Double Curry Beef Pepper Rice

21 02 2011

Double Curry Beef Pepper Rice

 

I’M NOT planning to do a Supersize Me.

But on Friday night at Town, Brother and I found ourselves gravitating towards Pepper Lunch yet again.  We didn’t feel the need to convince each other to choose it over the many restaurants on that second floor strip alone.  Pepper Lunch has become the natural choice.

So standing in front of Rona at the counter, I pronounced to Brother, yet again, my goal.  Honestly, it’s something I’ve felt I couldn’t commit to so I have kept myself from blurting it out.  Until that second, Friday night.

“I think Brother that even after you’ve gone, I’ll try my best to go through everything on the menu.”

I began by finally going past the Beef Pepper Rice on the board.  Breaking from a routine for me could be quite hard sometimes, so I decided to take baby steps.  I ended up not wandering far from my usual – I asked for Curry Beef Pepper Rice.  Double beef of course!

I love curry.  And I want it unapologetic.  Not the usual yellowish powder being passed off as curry when it actually tastes like ground cheez curls to me.  On a trip to India, I gained a deeper appreciation of just how curry is the cornerstone of their cuisine.  This pungent blend of spices serves as the fundamental ingredient from and around which a whole dish is developed.  A typical curry powder may contain the redolent smokey-ness of cumin, the parsley-like essence of coriander, the deep aroma and intense color of turmeric, the biting heat of chili powder, and the licorice sweetness of fennel, among many others (cardamom, cinnamon, cloves).  Depending on the proportions, and the region where a dish originates from, one may have a “tika,” “tawa,” or “goan” curry.

Fortunately, I didn’t have the same problem as Grace Adler (of Will & Grace fame).  My hair doesn’t frizz the moment the sizzling plate hits the table.  And this one being “Curry” Beef, I instantly caught a whiff of the potent, heady earthiness of the spices. 

I felt to be at the mercy of the limitations of my Canon IXUS 860IS because I just couldn’t find a way to get a clear shot of the really hot food.  So before the lovely pink and juicy beef strips got overcooked, I proceeded to mix my Curry Beef Pepper Rice.  I noticed that the mound of curry-capped white mountain of plump Japanese rice hid underneath a slosh of sauce that I surmised to be the garlic soy sauce.  Mixed with the curry powder and heated perfectly through, it was a gust of air enough to send me on a gastronomic high.

I might end up cheating on my goal.  Because I’m feeling that on my next time back, I will have to get the Curry Beef Pepper Rice – double beef please! – one more time.  I’m having dreams of this curry concoction as it is exactly what I wanted curry to be – not a smack, not even a kiss on the lips, but a full on torrid affair.

The beef strips are just so temptingly pink and oozing with juice.

 

Done mixing!

 

The requisite side of beansprouts

 

I top every "chopsticks"-ful with beansprouts!

 

Newfound love!

 

Copyright © 2011 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.





Not even a smack but I’m not complaining

16 02 2011

Kiss on the lips!

“HAVE YOU made it to 50 couples yet?”  The Flash asked, quite obviously alluding to the resto’s “Kiss on the lips” promo, now on its third year.

With a smile, the cashier said, “No, Sir.”

I looked at The Flash straight in the eye and snapped back with something like, “I’m not that desperate for a free tiramisu!”  Hahaha!  He turned around and scouted for unsuspecting diners to help him snatch a free dessert.  I knew he was just kidding because we wouldn’t trade our Pepper Lunch dinner for a run-in with law enforcement.  And he would have to answer to Brother first, who at the time was already comfortably seated, waiting for his order of Beef Yakiniku; and then to The Tycoon who was also standing by for his sizzling hot Hamburger Steak with Fried Egg.

Brother's Beef Yakiniku

 

The Tycoon's Hamburger Cut Steak with Fried Egg

I heaved a sigh of relief when The Flash turned serious and ordered his Unagi and Salmon Combo.

Unagi and Salmon Combo

 

The Flash mixes his seafood combo!

Pepper Lunch must’ve been at Rockwell for over a year before I even had the chance of trying it out.  Friendship and TheCorporateTeener would egg me on – tease me with real-time accounts of their lunches there – to finally give it a try.  I wouldn’t budge.  But when I finally did, there was no stopping me to keep going back.

For a change, I asked for the Hitokushi Cut Steak, with Mixed Pepper Rice, Miso Soup, an extra Mixed Pepper Rice, and an extra side of beansprouts.  Yeah I know, it’s like eating for two again.  But I’m not coming clean and say that it was Valentine’s Day, I’m single, and I was taking everything out on the food.  I’ve always had an appetite bordering on gluttony that would’ve earned the ire of John Doe in the David Fincher thriller Se7en.

My Hitokushi Cut Streak

 

A close shot of my steak!

 

To prevent overcooking, I just flipped the steak once and then rested the chunks on top of the vegetables.

 

Empty bowls!

While staring at the stack of five cleaned rice bowls on our table – we actually finished seven between us four – I floated one ambitious task for Brother and me.  “Why don’t we go through eveything on the menu before you leave for Singapore (for good)?”

I knew we won’t have the time.  But I guess we can still make it to one more visit – at least to try their newest dessert, the tiramisu made by their Japanese pastry chef, kiss on the lips not necessary.  Hahaha!

Copyright © 2011 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.





Over the moon in 140 characters

7 02 2011

Such a sweet tweet by @PepperPhil

BEFORE HITTING the sack at way past midnight, right about the crack of dawn, I logged in to my blog account to make a couple more new posts.  That’s when I noticed that my site’s weekend readership was unusually busy.  (Not of meteoric proportions.  Just against my standards.)

