1029 El Camino Real, Menlo Park, CA 650-485-2345
Black Pepper - Southeast Asian Cuisine
A fantastic blend of Southeast Asian ingredients, spice & herbs, making Black Pepper a delicious & fun place to visit.
Black Pepper’s heritage is a delightful diversity Malay, Thai, Indian and Chinese.
Come, share this exciting and unique Tropical Malaysian and Thai experience in the Peninsula with us!
Kay is the heart and soul of our kitchen. Black Pepper is the result of her dream of creating a true authentic Malaysian food restaurant. When many chef’s talk about how they learned to cook authentic Malaysian, Thai, Indian, or Chinese food their story starts after they became Chefs. Kay’s story starts when she was a very little girl cooking in the kitchen with her mother. Kay’s mother would place a stool next to the oven so she could help cook. Many dishes such as proper coconut jam take 3-4 hours to prepare and require constant attention.
Kay did not learn how to cook recipes for a restaurant setting, she learned family recipes. Her teacher was her mother who cooked these incredible dishes every day for her family. She drilled into Kay that you always do it the right way, you never take a shortcut, everything must be fresh. When Kay cooks she is not just following a recipe from a book, she is cooking from her heart.
Cooking authentic food is a process that starts well before the kitchen. Just like when she was a little girl with her mother, Kay goes to the market to select the ingredients. The spices must be perfect, and all the ingredients must be available. When a dish can take hours to prepare you cannot run out because you forgot something. Spices such as turmeric, galangal, kassir limes, sambal, tamarind, lemongrass, and Laksa flour all find their place in our dishes.
Learning how to cook on dishes that require hours of preparation with constant attention has carried through all areas of her life and inspired in her a passion to serve. Kay learned the restaurant industry while serving in restaurants during college. Working to paying for her tuition provided her the valuable experience to understand all areas of restaurant operation. This also brought her great joy as bringing people their food, and seeing their enjoyment upon eating made her happy.
After graduation Kay went to work for a Taiwanese computer company. She worked to create imaging software that was used to scan products. After six years in IT, Kay decided she missed the restaurant environment. She missed cooking. She missed serving people. She missed the daily interactions and making people happy. Kay decided to open her own restaurant, and black pepper was born.
Four years later her husband David quit his engineering job of 16 years and joined wife in the kitchen. David was an experienced Chef and great for carrying the heavy pots according to Kay, but he had to be taught how to cook authentic recipes. David started off learning how to cook under Kays tutelage, and now helps her run the kitchen. Now this husband and wife team can be seen running around the kitchen stirring, chopping, and making sure every dish has the same authentic taste as if it was made years ago in Kays mothers kitchen.