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. Banana Leaf & 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 stove so she could help cook. Many dishes such as Kayang - coconut jam takes 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 would have fresh herbs, spice and ingredients, and would spend hours in the kitchen preparing a great meal for the family. And Kay is always the little cook assistant for her mother. And Kay picks up the recipes and mentality of fine & authentic Malaysian cooking.
Cooking authentic food is a process that starts well before the kitchen. Just like when she was a little girl helping her mother, Kay goes to the market to select the ingredients for her restaurants now. The spices must be perfect, and all the ingredients must be available. Spices such as turmeric, galangal, kaffir lime leaf, sambal, tamarind, lemongrass, Laksa flower & etc are 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 working in restaurants during college. Working in the restaurants and bars to pay for her tuition and living expenses 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 graduated from college, Kay went to work in the computer industry. After six years in the industry, from marketing, sales to purchasing, 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 with the support of her husband, David, and Banana Leaf was born in Milpitas in 1999 and in 2017, Black Pepper was born in Menlo Park .
Four years after Kay opened Banana Leaf in 1999, her husband David quit his engineering job of 16 years and joined his wife in the restaurant. David was a talented Chef and he has preparing meals for church’s events & wedding receptions for brothers & sisters in the past. And he picked up Malaysian cooking very quickly. David started off learning how to cook under Kay’s tutelage, and very soon became the Executive Chef running the kitchen of Banana Leaf & Black Pepper. 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 Kay’s mother’s kitchen.