And that’s when I saw that most of the incoming traffic was from – drumroll please, mention of the world’s most popular social networking and microblogging site ahead!twitter!

What?!  I’m on twitter?!  I don’t remember getting into a fit with any celebrity.  Hahaha!

Seriously, I was floored to find out that @PepperPhil, the official twitter account of Pepper Lunch Philippines has tweeted about my most recent blog post about them.  I saw their comment on my post, but no explicit mention that they tweeted about it.  Quick on the heels of that tweet was the retweet of @piamagalona.  Yes, the Pia Magalona.

I’m like…  I mean…  you know…  beyond.  Like, so beyond!  Super thanks for the mention!

Retweet by @piamagalona, the Pia Magalona

 

Brother found a couple more retweets!

 

Copyright © 2011 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.





Moo two nights in a row

4 02 2011

Clean! This is The Flash's. I always use Pepper Lunch's orange chopsticks. And I end up with a clean plate too!

IT WAS a one-sided carnage outside a Roman coliseum.  For two consecutive nights.

Brother, The Flash and myself spent a couple of nights together shopping *wink*.  I guess it was just one of my little efforts for a little more altruism in this world.  That is, expressing my unselfish concern for the welfare of others.  I mean, in terms of what they strap on their wrists.

With The Flash

 

With Brother

Of course, shopping meant getting famished towards the evening’s end.  As both were nights in Town, the three of us decided – no long discussions necessary – to indulge in our carnivorous desires at Pepper Lunch.

As a creature of habit, I’d order the same thing over and over again.  I would stop at the point in the menu where it says, “Beef Pepper Rice”, which is like the starting point.  I’d ask for it to be “double beef” then, I’d have extra Mixed Pepper Rice, and Miso Soup.  Once settled comfortably in my seat, I’d make another go to ask for a side of Vegetables (just the bean sprouts, please!).  And once I’m done with the first portion of rice that comes with the dish, I’d make yet another trip to the cashier – or the likes of Hazel or Oteph at Town would offer to do it for me – to get another Miso Soup and another side of Vegetables.

See, I always eat for two.  Hahaha! 

Pepper Lunch has been a favorite and I’ve talked about it in length here.  Five posts, to be exact – here (Now this is sizzling hot), here (Stare. Spread. Flip. Enjoy.), here (Dinner, a movie, and “semblance of a life”), here (Peppery & Spidey), and here (The Caped Crusader in person at Pepper Lunch).

Double Beef Pepper Rice

 

My Double Beef Pepper Rice, mixed up!

 

I really love the amount of yummy "fat" that comes with the beef in their Beef Pepper Rice!

 

Brother's Double Beef Teriyaki Pepper Rice. He was busy surfing the net when this landed on the table. So I took it upon myself to "cook" his food.

 

The Flash's Salmon Pepper Rice

 

Brother's Tokusen Rib Eye Steak

 

Brother spreading butter on his Tokusen Rib Eye Steak!

 

The Flash's Unagi Pepper Rice

 

Really yummy unagi!

 

Mixed Pepper Rice

 

Quite obviously, I'm super fond of pepper! And Pepper Lunch uses only the outermost covering, which is the most fragrant part of the peppercorn!

 

Molten Chocolate Cake A La Mode. Pepper Lunch has fab desserts too! I haven't tried any of the salads though.

 

Vanilla Crepe Cake A La Mode

 

Copyright © 2011 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.





The Caped Crusader in person at Pepper Lunch

15 09 2009
Shangri-La 091409 - Solo 29

Just another night at the mall with the camera-shy Batman!

THE LINE became so quiet that I thought we got cut.  “St. Francis?”  the person on the other end of the line asked, not a hint of exasperation was even detectable.  “I thought you said Shangri-La Plaza?”  he continued.  It was one of those moments that allowed me only a few minutes to look up in the sky and scratch my head, freezing me exactly where I was standing.  Which, in this case, was right smack halfway through crossing from SM Megamall Building A to St. Francis Square.

Shangri-La 091409 - Pepper Lunch 00 Text Invite

The text message that I thought the Caped Crusader didn't answer... causing all the confusion.

“But you didn’t text me back if it was ok with you!”  I attempted to protest, while I scrambled on checking in my other cellphone if I unwittingly marked as read his response.  I heaved a sigh of relief when the contents of my inbox – at least the most recent 20 of 2389 messages – acquitted me on any impending charges of gross dedma.  Calmly, I asked for a new set of directions as my current predicament disoriented me big time.

Before long – and with beads of perspiration forming at my temples – I found myself within the round enclosure of the mall’s grand revolving door, right between the panels that have the newly opened Penguin® Munsingwear’s ad on the door’s central shaft.  I dialled my friend’s number and before I could even finish describing – in sooo many words – where I was standing, I turned around and he was there.

Finally, after quite a while, Batman the Caped Crusader in person!

Yes, it has been a while since I last met up with one of my bestest superhero friends.  I was all too excited, especially since his schedule has been so swamped (that’s an understatement there!) eversince his MBA program at the country’s foremost university went full swing.  For last night’s dinner plans, he was just so willing to oblige to make it a Pepper Lunch dinner per my request.  You know how much I (heart) Pepper Lunch.  But this particular trip was all because of their new DIY Pasta Bolognese with Grilled Sausage.

Shangri-La 091409 - Pepper Lunch 00a

The very spacious Pepper Lunch branch at the Shangri-La Plaza Mall.

