When I was on my honeymoon in Singapore, my husband’s eyes lit up when he saw a Pepper Lunch at a food court we were at. Basically you are entrusted with a hot skillet of raw meat with a mound of rice, corn, and butter in the center, and you mix it all around and cook it yourself. It’s fun and tasty! There’s a video of the process here. I was not that adventurous of an eater at the time and ordered something boring from another kiosk, and it wasn’t until many years later that were in Hong Kong that I fell in love with Pepper Lunch. How could I not? Beef and tonnes of pepper? Yes please. And the corn adds a surprising sweet note to the savory sauces.

I remember sitting in a packed food court in Hong Kong last year and a mom and her daughter were walking around with their sizzling plate trying to find a seat. When they eventually did, they still didn’t stir their meal, wandered off to buy a drink, and by then it had long stopped smoking and hissing (ie it was no longer cooking). I love this fast food joint so much, I would seriously consider opening it in North America, but then I wonder about people giving themselves 3rd degree burns (the plates are heated to 500 degrees). At any rate, it looks like there is one location here in the US now in Milpitas, CA – so anyone near there seriously needs to try it out, but protect your kiddos’ curious fingers.


The secret is a cast iron skillet and lots and lots of fresh cracked pepper. The meat they traditionally use is short plate cut, which is fatty beef belly, but I never remember to pick it up when I’m at the Asian supermarket. My local big box grocery store has nothing of the sort so I buy flank steak or whatever is leftover in the case since I shop so late at night. I learned from Hungry Monkey that putting your cut in the freezer for half an hour while raw, then slicing it across the grain will let you create those thin, thin slices. There, no need to buy pre-sliced, sub-par beef for stir fry.

I’ve always bought low sodium canned corned, but now I realize that buying frozen corn eliminates the need for anything to preserve it in the can, eliminates a possibly BPA-lined can, and it will probably have been picked at the peak of its freshness and frozen immediately, which yields more nutrients.

Here’s the recipe for home, adapted from food blog pepper.ph.

Ingredients for the Beef Pepper Rice

  • 1 lb short plate cut beef (thinly sliced)
  • 3 cups cooked Japanese rice
  • 1 cup corn kernels
  • 1/2 tsp freshly crushed pepper
  • 2 tsp cooking oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp chopped spring onions
  • steak rub: 1/2 tsp salt,1 tsp cracked ground pepper and 1/2 tsp garlic powder

Ingredients for the Honey Sauce (Amakuchi

  • 1 tbsp cooking oil
  • 2 tbsp chopped onion
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1-2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup oyster sauce (optional)
  • 1/8 tsp iodized salt
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup water

Procedure for the Honey Sauce

  1. Mix together all ingredients in a sauce pan and boil for 3-5 minutes or until garlic and onions are soft.
  2. Puree in blender and transfer to sauce bottles.

Ingredients for the Garlic Soy Sauce (Karakuchi)

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 4 large cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup water

Procedure for the Garlic Soy Sauce

  1. Marinate raw garlic in the soy sauce for 30 minutes.
  2. Add in the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil for one minute.
  3. Turn off heat immediately.
  4. Puree in blender and transfer to sauce bottles.


  1. Make sure that the beef is completely thawed. Dredge in steak rub.
  2. Heat cast iron skillet on high flame until it smokes.
  3. Put half of the steamed rice (while still hot) in the middle.
  4. Turn off heat (if you don’t have a gas stove, like me, I leave the heat on medium. If you don’t have a cast iron skillet, leave the heat on medium and add the butter to the pan now).
  5. While skillet is still on the element, scatter beef around the rice. Mix, mix, mix!
  6. Top with 1 tbsp of salted butter.
  7. Top with half the corn, 1/4 teaspoon cracked pepper pepper and half the spring onions. Serve immediately with the two sauces on the side.
  8. Repeat the same procedure for the second serving.