Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Pepper Lunch

Pepper Lunch on Urbanspoon
When you can't go see, hear, touch Japan, you can now taste Japan.

I first heard of Pepper Lunch through E's sheer excitement that the fast food of Japan was due in Perth very soon. I consulted Google requesting an explanation and a whole load of bright, fun and vibrant food pictures came up - all the way from Japan and Singapore.

It was so new that there was no Australian site in existence!

Armed with the sniffles, a blocked head, an umbrella and pure determination to eat fast food, we braced the rain and cold and ... was left outside standing waiting for a free table, gazing at the warmth and sizzle of the atmosphere inside with longing eyes.

It seems like everyone has caught the Pepper Lunch bug and is quickly spreading it around via (word of) mouth while the only thing I managed to catch was an annoying cold, standing outside and strengthening my existing flu bug.


Seasoning & Sauces
Placed on every table are bottles labelled sweet sauce and garlic sauce, vital additions (as recommended by the restaurant) to enhance the flavours of the meats sizzling their life out in front of you.

Widely loved for serving teriyaki anything, Japanese cuisine has many dishes having sweet marinades and the like. Drinking a spoonful of the sweet sauce just to test it out, proved to have an overpowering sweet tinge that I really ought to have expected. Good for sweet people.

Its counterpart, the savoury and powerful garlic rendition has quite a strong flavour with a distinct smell of garlic. Both the sauces take on the runny liquid form, rather than the thicker gluggy kind.

Salmon Pepper Rice - $11.50
I didn't even have time to complain about hunger with the speed that my order came out. I couldn't wait to start eating, probably not because of hunger but pure excitement when you hear the SSSSSIZZLE approaching, louder and closer.

Personally when I'm choosing a dish and there's salmon on the menu, I don't really have a choice anymore. It's no longer a choice - it's a calling. But overcooked salmon is not, and I was horrified at how quickly the hotplate cooks the salmon while I did my usual pedantic food modelling.

But in hindsight, if you posed for that long on a 260 degrees celsius hotplate, you too would be cooked at an alarming rate.

The best kind of moat is a Salmon moat
The best thing with this is how your food stays hot hot hot! You really have to destroy the beauty of it and mix the ingredients, combine the flavours and turn it into something akin to fried rice.

A mound of rice supposedly hides a special sauce in the centre, surrounded by a moat of sliced salmon pieces and garnished with juicy sweet corn kernels, spring onions and lots of pepper makes for a very peppery lunch at Pepper Lunch indeedy.

Blending with one another, all the fresh ingredients contribute towards a very gourmet tasting fried rice, enhanced by that creamy, buttery sauce.

Cut Steak & Chicken Combo - $13.80
For those who can't choose to save their life, there is the handy option to choose a combo option, which combines two meats in the one dish. The combo option includes a side of vegetables to balance out the protein, of beansprouts, carrots and beans. Or, a bean.

Adding the available sauces to the pan lets you create your own meat & vegetable stir fry, but the beef risks getting overcooked too quickly. I talk with experience, having suffered through unnecessary tough beef but thankfully, nice peppery chicken.

Probably wise to protect your beef from the heat and create a barrier using the vegetables, where YOU control the cooking pace and not a silly old hotplate.

Combo with Free Upgrade (Rice & Miso Soup)
If "free" gets your blood pumping, Pepper Lunch is offering a celebratory offer of a free upgrade to a set menu as a grand opening special, but only until the end of June. I think I just missed out on their HALF PRICE offer, which would really be a steal!

The free upgrade gets you a bowl of rice and a choice out of miso soup or a soft drink, which usually sets you back an extra $3.50. You will probably NEED to have the main with rice, so with the end of June fast approaching, the dollars may add up to be quite a pricey lunch.

But for now, I'm taking full advantage of the delicious prices and somehow found myself again there the very next day, experiencing deja vu as I stood outside waiting for a vacant table, yet again.

Shimofuri Steak - $15.80
I questioned the quality of the steak before I tasted it, admittedly not expecting anything that would make me say wow. This meal is one of their more expensive choices but only by a small margin, but what is a good steak, if tenderness fights a losing battle to heat?

