My first visit to Japan in 2000 fresh out of the Y2K worries was a dizzying array of tastes and smells. Combine that with the Pokemon fuelled blinking lights and it was a sensory seizure in the making — sometimes it was just too much.
Pepper Lunch kind of became my saviour. Between that and Orijin Bento I could manage a full meal without wondering what was in it, or how I might politely not finish my dinner.
After buying a ticket from a picture coded vending machine I sat at the counter and tried to take some queues from the local.
Super hot cast iron pan comes out with rice, meat and sprouts. Spray thin special sauce all over everything. Use chopsticks to stir everything around and cook it on the insanely hot pan. Use paper placemat to fan meal and shield yourself from flying hot liquid. Check.
The food here is absolutely delicious. Thin sliced beef, lightly crisped fried Japanese rice, sprouts and corn. All cooked right in front of yourself, by yourself.
Pepper Lunch is as much a meal as it is an activity. While PL is a chain located all around Tokyo, it is best enjoyed under the tracks near the Hachiko exit of the Shibuya train station.
I have no idea why it is called Pepper Lunch.
Chris Stenberg is a Canadian travel photographer, filmmaker and researcher. When he’s not wielding a camera or raising a family you can find him running, biking and boarding in the mountains or eating an apple under a tree in an orchard.