Let's get something out of the way first - I love Pepper Lunch. Yes it is true, the sizzling meat (or sometimes no meat) arriving on a hot teppan means intoxicating aromas and for the duration of your meal, it ensures it stays hot. I've tried the others in town and nope, they aren't as good. So when I got an invite to try some of their new items, they didn't have to ask twice. I brought along Viv this time as she has never had Pepper Lunch (although she has tried the competitors).
Before we got to the main items, we sampled their Gyoza (both chicken and beef versions) served on a hot teppan. These sported a thin dumpling skin that was cooked through while still appealingly chewy (it could've been a touch crispier on the bottom though). Inside, I found the beef and cabbage filling to be more loose and exhibit a more robust flavour as opposed to the denser, more mild chicken. The first sizzling item to arrive was the 300g Kobe Burger with corn, carrots, green beans, rice, miso soup, drink and mochi ice cream (dinner special at $18.95!!!). This "steak" meant business as it was thick and rather large. Due to that, the centre took a while to cook and in reality, only made it to medium. Not a problem for us as it was juicy, tender and succulent. The caramelization of the meat meant there was a smoky sear while there was a dash of black pepper and garlic butter on the outside. I found that adding just a bit of their sweet sauce elevated the meat even more so.
Next up was the Prawns & Sliced Angus Beef which was the other option for the $18.99 dinner special. After a few rotations on the teppan, it was nicely caramelized resulting in a medium-rare doneness. Tender with a meaty chew, the beef was seasoned similarly to the Kobe burger with black pepper and garlic butter. This went well with the side of rice and the saltier sauce. We had to remember to toss the sprouts around to get them cooked through. Interestingly plated (use your imagination), the Veggie Mushroom Burger consisted of the aforementioned ingredient and soy protein. The result was a meaty patty that had no meat at all. I found the taste of mushroom very strong (maybe too much?), but that meant there was no absence of flavour either.
My favourite (and echoed by others at the table) was the Maple-Flavoured Pork Steak. We could smell the intoxicating aroma as it sizzled. One bite and it delivered on the promise from the smell. It was beautifully caramelized where the sweetness was intense, yet not overpowering. There was an equal amount of savoury elements to provide balance. I found the tender chewiness of the meat to be on point where the fat content was just enough to provide both aromatics and succulence. Our last dish was the Yaki Udon with the choice of beef or pork. This was tasty with chewy seared noodles laced with an equal amount of sweetness and saltiness. The abundance of bonito on top added that fishy, briny, sweet and salty quality to the dish. There you have it, another tasty visit to Pepper Lunch. The highlight for me was the Maple Pork, I would order that again and again.
*All food, beverages and gratuities were complimentary*
- Fairly large portion sizes
- Reasonably-priced with all things considered
- No absence of caramelized flavours
- The DIY portion requires some skill to ensure optimum tastiness (ie. pay attention to it)