And since Batman hasn’t been to Pepper Lunch, I just felt that it was my duty to introduce him to one of the most pioneering and best casual dining options ever to be made available to the discriminating Filipino palate.

Shangri-La 091409 - Pepper Lunch 16 Interiors

The predominantly orange-hued interiors of Pepper Lunch. I'm so loving all the lamps (chandeliers). They kind of remind me of this all-stainless-steel-and-orange Alessi wristwatch I love!

Batman said he was a little full – he doesn’t usually have rice in the evenings – so he initially just asked for the Chicken Teriyaki Rice and kept repeating: “Pwede ba walang rice?  Pwede ba walang rice?” (Can I have it without rice?) that I almost felt he was reciting a mantra.  While I was kind of happy that he didn’t take the usual Beef Pepper Rice route, I was really kind of hoping he’d opt for either Tokusen or Shimofuri Pepper Steak.  I wanted his initiation to Pepper Lunch to be quite the experience.

Shangri-La 091409 - Pepper Lunch 01 Batman

Batman perusing the menu. I waited patiently on the side, keeping my fingers crossed that he would zoom in on the Tokusen or Shimofuri Steak!... Then he said Chicken Teriyaki Rice!

After extolling the virtues of excellently marbled Shimofuri Pepper Steak – and yapping at his ear to no end – he finally allowed to be egged on trying this instead of his previous chicken teriyaki preference.  But not without again saying, “Pwede walang rice?” (Can I have it without rice?).  As I would almost always have my way when it comes to food, I just asked our very pleasant order-taker Joan to keep the rice, even requesting it to be turned into Mixed Pepper Rice.  I wagered with myself that Batman would clean up his bowl of rice in no time.  And as for myself, I asked for what I came there for – the Pasta Bolognese with Grilled Sausage!

Shangri-La 091409 - Pepper Lunch 05 Bill Total

Our dinner bill total. So worth it!

 

Shangri-La 091409 - Pepper Lunch 06 Receipt Meals

The receipt for our dinner

 

Shangri-La 091409 - Pepper Lunch 03

For those not as ardent a lover of Pepper as I am, you have an option! But then again, Pepper Lunch uses only the outermost shell that is most fragrant... what's not to love?!

 

Shangri-La 091409 - Pepper Lunch 14 Table Number

They (Joan, Aisa & Jhon) sent all the wonderful food to us at Table# 52!

I thought it was only the rice that was to be the subject of Batman’s skepticism.  But the very moment the hot plate landed on our table – Table# 52 – he just had to ask, “Is that butter?” pointing to the beige colored floret of cream sitting on top of the succulent fresh meat.  He was setting it aside, and I let him to, but not without appealing for him to reconsider basting his sizzling steak with Pepper Lunch’s secret creamy butter.  I thought I made my puppy face while I pleaded so he did reconsider.

Shangri-La 091409 - Pepper Lunch 13 Shimofuri for Batman

Batman's Shimofuri Pepper Steak! Yes, that's him setting aside the wonderful butter. He did reconsider spreading it on his pepper steak. Good call!

With his first bite, I could tell that an overwhelming wave of satisfaction had taken over Batman’s being.  Okay, that may be a stretch.  Hahaha!  Suffice it to say, he just immediately flashed his beaming smile, peppering his reaction with one-liners in the vernacular: “SarapSarap!”  and “LambotLambot!”  (“Delicious!” and “Really tender!”).  As he enjoyed his dinner, I pulled closer the condiment cluster and introduced Batman to Honey Brown Sauce.  Slowly, I saw his spoon inching closer to the bowl of the magical mixed pepper rice.  He’d scoop a little at a time, reminding me from time to time that half of it was mine.  After he bridged the demarcation line he had just set on the surface of the perfectly cooked and perfectly stained Japanese rice, he sheepishly glanced at me, probably waiting for me to quip, “I told you you’d love it!”

And he did.  He did clean his bowl and plate, as I had predicted.  (Save for the bean sprouts which he left for me to enjoy!).  And he loved the meat for its innate goodness.  He hardly used the honey brown sauce.

Shangri-La 091409 - Pepper Lunch 09 DIY Pasta Bolognese with Sausage

My DIY Pasta Bolognese with Grilled Sausage. Such a steal at Php 285.00!

 

Shangri-La 091409 - Pepper Lunch 10 DIY Pasta Bolognese with Sausage

A close shot of my pasta and sausage dish. Notice how truly "Bolognese" the sauce is! That's top quality beef!

The Pasta Bolognese with Grilled Sausage that I had was such a treat.  A huge departure from how I usually have my pasta – in terms of two areas.  First, I’m partial to purely tomato sauce, as in coarsely chopped fresh roma tomatoes that I would blanch, peel, seed, and cook myself.  And to perfect this sauce, all I would need are crushed red pepper flakes, slivered garlic, a little salt, lots of freshly torn basil leaves, and even more freshly grated or shaved parmesan cheese.  DEFINITELY NO MEAT.  Second, I have never served my pasta on a sizzling hot plate.  (Duh, I don’t have Pepper Lunch’s patented hot plates.  Hahaha!).

Shangri-La 091409 - Pepper Lunch 11 DIY Pasta Bolognese with Sausage

They win plus points for the lovely presentation. Notice the specks of herbs in the sausage. "Mas masarap pag real!" Hahaha!

