey goodness = happy me.

Simon said...

You know what, this has to be the first time that I've ever seen a response addressed to me before I've made a comment.

Ok... To have a comment that fits your response... Let's see...
"The write up for this piece is exceptional, interesting and exceptionally interesting! You make the food sound so appetising! I'd love to know what other interesting places you're looking to have lunch at. Cannot wait to read about it!"

Ok, enough of that :P

This looks like an interesting rearrangement of the DIY teppanyaki restaurants they have all over Japan. Interesting enough that I'm keen to try it out for myself.

Nice inclusion of the FAQs into the post :)

shez said...

smileona: oh! i'm so sorry - i was being blind and read the wrong thing :(

Simon: oops *blush* must be getting blind in my old age. i found the FAQs on their website hilarious - had to include them.

Lorraine @NotQuiteNigella said...

I've walked past this on the way to the movies and always wondered what it's like! The meat sounds great and thanks for the bean sprout tip!

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