I am a freelance reviewer in Sydney, and lover of sharing my experiences in all things food, wine, entertainment and travel related.
Published May 10th 2012
Upon meeting a friend for a lunch date, she suggests we go to a kooky fast food Japanese restaurant on George Street, Sydney, called Pepper Lunch. The concept behind Pepper Lunch is DIY fast-food steak outlet, which originated in Japan.
It is located near the George Street Cinemas, but it is a restaurant that I have never heard about, only to Google it online and realise its actually part of a worldwide chain.
I figure it can't be too bad if there are people queuing out the front, so we give it a whirl and pay the restaurant a visit.
The menu is printed in large posters on display out the front of the restaurant, so when we walk in we have an idea of what we are going to order. We both opt for the same thing, the regular Salmon, with a salad on the side – a total of $14.
After placing our orders at the counter, we are given a number, empty bowl, cutlery and napkin, and go off to then pick a table inside to sit at.
We fill our bowls up at the salad bar and help ourselves to some water while we patiently wait for our dishes. It's only a matter of minutes and before we know it, out comes what appears to be a sizzling hot plate which is steaming up.
The food appears to be sitting on what is known to be a patented electromagnetic cooker which heats the food to 260 degrees Celcius. It is wearing a paper collar necklace to minimise splutter and the paper provides instructions on how to prepare and enjoy the meal at hand.
The seasoned rice with onions, corn and herbs (one of which is definitely pepper), with thinly sliced strips of Salmon, sits on top of a sizzling, spitting plate. The waitress cautions us that the plate is very hot, as if we didn't realise that already by the steaming meat which appears to be cooking itself.
I stood back thinking, well this is different to what I am used to, considering I am virgin to Korean Barbecue and other eateries where you must cook your own. Then my friend gets straight into it, mixing the salmon and rice over the hotplate and adding some of the condiments on our table including garlic soy, and chili sauce, and I follow.
Although I can cook, it dawns on me that some people might find this a little strange, but I find out from my friend, the veteran 'Pepper Luncher' that it is impossible to overcook the dish as its set on a specific temperature and eventually cools, all one must do is stir it up and it cooks itself to perfection.
The aromas in the restaurant are tantalizing, and there are sizzling retreats everywhere we look.
The dish is exactly how my friend describes it to me, quick, tasty and cheap. I am also advised to come again to try the beef which is apparently very nice.
The other dishes on the menu are all quite cheap and you can grab yourself some lunch from $10 upwards, with the most expensive options around the $18 mark. You simply choose your meat, and it comes with the peppered rice. You can also make it a meal by adding a drink or miso soup for a few dollars extra.
Why? The verdict – Pepper Lunch is a kooky Japanese restaurant, which despite the name, is open for both lunch and dinner. It's perfect for a speedy, delicious and fresh meal that won't hurt the hip pocket, along with novelty of the electromagnetic cooker
When:Open from 11am daily with last order at 10pm.