Japanese food enthusiasts like many of my readers and myself included would no doubt have been extremely excited to hear of the Grand Opening of Pepper Lunch, the infamous Japanese chain, which opened its first QLD store at Sunnybank just over a week ago. Perfect timing for an end of year foodie gathering with Joe K, Brisvegustarion, Just Island and The Invisible Food Critic. Arriving just past 6, there was already a queue outside, thankfully Joe had already negotiated with the manager and we could get a table after a short 20min wait.
As mentioned in numerous reviews, the restaurant focuses on meats grilled on a hotplate, DIY style. The menu clearly reflected this and there were very few other options. Other options though did include everyone's favourite ice cream!
For those unfamiliar with DIY cooking, a convenient sign on our table explained it quite well.
What I did find confusing though was the ordering system. Rather than going to the counter near the kitchen, they had an ordering station close to the door which was surrounded by people waiting to be seated. It took us quite a while to understand the system, which should hopefully be more apparent when the crowds lessen.
Taking it in turns to order, we were given a number for our table.
Our food arrived at lightning speed after. This was my classic beef, arriving just after Joe K’s jumbo beef. Whilst smaller, I found the size to be ample and good value for money. After noticing quite a few photos being taken at the table, the manager came to give a demonstration of how to cook the dish, using my classic beef as an example. The end result was a cross between beef stir fried with rice and Korean Bulgogi. I enjoyed the delicious garlic butter which infused the whole dish and the delicious crispy rice at the bottom but found it to be somewhat bland for a whole meal, and whilst the meat quality was better than Zen Flavours it was definitely way overcooked for me.
Other dishes around the table included the Wild Wagyu Steak with added egg,
Hamburger and premium steak combo,
and Eel Pepper Rice.
Having ordered a set, I had a side of chips. Considering it cost an extra $6 for this and a drink, it wasn't that great value. The chips were freshly fried and quite hot, but generally lacked crunch and the wow factor. Some options for sauce or seasoning could have easily rectified this though.
Brisvegustation, being the healthiest out of the group, ordered a salad to go with his eel pepper rice. It came confusingly served in a cup with a hole at the top, which made it not too conducive to shaking with sauce.
Rounding off our meal, around the table we had both the premium and standard matcha and chocolate varieties. Whilst the appearance was quite aesthetically pleasing, the consensus around the table was that it tasted not far from a McDonald's sundae. In summary, I had a great night at pepper lunch, catching up with some wonderful people to round off the year, but other than satisfying my long term curiosity, the food at pepper lunch was really mediocre at best.