I thoroughly enjoyed my pasta dish!  Given that it was nestled on a hot plate, I couldn’t figure anything else Japanese about it.  It was as Italian as Italian could get.  The spaghetti was al dente, which caught me by surprise given that the dish was sitting on something that was heated up to well beyond 200OC.  The bolognese looked and tasted authentic.  I mean, true to the original sauce that came from Bologna, Italy, Pepper Lunch’s version was more “meat” than “tomato” sauce.  It was as if they ground up my steak and put it on top of pasta!  I loved it though that I could pick out from the sauce the actual bits of fresh tomatoes.  But clearly, the star of the generously sized dish – quite a steal at Php 285.00! – was the highest quality beef that Pepper Lunch has built its reputation on.  And the grilled sausage was good too.  I just let Batman have most of it as he undoubtedly favored the highly seasoned minced meat, full of real smokey goodness.

Shangri-La 091409 - Pepper Lunch 18 Receipt Dessert

The really super affordable price belies the goodness of this molten chocolate cake a la mode!

We capped off our leisurely paced dinner with the Molten Chocolate Cake a la Mode.  I had Batman stab the top of the cocoa powder-dusted confection to let out the warm, smooth chocolate ganache.  All of my superhero best friend’s allusion to being already full vanished in thin air from when the chocolate and ice cream delight first gave him a delicious smack.

Shangri-La 091409 - Pepper Lunch 21 Molten Chocolate Cake a la Mode

Pepper Lunch's Molten Chocolate Cake!

 

Shangri-La 091409 - Pepper Lunch 19 Molten Chocolate Cake a la Mode

Did I say dessert was a la mode?!

 

Shangri-La 091409 - Pepper Lunch 23 Molten Chocolate Cake a la Mode

I had Batman stab the cake with his spoon. Look at that generously cocoa powder-dusted cake top!

 

Shangri-La 091409 - Pepper Lunch 25 Molten Chocolate Cake a la Mode

You should've seen in person when this warm chocolate goodness cascaded down the cake!

 

Shangri-La 091409 - Pepper Lunch 26 Molten Chocolate Cake a la Mode

We let the the ice cream melt on the molten chocolate cake. This has got to be the best gooey treat I've had of late. Pepper Lunch sure is proud of their dessert selection!

Long after dinner was over and well within the stroll in the mall and the “window-shopping” that ensued, we continued catching up on and with each other’s latest goings on – both the good and not-so-good.  We promised to tick another date on our calendars to pick up where we later left off.  There were just so much to cover!  And last night was short.

Shangri-La 091409 - Pepper Lunch 07 Gift from Batman

A surprise gift from Batman!

Hopefully by the next dinner, I will have finished the book that he gifted me with last night – “Outliers The Story Of Success” by Malcolm Gladwell.

Shangri-La 091409 - Pepper Lunch 15 Gift from Batman

I can't wait to devour this! It comes highly recommended by Batman!

 

Edit:  Here’s a response for the Mr. J. van Straten…  I don’t remember smiling or winking (hahaha!), but I guess my excitement when placing my order for the “new” pasta dish was so apparent that your friendly and pleasing counter staff turned a signage to show me this:

Shangri-La 091409 - Pepper Lunch 27 New Offerings

Pepper Lunch's new offerings. I... CAN'T... WAIT!





Lost in conversations with superheroes and in parallel worlds in my head

14 09 2009
Alabang Town Center - Corte de las Palmas 00

Corte de las Palmas in Town

ONE THING about my superhero friends:  we really talk.  They are three people to and with whom I can share practically anything and everything – including my impeachable thoughts and acerbic opinions on things.  And when your political views can never be any more conflicting than when they do rest on polarized opposites, and still you manage to find the same things to be funny, I’ll make a huge wager that you have found a friend to last you for life.

And sometimes, somebody who wouldn’t mind giving you a ride to your dream destinations.  Which, for me as of late, has been Town on Friday nights.

Actually, I’ve learned that one sure way to discover real friends is to experience how they are outside the confines of the office.  Freed from the constricting fabric-lined rectangular panels that fence us in for the most part of the day, we actually reveal who we really are.  It may be through sharing gatronomic adventures, going to toy and hobbies conventions, seeing a movie and then tearing it apart later, or simply sharing a ride together.  Trust me, some of the most meaningful, character-revealing and character-building conversations happen within the confines of a car.

Fortunately enough for me – as I have alluded to above – I’ve always been given a ride to Town on Friday nights by one of my superhero friends.  Though we do get to talk a whole lot on all the other days of the week, I treat our Friday after-office chats as the fitting recaps to the week.  Especially the last one as I had a most eventful week.  But I won’t be writing about the details here as there are just some things I can only tell superheroes.  And truly – as that cheesy song goes – I would never trade these conversations no one hears.  Only food has stood witness – ever.  Last Friday, we subsisted on – among other stuff – four Lemon Square® cheese cupcakes.  As my superhero friend might need to save the world much later after he had dropped me off, he had a vitamin-and-antioxidant boost with his Big Chill® red grapes-and-lychee smoothie.  As for me, I would’ve opted for caffeine on an IV, but I had to settle for the fancy invigorating concoction of freshly brewed coffee, steaming hot milk, chocolate syrup, and whipped cream that Coffee California® calls Mocha Manic.

My superhero friend would usually ask what I would do at Town.  Dinner a Pepper Lunch has been a requisite stop as of late.  And yes, a movie too.  But this last time – as I crossed the orderly parking lot surrounded by trees with rain-drenched yellow ribbons – I found myself drawn back to a place that I had used to frequent to lose myself in a distraction from the bright lights and the beautiful people – Powerbooks.  Yes, I did have to say beautiful people.  For some reason, Town is one of those malls where the coolness and beauty quotient could be so high that I break out in spots.  So better be within a book’s reach just so I could bury my face in it if I had to.

