If you’ve strolled down Trigo Road to get to the Amazon Locker or I.V. Theater, you couldn’t have missed Sizzling Lunch’s huge vibrant menu on their storefront windows. Sizzling Lunch replaced 212 Hot Pot and although the interior may look the same, Sizzling Lunch brought a Bay Area favorite to Isla Vista with its adaptation of teppanyaki, a style of Japanese cuisine that uses an iron griddle to cook food.
I’ve visited the restaurant twice since its opening, and both of my experiences were extremely pleasant. What makes Sizzling Lunch stand out from other food spots in I.V. is not only their delicious food but also their exceptional service. After my friends and I were seated, our waiter was happy to give us recommendations and was very attentive even after we got our food. I appreciated that there were photos that corresponded to each menu item for those who might not have had teppanyaki before. At Sizzling Lunch, the teppanyaki is comprised of beef, chicken or salmon with black pepper rice, udon noodles, golden curry or teriyaki sauce. Each dish comes with rice or noodles, meat, a small selection of vegetables and a ball of butter. The meat doesn’t come fully cooked but since plate is extremely hot, the customer is supposed to mix and cook all ingredients together themselves and complement it with the side condiments like chili powder, garlic shoyu and teriyaki sauce.
During my first visit, I tried the curry beef rice with cheese. Overall, I thought the beef, rice and side sauces paired perfectly together, making it a great meal to grab with friends. The only thing I don’t like about it is the anticipation you get when you’re waiting for your food to stop smoking and cool down a bit because it seriously makes you sit there and salivate. The portion sizes were very reasonable for the price, especially in I.V. It does remind me of fried rice that I could easily make by myself at home, but the novelty of eating this dish from a sizzling plate and the convenience of how fast the food comes out makes eating at Sizzling Lunch worth your time and money. The second time I visited I wanted to try something different, so I decided to order the beef udon. This dish came with almost the same ingredients as the rice plate I ordered during my first visit, except with udon noodles instead of rice and without curry powder. I also thought it was really savory and tasty, but I’d say that I like the rice plates better just as a personal preference. Something that I noticed is that I didn’t really taste a difference from when my dish had curry powder and when it didn’t, so if you’re debating between the curry beef udon and the regular beef udon, I’d just go for the regular and save a bit of money while you’re at it.
After trying Sizzling Lunch twice, I’d definitely recommend it to everyone. Though it seems like such simple dishes, they truly are delicious and the staff makes you feel welcome by always checking up on you. The curry beef rice with cheese is a must-try dish, and condiments like the garlic shoyu and chili powder are necessary if you want to maximize the flavor of your dish. Since it just opened up, Sizzling Lunch is pretty packed during peak lunch and dinner hours, so I’d recommend going during less busy times, especially if you’re planning to eat with a large group of people.