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!





For those about to sizzle!

24 07 2009

THIS IS as much a shoutout as it is an homage to Friendship who has been egging me on to try Pepper Lunch from when it first opened in Rockwell in mid-2008.

Pepper Lunch has finally sizzled its way to Alabang Town Center!

From style maverick and icon herself, Chuvaness, Pepper Lunch has finally opened last night.  It is at Corte de las Palmas, 2nd level, Alabang Town Center (between Cibo and Recipes).

I THINK IT IS HIGH TIME THAT I GATHER THE JUSTICE LEAGUE – AND SPIDER-MAN – AND BRING THEM ALL THERE!