Powerbooks was having a sale.  And I was so tempted to dig deep into the piles where I could get one title for free with a single receipt purchase worth a thousand.  But that would definitely mean eating up precious minutes I could better devote to reading.  So I headed directly to the wall where they have the celebrity chef cookbooks – the first section I always gravitate towards.  Their current featured chef was Gordon Ramsay, with whom I share the same recipe for amazing chicken broth.  I piled up as many books as I could.  But before heading to my favorite seating section right up front – where the spotlights would warm my feet – I swung by the local publication shelf and reached out for a few compilations.

I found myself sandwiched in between two ladies of leisure who were oblivious to my presence and my heavy stack of bound printed matter.  They were burrowing deep into their own captivating reads – lifestyleasia, Town&Country, Metro Society.  I began with my first title and in minutes, was lost into my own world as well.

That’s what has always fascinated me with reading.  You can get totally lost and caught up in the parallel world it creates in your head.  And it would take the reflex to glance at my black Technomarine wristwatch to tell me that I still existed in the real world where a good few hours had already passed from when I first cracked open the book topmost on my pile.  The “real world” where my plans had obviously gone – pun right ahead! – not as I had planned.

So I hauled my stack to replace them on their shelves.  But not without first taking a good look as to which would be worth purchasing.  I took a couple of titles.  Then I went to the magazine section and fixed it with a long stare.  I wasn’t waiting to hear any of them in my head asking me to buy them.  I was hoping something on the texts on the covers would leap out to pique my interest.  I did find one – the Kris Aquino magazine, featuring “26 WONDERFUL LESSONS I learned from my mom.”  I thought to myself that Friendship would appreciate a copy too.

I fulfilled my metabollic needs that I had staved off for hours, and went on my way home.

At home, I devoured in one sitting the 260-page book I bought!  I turned open its cover very late into Friday night and was through with it even before the sun broke free from the clouds.  I even had time to finish the magazine.  Both were such great reads!  I could hear Friendship’s approval in my head.

Hmmm…  voices in my head…  better catch some zzz’s now!

Kris Aquino Magazine

A worthwhile and really inspiring read – the Kris Aquino magazine, featuring "26 wonderful lessons I learned from my mom." I'm thinking about sending this to a couple of people in Singapore...





Notes from a time traveling day

1 09 2009

AND I thought Sheldon was just being impossibly difficult.

That and the fact that he – Sheldon of the hit TV series “The Big Bang Theory” – was most probably just given the really juicy, overly descriptive lines befitting the really smart guy that he is.

With much frustration, Sheldon says, “This sandwich is an unmitigated disaster.  I asked for turkey and roast beef with lettuce and swiss on whole wheat.”  “What did they give you?” asks Raj.  “Turkey and roast beef with swiss and lettuce on whole wheat,” Sheldon explicitly describes and continues, “It’s the right ingredients but in the wrong order.  In a proper sandwich, the cheese is adjacent to the bread to create a moisture barrier against the lettuce.  They might as well drag this thing to a carwash.”  Leonard protests, “I don’t believe it!”  And Sheldon couldn’t help but agree, “I know!  It’s basic culinary science.”

That was exactly how I felt with the sandwich that I had in my hands while watching “The Time Traveler’s Wife” last Friday.  Starbucks Coffee Company® calls it (something like) their Chicken and Ham with Gruyere in Turkish Bread.  Sounded fancy.  Sounded yummy.  And sounded like a good enough alternative to my usual Hungarian Sausage with Eggwhite and Cheese in Ciabatta which was already sold out at the time.

The premise of the sandwich was actually great.  It was the gruyere that got me.  I love love love gruyere cheese, one of the two cheeses in my macaroni and cheese recipe.  Now slap that together with chicken and ham, all together in a visually appealing black-and-white-sesame-seed studded crusty bun and I guess I’d have a winner right there!

But with my first bite – as the opening credits of the movie started rolling – Sheldon’s predicament came to mind.  While on its own the flattened chicken fillet in the middle of my sandwich was really moist and flavorful – redolent with smoky hints of cumin – the rest was a disaster.  The worst was the absence of that “moisture barrier” that left the bottom of my sandwich badly soaked in extra virgin olive oil and the tomato-based dressing.

I ended up just sipping – really slowly, as if rationing out to my own self a really scarce commodity! – my Mocha Frappucino with Raspberry Syrup.  I’d usually get this in the Dark Mocha variant.  But sadly, that too was unavailable.

Too bad Pepper Lunch was packed full when I stopped by.  Oh well, it wasn’t my day.  At least the movie saved it from being a total bore.





Peppery & Spidey

6 08 2009

FINALLY, I was able to bring something peppery and someone Spidey together!

Being one of my staunchest best friends, Spider-man has been keeping me company through my ordeals.  Remember the greeting I made him for his birthday?

Spider-man - Pepper Lunch 04

Peppery & Spider together!

This week, since I have been egging him on for days on end to join me for a “Pepper Lunch” meal – and since he knew I’ve been bracing for August 5th – he finally joined me at the newly opened branch at Town.  This would be my fourth time at the said “fast steak” place.  I’ve harped about my joy already here, here, and here.

Spider-man - Pepper Lunch 01

Going through the rather extensive menu

Never someone to make me feel or think that he’s like some people who take advantage of me (HAHAHA!), Spider-man was insisting to try just the Double Beef Pepper Rice (Php 246.00 a la carte).  Never someone to make my superhero friends feel or think that I’m not giving them the best (things I myself love), I insisted that he should try at least the Shimofuri Pepper Steak (Php 570.00 a la carte).  Guess who won the debate!

