Saturday, August 13, 2016

Pepper Lunch, Hawthorn (by invitation) by Bilby Blue

It was a cold winter’s night and Benny and I had been invited to Pepper Lunch in Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn. Founded in 1994 in Japan, Pepper Lunch now has over 200 outlets across Asia, as well as two in Melbourne (the other is in the CBD - see Bureaucrat's review) and outlets in Sydney, Canberra, Adelaide and Perth.

Pepper Lunch, Hawthorn - giant porterhouse steak
DIY teppanyaki steak

Probably best described as a do-it-yourself teppanyaki, your food comes to the table on a patented single-serve sizzle plate. The plate has been heated to a blistering 260°C (according to Pepper Lunch it only takes an awesomely short 70 seconds). You swizzle the food around on the plate using a spoon or chopsticks as it cooks, adding sauces to taste. For those unsure as to the technique, a video was playing in the background showing exactly how to cook the dish.

As well as the signature pepper rice dishes, the menu also includes steak, curry rice, teppan pasta (described as Italian Japanese fusion), donburi and vegetarian options.

Pepper Lunch, Hawthorn - Japanese Pokka iced teas
Our invitation included a main plus a side and a drink each. We both opted for a Japanese brand iced tea – lemon for me and lychee for Benny.

Pepper Lunch, Hawthorn - Agedashi Tofu
Plus we were served a complimentary side – an Agedashi Tofu. This was a block of fried tofu drizzled with a hoisin-like sauce. Scrummy.

Pepper Lunch, Hawthorn - seafood pepper rice
Seafood Pepper Rice

Pepper Lunch, Hawthorn - cooking seafood pepper rice on the sizzle plate
Seafood Pepper Rice - all mixed up

I ordered one of the signature dishes – seafood pepper rice. There are a bunch of add-ons available – egg, cheese, onion, mushrooms – but I had just the basic deal. The sizzle plate duly arrived, loaded with a big mound of rice, topped by sweet corn, and surrounded by prawns, scallops and salmon pieces. I was a bit worried, as the seafood was already starting to stick to the sizzle plate, but once I started breaking up the rice and stirring everything together, the butter in the middle of the rice helped to release the seafood.

Before adding any sauces, I tasted the food, and the two sauces. The sauces – amakuchi (“honey brown”) and karakuchi (“garlic soy”) – are both quite strong. If you decide to add them, you don’t need much. On our table, both sauces were rather confusingly labelled “garlic sauce”, but it was clear the two were different (and confirmed by my taste test). And I did slurp some sauce into my dish.

The end result was really tasty, and the seafood was excellent. And, just like home-made fried rice or paella, the best part was the crispy rice on the bottom.

Pepper Lunch, Hawthorn - seaweed Shake Shake salad
My side, a seaweed Shake Shake Salad, was a good choice as an accompaniment. The salad, served in a plastic cup, included seaweed, lettuce, corn and big fat noodles. It had no dressing, but I splashed in a small amount of the less viscous garlic sauce (no idea which one) which gave it a lift.

Benny was being a stereotypical bloke – in the mood for meat, he couldn’t go past one of the giant steaks. He chose the giant porterhouse (the other choice was a giant rib eye), which came in thick slices, accompanied by some carrot, beans, and corn on a baked potato skin (see first pic). The sizzle plate that was so successful for my seafood pepper rice turned out to be less than ideal for a good steak. It cooked the steak far too quickly beyond the ideal ‘medium rare’ (even before it was delivered to our table). The recommended method to stop the cooking process – piling the steak on top of the vegies – was only partially successful. Despite being a bit overcooked, the steak was a decent cut (with only a small amount of gristle) and stayed juicy with a nice grilled flavour. However, the vegetables suffered, becoming super hot under their meaty blanket, the carrot and beans cooked into limp blandness.

While overall the steak was acceptable, Benny regretted not choosing one of the signature pepper rice dishes.

Pepper Lunch, Hawthorn - sweet potato chips
The sweet potato chips – Benny’s choice of side – were quite good, especially with a sprinkle of the spicy salt that was supplied along with the sauces

Pepper Lunch, Hawthorn - everyone enjoying pepper rice

Pepper Lunch, Hawthorn


We really liked it
We really liked it (the signature pepper rice).


The signature pepper rice dishes work really well with the patented sizzle plates. The steaks not so much.

Find it at

Pepper Lunch
644 Glenferrie Road
Hawthorn Vic 3122
Telephone: (03) 9078 8980

Pepper Lunch Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

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