May 22, 2008
Rockwell, Makati City
The last time I was in Singapore, I didn't get to try Pepper Lunch since I opted to try Mos Burger instead during one of our lunches. I had good reason and it was because Pepper Lunch was opening in the Philippines and I can try it here. Pepper Lunch recently opened here in the Power Plant Mall and we were very excited to be the one of the first people to sample it. When we got there, we were shocked to see that the line reached the outside of the restaurant. We were about to change our minds and try it some other time instead, good thing we asked what the line was for... The line was only for ordering. There were a lot of seats inside. I think they did this to prevent over-crowding inside. A lot of hot plates were going around routinely so maybe the management opted for the process of lining up to make sure no one gets accidentally burned. Then again, maybe it's just a marketing technique exploiting the Filipino's weakness, curiosity. Good or bad, only time will gauge their method's effectiveness...
I mentioned hot plates, this was basically the concept of Pepper Lunch. Dishes were served half-cooked or close to raw on a 260 degree Celsius sizzling plate. You cook the dishes fully on the hot plate via turning it over to prevent from burning or mixing it ala stir-fry. This is indeed an impressive way to keep the dish warm before eating and as long as you cook it fully, you are ensured of clean food. The best seller or the most popular dish was what I ordered, the Beef Pepper Rice. I loved this dish! It would arrive as thinly sliced beef scattered around a mound of rice and as soon as it comes to your table top, you mix it right away so the meat wouldn't get overcooked. The sauces (garlic and/or sweet) is optional. For me, I prefer the dish without the sauce because it is really flavorful already. The pepper butter is enough to flavor but not to the point of over-powering the dish's original taste. The Beef Pepper Rice is really awesome and worth it IF AND ONLY IF you mix it right away. I can't stress this enough: MIX IT RIGHT AWAY else you'll have burnt rice and overcooked beef... and that is not good.
We also ordered the Combo Cut Steak & Hamburger. Didn't like this one as much as the Beef Pepper Rice but it was also good on its own. It is cooked via spreading the special butter on the meat, searing the cut steak, turning it once in a while to prevent it from burning, and placing it on top the steaming vegetables. The meat juices would trickle down on the vegetables, seasoning them in the process. You can just imagine the orchestra of flavors in this dish. The hamburger was already half-cooked to you just heat it over the hot plate. Again, the process of cooking it was really cool so I think that was the best part of the Pepper Lunch experience. The fact that the customer is included in the cooking process and is partly responsible for the outcome of his/her order. A very good idea. At times, simplicity in itself, is the ultimate invention.
I can't wait to try the other dishes next time like the Curry Beef Pepper Rice and the other steaks. I will surely come back to Pepper Lunch and I hope I see all you guys there...
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