I've walked past the George Street Pepper Lunch restaurant many many times since its opening in 2007. Even after another franchise opened up at Harbour Street, I still never found the right occasion to pay it a visit.
One day not too long ago, I was at an event at The Entertainment Centre and so with an appetite for something quick and easy, and a hankering for something new & different, Zen and I finally stepped into Pepper Lunch.
The restaurant name makes absolutely no sense as it opens for dinner as well as lunch... And there's more to the menu than 'pepper' flavoured foods!
So what is it
Pepper Lunch is a popular franchise with over 200 restaurants in Japan and many others around other parts of Asia. The concept behind Pepper Lunch is DIY fast-food steak, made possible with specially designed hot metal plates that are heated to 260°C by an electromagnetic cooker.
Show me the food
The menu ranges from $8.90 for a standard beef "Pepper Rice" and goes up to $16.80 for the "Tokusen" rib eye. Plus for an additional $3.50 on top of the sizzling plates, you can make it a meal with a bowl of rice and miso soup (or soft drink).
It's a bit dearer than typical fast food, but it does taste a hell of a lot better!
You order at the counter and within minutes, food is brought to your table.
My Hitokuchi (bite-sized) cut steak smells magnificent on arrival. It quickly sears, sending out a wave of drool-inducing smoke.
The idea is to cook the steak to your liking, so quite quickly, I get mine to a perfect medium. I also 'stir-fry' my beansprouts into the steak juices and soy & garlic sauce.
The steak is as anticipated - deliciously tender and flavoursome!
Zen loves his Japanese curry so has the hamburger curry. It doesn't look as appealing but I'm assured it is tasty.
Would I come here again?
Yes, probably, if I ever were in need of a quick feed around the area. There's something quirky and loveable about all things Japanese. Plus it's a great alternative to fast food... Although keep in mind it's not fast-food-cheap either.
Where can I get it
There are currently two Pepper Lunch restaurants in Sydney:
86/78 Harbour Street, Haymarket, NSW
Phone: (02) 9211 8801
537 George Street, Sydney, NSW
Phone: (02) 9264 3222