I saw fast food chain Pepper Lunch everywhere in Tokyo but found there was always something better to try. When I came back to Canberra, the first Pepper Lunch eatery had opened in Civic. Pepper Lunch is a DIY teppan eatery where the majority of items are cooked by the diner on sizzling hot plates. I waited a few months before trying it out. On a cold winter’s night, I met up with V to finally give it a go. I got there first and it was already so packed at 6.30pm. There were no free tables so I sat up on one of the stools by the window. Pepper Lunch is basically your typical fast food chain with staff in bright yellow uniform and menu boards lit up behind the counter. You order and pay at the front counter, take your table number and find a seat.
It only took less than 10 minutes for the food to arrive. By this stage, we had been keeping an eye on the tables and quickly grabbed one after two people had left. The tables are a lot more comfortable and also meant we were further away from the front door which kept letting the cold air in. I ordered the beef and hamburg (beef pattie) sizzling curry rice ($14.90) which came on a hot sizzle plate. A paper wrapper comes with the plate advising the diner that the plate is hot in case that isn’t already obvious.
Our waitress advised to wait until the meat was cooked before pouring my gravy boat of curry sauce over the top. The curry sauce was very peppery but it did go well with all that beef. A very decent meal for $14.90.
V ordered the salmon pepper rice ($11.50) and added an egg ($1) to it. The dish didn’t look like the photo (which had a lot more salmon in it) so it wasn’t exactly what she was expecting.
Pepper Lunch sell steaks, pasta and vegetarian dishes. Sides can be added to the dish such as egg, mushrooms, onion etc for an extra $1 per side. The dish can be upgraded to a meal with a green tea, plus a choice of miso soup, rice, fries or a salad. For dessert, there were soft serve vanilla ice creams with a choice of syrup including matcha flavoured syrup!
Overall, service is relatively efficient although they could open up two registers during peak hour for those ordering. The food is quick to arrive at the table and staff are polite warning the both of us of our hot hotplates. Prices are cheap depending on what you get. Portion size is average – not too big and not too small. The eatery is buzzing with chatter but it’s not loud enough that you need to shout across at your dining companion.
Pepper Lunch is located on Bunda Street in Civic, next door to Oliver Brown.
Value for money 8/10
FPJ score 23/30
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