I had never tried Pepper Lunch, but at our tasting for Teppan Kitchen through ChineseBites, there were plenty of comparisons being made. However, since I hadn’t been, this was not a concern for me at all. We were slated to try 9 dishes in total, so I made sure to come hungry!
First of all, let me say that this isn't a proper restaurant. It's a food court stall in the Harbour Centre, catering to the Simon Fraser University students and other office workers nearby. The deal is to get the food out, fast, hot and good. No real extra points added for presentation or customer service.
Our first dish was the Citrus Grilled Pork Cheek Teppan Rice (added cheese + egg), which was a novelty to be, because although I’ve had fried egg in rice (and on pasta and pizza) before, I had never had cheese in my rice before. I was hesitant but was shockingly surprised. I actually really like this…the cheese and the egg gave the sauce a creaminess that I hadn’t experienced before. It is definitely a heavy dish, but if you’re a student looking for sustenance, this fits the bill!
Second up was the Hainanese Chicken with Rice. Now this dish is loaded with memories for me, as I remember having this dish as a kid in HK. The chicken always was moist and the rice had a nice oiliness to it that the rice my mom made (at home) never did. Now I know it’s fat that makes the rice so good, but I don’t care. The chicken was really tender and the plentiful chilli and ginger-green onion sauces were great too. Unfortunately, the rice was a bit overcooked, probably due to the fact that they had to cook it in a big batch. I would recommend using long-grain rice for this dish to maintain the integrity of the grains. (since it wasn’t served “teppan style” anyways).
And then we had the 'A' Grade Rib Eye Beef Teppan Rice (added cheese + egg). The beef in this dish was a bit tougher than the pork but mostly, the dishes were quite similar. There was a bit more pepper on this dish, but otherwise, it was interchangeable for me.
Ok, we're a third way through! The fourth dish wasn't a rice at all, but rather, we had the Seafood Linguine with Tomato Sauce. Now this was unexpected. There were loads of baby scallops in the dish, and the pasta was perfectly al dente. I also liked that there was enough sauce to go around everything.
Our fifth dish was back to rice, but not a teppan dish, rather, it was the Curry Beef Brisket with Rice. I will be the first to admit that I’m not a curry fan, but out of all nine dishes we tried, this is the one that I had seconds (or thirds) of. The beef brisket was so tender and the rice was just a perfect complement to the whole dish. I surprised myself by how much I really liked this dish.
The sixth dish went the noodle route again, with a westernized version of Wok Fried Udon with Chicken & Spicy Sausage. Now, if you’re looking for an authentic Japanese udon dish, this isn’t it. But if you’re looking for something packed with flavours in an American style, then, you’re in for a treat. However, beware, this baby is spicy!
Ok, time for another break...rounding up the last third. We had another pasta dish with their Smoked Salmon Linguine with Citrus Cream Sauce. Okay, I have to be honest, this was not one of my faves. It was creamy and just a bit too rich for me. Perhaps because we already had seven dishes. However, I have to say that I found it a bit too salty as well.
The next was an interesting blend of Western flavours and Asian ingredients. Have you ever tried Beef Bolognese Rice with Corn & Egg? Well, I admit I probably have, in a desperate attempt at remaking them as bastardized leftovers. The combination was actually really pleasant, almost validating the midnight snacks I used to make. For some reason, the sauce on this came off a bit sour though.
And finally, the finisher was the Seafood Laksa Noodle Soup, with a mix of noodles and udon. The dish definitely had some of my faves. I really liked how it was loaded with seafood such as shrimp and fish balls. But the refreshing bean sprouts and tofu were appreciated too. What really surprised me was the blend of rice noodles and udon…I did not expect that, and despite my initial misgivings, I actually enjoyed the mixture of textures.
This is a great place to grab a quick made-to-order meal. Priced right for students and office workers alike. And there's enough variety of flavours for everyone.
Tuesday, May 10, 2016
Tuesday, May 03, 2016
A few months ago, yet another ramen place opened in Vancouver. Ramen Gojiro wasn't in the usual ramen hotbed of the Denman/Robson area. As with most new ramen places, there are lineups down the street. This was no different. Fortunately, Sean arrived early enough to beat the crowd and when Sherman and I showed up, our table was ready.This is the Basic Bakamori, (with Chashu) but there is nothing basic about this gigantic bowl of noodles. The broth is a blend of pork and chicken, and their slightly thicker than usual noodles are made in house. Essentially, bakamori just means "more", and as their menu says, it's more meat, more noodles...more everything!
The Chashu was sliced quite generously, and wasn't overly fatty. What surprised me, despite the picture on the menu was the abundance of bean sprouts! I was also overwhelmed at the size of the bowl, almost toppling out of the bowl. The broth had a sweet flavour, but it was overpowered by the garlic topping. It really was just too much.
Once you manage to get to the ramen itself, they were cooked just to my liking. Since the noodles seemed a bit thicker, it was chewy yet tender. This is the normal sized Spicy Chashu. As you can see, the chili in the broth is apparent and there is considerably less bean sprouts as well. However, it was still pretty garlicky and seemed to overpower the spiciness that the could have been there. There is heat, for sure, but not overly so. The egg was cooked to a nice soft boil, and the yolk helped to thicken the soup. This is the Spicy Karaage, with the same soup with as the Chashu one, just replaced with Karaage. I'm not a huge fan of crispy food served in soup, sort of like cripsy BBQ Duck in noodle soup. I always request it on the side. I like my cripsy food to stay crunchy, for as long as possible. However, once it arrives, if you take the chicken out, you might just be okay. Or, you can order the Chicken Karaage as a side order, which is what we did. I found it just a touch oily and he batter was very crispy. It was a bit bland and could have benefited from a heavier hand with the seasoning. The chicken was tender and juicy, and makes a nice side dish. Our other side dish was the Gyoza. These were decent but actually oilier than the karaage. It was juicy and had a nice crispy skin. Nothing spectacular, pretty average but with a good filling to wrapper ratio.