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Pepper Lunch on Elizabeth Street

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Published November 29th 2015
The DIY Restaurant
pepper lunch, Japanese restaurant, hot plates, pepper
Pepper Lunch on Elizabeth Street in the CBD

What would a meal be without salt and pepper? Salt can be considered a key seasoning in many meals so why is pepper the most widely traded spice throughout the world?

If pepper is your favorite ingredient then today is your lucky day, if you want to try something different. Pepper Lunch will cater to your desire for everything pepper. Located on Elizabeth Street in Melbourne's CBD, Pepper Lunch specializes in DIY hot plates doused in your favorite spice: pepper.

You may be wondering why pepper? Why not salt? Let's explore the origins of pepper to better understand why this hot spice can make a meal truly superb.

Pepper is widely known and used for its flavor and as a traditional medicine and has been since ancient times. Along with salt, pepper is one of the most commonly used seasonings around the world.

Though black pepper is native to south India, the Asian populaces have traded this amazing spice for a very long time. The little round dried pepper, a.k.a., peppercorn, is normally sold in its ground form, but over the last few decades the peppercorn has found a place in our store shelves, restaurants, and dinner tables.

The chemical piperine is responsible for the hot pepper taste you either love or hate in your meals. Most people would easily recognize the smell or look of ground pepper or peppercorns but did you know black pepper comes from a flowering vine in the family Piperacease and it is considered a fruit? That's right, that little ball we refer to as a peppercorn is actually a cooked dried unripened fruit and there are more varieties other than black and white pepper.

As a matter of fact, there are black, white, green, orange, red, and pink colour variations of pepper. There is also a wild version and many other versions of the spice derived from other plants used as pepper. The colour depends on the part of the seed used and whether the fruit (drupe) was picked from a vine or tree. In any case, there are as many color variations of pepper as there are colours in the rainbow.

Now that we understand how important the spice, pepper, is to food we can fully embrace the concept behind Pepper Lunch. Pepper Lunch likes to think of you, the customer, as their master chef. They assemble the "finest and freshest ingredients" and serve them on their patented sizzling hot teppan, allowing you to "immerse yourself in the culinary and wholesome experience of 'Sizzling it your Way'" with the added bonus of extra pepper.

A staff member waits on a customer
A staff member waits on a customer

Pepper Lunch is a DIY restaurant, with more than 200 outlets in Japan and Asia." At Pepper Lunch they promise a "dynamic and fresh culinary experience for everyone by presenting the novel concept of sizzling Steaks, Pastas, Curry Rice, and not forgetting [their] signature Pepper Rice." The staff at Pepper Lunch likes to encourage customers to experiment with your food by utilizing their "exquisitely crafted sauces to create a taste of your own!"

On my first visit to Pepper Lunch, I had to ask for help. While their DIY dining is a novel idea, the concept of "mix it, flip it and shake it" to your own liking was too different for me. Luckily, the staff is always happy to assist you until you become an expert at creating your own dishes. It also helps when you share your newfound expertise with your friends and family. As they say at Pepper Lunch, "Knowledge never tasted so good before."

Speaking of their meals, at Pepper Lunch all meat is served on a 260° hot plate, allowing you to decide when your meal is ready to be consumed. Whether you want well done, rare or anything in between, this uniquely designed and patented in Japan iron plate is "part of the successful formula of Pepper Lunch.

pepper lunch, Japanese restaurant, hot plates, pepper, curry beef
Curry Beef

The special electromagnetic cooker, is reminiscent of a hibachi table but in convenient plate form. It, too, is patented in Japan. The iron plate heats up to 260° in 70 seconds and remains hot for more than 20 minutes. This unique design allows the meat to be grilled at the optimum temperature so that it remains tender and juicy, plus the hot plate keeps your food warm for longer periods of time allowing you to enjoy the full flavor of your dish.

pepper lunch, Japanese restaurant, hot plates, pepper, Chicken Teriyaki Bowl
Chicken Teriyaki Bowl

Pepper Lunch's signature dishes include their "timeless favourite: Beef Pepper Rice." This peppery dish is "well loved by many and [their] Pepper Steak has been recognized by countless steak lovers to be a cut above the rest." The team at Pepper Lunch launched their Curry Rice and claim it has "created a storm among many curry lovers with its unique fusion taste."

pepper lunch, Japanese restaurant, hot plates, pepper, Aglio Olio Seafood
Aglio Olio Seafood

That is a lot of beef but what about other meats? Yes, Pepper Lunch also serves chicken, salmon and seafood dishes to satisfy your peppery taste buds. You may be thinking, 'Wonderful, I have so many meats to chose from but what if I don't want my meal peppered in, well, pepper?" Not to worry! The staff at Pepper Lunch is always happy to let the chef know of your desire for less pepper or no pepper. "Just inform our friendly outlet staff during your order and we will prepare [your dish] to your request."

pepper lunch, Japanese restaurant, hot plates, pepper, Shimofuri Porterhouse Pepper Steak
Shimofuri Porterhouse Pepper Steak

In a hurry? Don't fret! Pepper Lunch dishes can easily be made for take away. "Customers have to mix [the portions] themselves [but] in less than 3 minutes [their meal] can be taken away or simply order from our teriyaki range or J Curry range and we'll pack it for you."

If you have time though, sit down and enjoy the modern atmosphere and unique style of Pepper Lunch. The restaurant is quite accommodating for small and large groups. You will notice the Pepper Lunch logo inside the restaurant, as well as, prominently being displayed outside. It is easily recognizable because it is shaped to resemble a palette and symbolizes "the dreams of its founder, Mr. Ichinose. He sees the world as a white canvas where he wishes to add colours with his restaurants to make people happy."

Customer places order
Customer places order

Despite the fact Pepper Lunch has resided in the CBD for many years, it was founded in Japan where is quite popular with the locals. "Since 1994, this popular DIY fast service concept has grown to more than 200 branches in Japan, Singapore, China, Korea and other parts of Asia." In addition, you will find Pepper Lunch restaurants in New South Wales, Western Australia and South Australia.

Pepper Lunch is amply named and yes, it is open for dinner, as well as, lunch. "We are open Sunday to Wednesday from 11 am to 10 pm and Thursday to Saturday from 11 am to 11 pm." It is conveniently located on Elizabeth Street, just off of Lonsdale Street and a short walk from Melbourne Central.

Pepper Lunch is definitely a unique experience. Though I would love to be truly selfish and keep Pepper Lunch all to myself, it would be remiss if I did not share the wonders of their amazing peppery dishes with you. This is one place that is too good to stay tucked away for long. Visit them today for a truly great meal, snack or beverage before they become the hottest place in town and with food this good they will be soon enough.
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Why? A unique experience
When: Sunday – Wednesday 11am – 10 pm Thursday – Saturday 11am – 11pm
Phone: (03) 9078 6388
Where: 311 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne VIC 3000
Cost: Reasonable
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