Spider-man - Pepper Lunch 05

Spidey getting ready to sizzle it his way!

 

Spider-man - Pepper Lunch 06

My yummy Double Beef Pepper Rice. I was told I could make this "triple" beef the next time! Wow!

As usual, Pepper Lunch didn’t disappoint.  And Friendship will be happy to note that the quality of the food and the service is consistent.

Spider-man - Pepper Lunch 02

Fine steak, great value!

I think Spider-man was a happy camper.  He was so full that he just decided to have his Molten Chocolate Cake (Php 120.00) to-go.

Spider-man - Pepper Lunch 00

Corte de las Palmas at Town. Pepper Lunch is on the second level, between Cibo and Recipes.





Stare. Spread. Flip. Enjoy.

28 07 2009

I’VE NEVER gushed unabashedly about anything since Cupcakes by Sonja.  Until now.  All I could talk about at work yesterday was Pepper Lunch.

To think that at the time all I’d had was just the Double Beef Pepper Rice!

Pepper Lunch - Logo

Sizzle it your way!

 

Pepper Lunch - Signage

Look for this for good steak! That's the Pepper Lunch signage at their newly opened Alabang Town Center branch!

So to make good on the personal targets I had set last week (“targets” – oh it sounds so SONA-ish…  hahaha!), I returned to Pepper Lunch at Alabang Town Center after office hours yesterday.  I invited a couple of friends to this gustatory adventure – Brother (a steak authority himself) and Francis.

We asked for two Tokusen Rib Eye Steaks (Php 585.00* each, a la carte) and one Shimofuri Pepper Steak (Php 570.00* a la carte).  We made our accompaniment the Mixed Pepper Rice.  And we had to cap a fabulous dinner with luscious desserts – the Molten Chocolate Cake A La Mode and the Vanilla Crepe Cake A La Mode.

Pepper Lunch - Francis's Tokusen Rib Eye

Francis's Tokusen Rib Eye Steak!

I stared

The moment the patented sizzling plates hit the table, the first thought that cropped up in my head – as if carried by the gusts of steam – was “truth in advertising.”  Up to that point, I had actually saved up – for these steaks – whatever capability I had for understanding for a day.  I mean, I would have understood if they were smaller in actuality against how they appeared on the menu.  But they sure weren’t!  The Tokusen Rib Eye Steak was cut considerably thick and looked really fresh, red and every inch the tender and nicely “fat” cut of beef rib eye is supposed to be.  As for the Shimofuri, I have to say that I’ve never seen something marbled with fat so prettily.

Pepper Lunch - Brother's Tokusen Rib Eye 00

Brother's Tokusen Ribe Eye Steak!

Pepper Lunch - eNTeNG's Shimofuri Steak 01

My Shimofuri Pepper Steak!

I spread

As if an homage to my unabashed enthusiasm for cupcakes of days gone by, a “kiss” of a tan-colored cream sat on top of the reddish pink meat, seemingly piped in place by a pastry bag with a floral tip.  “This must be the special, unique butter that I need to spread on the steak as it cooks,” I said to myself.  So spread I did!  I felt the creaminess of the “unique” butter as I distribute it on top of the meat, noting how poetic it melted and cascaded down the developing crust that was the sides of the meat.

Pepper Lunch - Brother's Tokusen Rib Eye 01

The Tokusen Rib Eye Steak flipped to the other side.

I flipped

As the molten butter sizzled, flowing perfectly into the fat that had earlier been hissing already on the sizzling plate, I glided the tines of the fork carefully under the steak, not wanting to pierce the seared meat.  With one quick action, I flipped each cut to sear the other side.  More hissing action ensued.  In two minutes, I had no other choice but to move towards satisfying my craving.

Pepper Lunch - eNTeNG's Shimofuri Steak 02

Halfway through to enjoying the Shimofuri Pepper Steak.

I enjoyed

With the orange chopsticks, I picked up one cut of my Shimofuri steak and put it in my mouth, being very careful not to burn my tongue.  And I have to say, Pepper Lunch’s Shimofuri steak has got to be one of the most tender steaks I have ever had.  I was preparing myself to chew, only to realize that I didn’t even have to.  The meat literally felt like soft butter in my mouth.  In describing some of my successful gastronomic adventures, I would be holding back in saying something as “literally melting in my mouth.”  But the steak I had at Pepper Lunch deserved nothing less for a description.  And I liked it the way it was, just flavored with the fragrant outermost shell of black pepper that the store prepared for the day.  In between bites of the meat, I helped myself to the generous heap of high quality mung bean sprouts and the mixed pepper rice I had in the bowl on my hand.

Pepper Lunch - eNTeNG's Shimofuri Steak 03

Just the way I like my steak - seared but kept moist and juicy, and pink in the center. Apparently, cooking on the high heat available thru Pepper Lunch's patented sizzling plate does just that!

To cap this unforgettable steak dinner, I made good on yet another promise – to try the desserts!  I asked for a la mode renditions of the Vanilla Crepe Cake and the Molten Chocolate Cake.

The Vanilla Crepe Cake was a patient work of art.  Imagine thin layers of crepe piled one on top of another, separated only by the subtle hint of vanilla-flavored cream in between.  I’ve loved crepes so much that whenever I’d have it, what I would actually do is remove the filling and just enjoy the very thin, very light pancake.  Thanks to Pepper Lunch’s Vanilla Crepe Cake, I got to live this “fantasy” dessert many many layers over!