But if you act quick smart, you can retain the softness in your steak and the juicy marbled fat in the flesh. The thick steak is far from chewy, with a melt in your mouth texture from the slight fattiness of the meat and the mound of their special butter on top, slowly disintegrating from the heat and bubbling onto the steak.

Salmon & Cut Steak Combo - $14.80
If you're after a better tasting steak, these cut up pieces might disappoint. Their smaller size gives more surface area for the heat to cook them from all directions. FAST.

Quite a good proportion of salmon, and yet again an overcooked, overly dry and flaky salmon is no good. Think fast, act fast, and save your salmon. Eating here is really like cooking and eating at home, with no-one to blame for the food outcome but yourself.

In fact, it directly resembles what I do at home - cook in frying pan. Eat directly out of frying pan. Just to get out of doing the dishes.

Salmon & Hamburger Combo - $14.80

Since mixing and matching the same meats but in different combinations don't make the dish taste any better than it can, I was eager to taste the rest of their menu. Their hamburger offer consists of a meat patty, albeit a very oily one but a very good one.

Not only can you taste the fat, you can see the visible fattiness escaping from the patty and consequently cooking the patty again. So full of fat and so good that I had to give it away. 

It is probably not much worse than eating a burger, except you haven't got the bun nor the accompanying veges to mask the unhealthiness and help you pretend that it really isn't that fat at all.

Double Hamburger Steak - $12.50
Pepper Lunch opened in the rainy season while I was sick - not the best combination but the ingredients in this is! Much like a dismantled "dude burger" on a plate, the Double Hamburger Steak gets you two meat patties and a fried egg sunny side up.

With a perfect, wobbly, golden egg yolk, you've struck gold. And this is the closest I'll get to flipping my own burger patties without working at a fast food joint!

Cooking Instructions
Each meal comes with a set of instructions on paper wrapped around the hotplate and is up to you to follow. But really, follow those rules.

The staff serving your order to your table do give a quick reminder and tutorial on what you should do, but do not give a demonstration as you can have the fun yourself. A direct but honest tip that I heard staff tell our neighbouring table who ordered the Kimchi Rice:
"Don't put the sauce in this one. It does not taste nice!"

More Cooking Instructions

Creating a sense of urgency helps!


Please forgive the general smokiness of the pictures, as I did my best attempt of ferociously fanning away the heat from the hot plates. All the fumes make this place get hot and steamy inside - a good haven from the chilliness outside, but you're going to have patience. Its central location makes it extremely popular, crowded, but thank God it has a pretty fast turnover even when it is constantly buzzing with activity.

With quite a small fit out, there is lack of ventilation. You won't leave smelling like Korean BBQ, but you'll likely leave with telltale Japanese BBQ smell stains on your clothing reminiscent of fresh, sizzling meats. The hotplate cooks extremely fast and I couldn't even take pictures without it sizzling the life out of my cows. It seems to transforms meat from raw to rare straight to downright overcooked - completely skipping out the whole just right stage without you noticing.

The system of ordering at the counter minimises the fuss and maximises the speed. Staff are friendly, polite and efficient at clearing finished dishes, to get more customers in the door but are considerate enough to teach you how to eat your lunch when delivering to your table. However there is no waiting system in place, with customers trickling out the door messily and the layout of small tables means that if you come in a herd of more than 4, you'll most likely need to deal with longer waiting times. Be prepared to have a sad.

Staff dealt with the grand opening crowd pretty well. Their disorganisation with drinking cups worked to our advantage, with the worker simply giving us free bottles simply because their cups weren't washed :)

You experience the hustle and bustle of Japan in this tight squeeze shop. Not exactly, but remotely comparable with a chorus of Japanese staff shouting (greeting) at you on your arrival and shouting (saying goodbye) at you when you leave. Food is extremely fast without being fast food, yet Pepper Lunch is a "fast food" franchise in the bigger parts of the world.

If this is fast food, I wouldn't know what to call the junk outlets junk food outlets we have here.

(08)9325 3532
7 days from 11am
Last orders: Sun to Thurs 9pm; Fri/Sat 10pm



  1. Yayyy! Try the curry beef!

  2. There is a website:

    From your friends in the Philippines :-)

    1. Hello, thanks for the link!
      I did see that before, however it seems to only give information about the Sydney store. Perth is still a baby!
      Hope the business is doing good. Thanks for dropping by :)


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