Pepper Lunch - Vanilla Crepe Cake 00

The Vanilla Crepe Cake!

 

Pepper Lunch - Vanilla Crepe Cake 01

Now one of my fave desserts - Pepper Lunch's Vanilla Crepe Cake!

With a name like Molten Chocolate Cake, I expected a cake that at the very least, should be warm.  And I wasn’t disappointed.  Pepper Lunch’s version was so much more – perfectly “half-baked”, slathered – no! – blanketed with good chocalte fudge, and dusted with (I think) chocolate or coffee powder.  I turned into a giddy kid armed with a teaspoon.  I aimed for the domed cake top, pierced it, and waited for the molten chocolate to ooze out.  I took a good teaspoonful of everything and tasted what could very well be the best cake Php 120.00 (a la carte) could buy.  I closed my eyes and dreamt away.

Pepper Lunch - Molten Chocolate Cake 00

Molten Chocolate Cake

 

Pepper Lunch - Molten Chocolate Cake 01

The molten chocolate seeps out of the Molten Chocolate Cake!

Brother and Francis had to wake me up.  The desserts were that good!

Pepper Lunch - Ice Cream

Our desserts were "a la mode" so we had two of these - the lovely (vanilla) ice cream!

 

Pepper Lunch - Official Receipt

"Clark" (that's my "coffee name") has a new favorite - Pepper Lunch!

 

Pepper Lunch - Order Slips

I forgot to get Brothers "dish up" slip before his tray was taken away.

*a la carte prices corrected from previous post





Now this is sizzling hot

27 07 2009

  

I WANTED to be gentle on myself because it was going to be my first time.

Pepper Lunch - Double Beef Pepper Rice 00

Pepper Lunch's Double Beef Pepper Rice. Sizzle it your way!

To dine at Pepper Lunch, that is!  (You naughty kids!  Hahaha!)   So, to be “gentle” on myself – meaning, not panic at the sight of the restaurant’s patented hot plate – I did my research.  I spoke to and asked tips from Friendship, who has been an avowed loyal patron at the original Rockwell branch from when it opened.  I also checked out the restaurant’s official website where I surprisingly found a video on “how to sizzle it.”

So, armed with my knowledge and buoyed up by flashing scrumptious scenes of steak as it sizzles – not to mention being given a “kwento-filled” ride to the place by Spidey – I resolved to make my initiation to Pepper Lunch a filling experience.  But first, I realized I had to get some cash (it was just the restaurant’s second day of operations at the Alabang Town Center, so, cash only!).  After two “unable to dispense amount” error messages at the BPI ATM terminals at the one outside Rustan’s Department Store and at the one right in front of Bench™, my sizzling dreams seemed to have been losing steam.  Begrudgingly, I dragged my feet to the one on the second level, to the side of the escalator landing, and summoned the powers of my lucky stars to make three times the charm.  And the stars conspired when I saw my transactions go through and see all the moolah that was spat out.  Hahaha!

With cash on hand, I turned around from the machine and finally, I took the steps that would bring me closer to realizing the yummy steak dreams that had been haunting me for nights on end.  I proceeded with really gingerly footwork over the tiled floor, with full consciousness that every step I took was bringing me closer to Corte de las Palmasthat higher-end fashion store and restaurant strip – where the dream’s I’d been having would take a tangible form.  My heart was throbbing so much from the excitement that I felt it would tear my chest open.

But before I would have burst an artery, happiness took over at the doorstep of Pepper Lunch.  “Happiness”… which at that very moment meant having my place by the counter as I waited for my turn.  The personnel who greeted me with a smile so warm it could part clouds on any overcast day, saw my emotion as I was having trouble trying to conceal it.  I mumbled beneath a beaming face, “It’s my first time here.  And I’m thinking Tokusen Ribe Eye or Shimofuri Pepper steak.”  He was very helpful in walking me through my options and later convinced me that the best way to start a Pepper Lunch experience was to take the “Beef Pepper Rice” route – their bestseller, which was also the cheapest on the menu at Php 198.00 a la carte.  I started with a terrible hankering for “steak” so I asked that they make mine “Double Beef Pepper Rice!”  With miso soup and Sprite, my meal set me back by Php 334.00.  The additional “Mixed Pepper Rice” that I ordered later was Php 85.00, and was taken care of by the Staff – they were gracious enough to not let me fall in line at the counter again.

Pepper Lunch - Double Beef Pepper Rice 01

Double Beef Pepper Rice!

I took my place at table# 64 and waited for my “Double Beef Pepper Rice” – I just can’t stop saying it over and over again!  I looked around and was amazed by the lovely interiors.  Yes, Pepper Lunch may be a “fast” steakhouse but they are not about to sacrifice on the décor.  I love the cozy and calming effect the predominantly orange interiors have.  And something has to be said about the lamps that hang above each table.  Lovely!

Pepper Lunch - Double Beef Pepper Rice 03

A close-up shot of my Double Beef Pepper Rice. It was a challenge to take details photos with all the steam coming out from the food!

In a couple of minutes my order finally arrived and I actually thought my side-swept bangs would frizz as the sizzling plate hits the table.  Hahaha!  But I couldn’t care less about my hair – not with such a pretty platter staring at me!  The first thing I noticed was that a paper ring forts up around the patented sizzling plate.  Actually more a quick instructional guide than a fortification for the yummy-ness inside it, the paper ring warns not to touch the plate as it is very hot, while providing steps on how to “cook” the pepper rice.

On the center of the plate lies Japanese rice molded into a mound.  On top of it are a generous helping of plump, sweet corn kernels and chopped spring onions.  A sharp contrast to the white grain, bright yellow kernels, and deep green shoots is the liberal dusting of black pepper.  And next to the steak, it is actually the black pepper – more exactly how Pepper Lunch romanticized it – that has attracted me to the place:  “Flavoured with Black Pepper that we prepare every morning using only the outer shell of the peppercorn, which is most fragrant.”  The description is enough to make me want to puff myself with their black pepper.  Hahaha!

Pepper Lunch - Pepper Lunch Black Pepper 01

I'll never look at black pepper the same way again... "Flavoured with Black Pepper that we prepare every morning using only the outer shell of the peppercorn, which is most fragrant."

You already know how much of a wannabe chef I am.  And with Pepper Lunch’s substantial spoon and fork in hand, I began to mix my Double Beef Pepper Rice.  I started by flipping the strips of beef to cook both sides.  I loved it that the meat was laced with just the right amount of fat.  I want it that way for two things – the flavor it imparts to the dish and the moisture it helps retain.  After giving each strip of meat the once over, I zoomed into the rice.  I pierced it with the fork and noticed the whiff of steam that gust out.  Clearly, the mound shape of the rice caused steam to build up inside, where – again, per the paper ring – butter and sauce lie in the middle.  I mixed the rice and the beef together and noticed just how more and more fragrant the dish was becoming.

Pepper Lunch - Double Beef Pepper Rice 04

A closer look at the pepper rice halfway through my mixing.

 

Pepper Lunch - Mixed Pepper Rice 00

My mixed pepper rice. Look at those plump, full grains of the Japanese rice! Yummy!

 

Pepper Lunch - Double Beef Pepper Rice 05

I'm done mixing my Double Beef Pepper Rice! Look at those pretty orange chopsticks. Remember, they are NOT meant to be taken home with you!

I replaced the spoon and fork with Pepper Lunch’s orange chopsticks and ate away.  The beef was really tender and was the perfect doneness.  It was not yet the “steak cut” yet I didn’t have to struggle – even for a bit – with the meat.  The rice was another story altogether.  It was so flavorful!  The butter and the sauce did a great job in complementing the “fragrant” pungency of the pepper.  Even if it posed quite a challenge, I stuck to using the chopsticks as I intended to leisurely savor my first experience.  With each digging – almost shoveling – action, I’d get as much rice that I could pile up in a heap.  Halfway through, the fact that I hadn’t yet used any of the condiments available tome – save for some more of the peppercorn outer shells – was testament to the right balance of seasoning that had gone to my plate.  But since I eventually wanted an as-complete first time as I could, I eventually doused the beef with the “honey brown” sauce and found it to provide the beef a coy sweetness that left my tongue teased and wanting for more with each bite.

Pepper Lunch - Pepper Lunch Sizzling Plate 01

Wiped clean! That's my sizzling plate where a Double Beef Pepper Rice once was!

 

Pepper Lunch - Pepper Lunch Sizzling Plate 00

Like a burried treasure, the Pepper Lunch logo lies beneath, at the bottom of the plate. Now that's one sure way to tell you're eating only at the place that knows their steak!

After I had literally wiped my plate clean, I had to pause and ruminate on the filling meal that I just had.  Without a doubt, Pepper Lunch is all about the freshest and the best ingredients.  I’m not privy to the details of where they get their meat and their rice but one thing’s for sure – they are not about to compromise on the quality of the food that they offer to their adoring public.  In times like this, when all people could think about is the “recession,” it would be expected for some restaurants to cut back on cost at the expense of the quality of their food – and ultimately, at the expense of their customers’ satisfaction.  But not Pepper Lunch.

And speaking of what they offer, I gave the menu a glance back – this time a wide-sweeping view in cinematic slow motion – and just found myself salivating over the images of the Tokusen Rib Eye Steak (Php 625.00 a la carte) and the Shimofuri Pepper Steak (Php 610.00 a la carte).  I made a mental note to come back and try these.  I’d be more confident on what to do with them as my initial foray into the world of the sizzling pepper rice – meaning, how to “cook” them table top – was considerably a success.  Another mental note I took down was to try some of their desserts.  The Vanilla Crepe Cake and the Molten Milk Chocolate Cake just sound so divine to ignore a second time around.

Pepper Lunch - Interiors

Pepper Lunch - Alabang Town Center's cozy interiors. I love the lamps!

 

Pepper Lunch - Kitchen

From the counter - a view of the very clean kitchen.

I texted Friendship to let her know about how my first Pepper Lunch experience turned out.  “Thank you” was in order since she was the first ever person to tell me about this.

And I just had to text the Justice League and Spidey that I’d be glad to buy them “steak dinner” at Pepper Lunch should all our schedules permit it.

If only all “first times” could be this good that you’d want to tell everybody about it.  HAHAHA!

Pepper Lunch - Pepper Lunch Facade 01

Congratulations to Pepper Lunch - Alabang Town Center!

 

Pepper Lunch - eNTeNG's Order 00

My order!

 

Pepper Lunch - eNTeNG's Order 01

Do not touch the plate as it is very hot!

 

Pepper Lunch - eNTeNG's Order 03 Directions

Hurry!! Mix them up! - Actually, Pepper Lunch had me at "butter" and "sauce". Hahaha!

 

Alabang Town Center - Corte de las Palmas 00

Corte de las Palmas

 

Alabang Town Center - Corte de las Palmas 01

A lot seems to have changed at Alabang Town Center from my last visit. I found Corte de las Palmas to have this illusion of a greater expanse! Good thing Pepper Lunch brought me back!