February 19, 2015
We’ve tried a lot of pizza in our time in Korea. Some of it is great, some of it is alright, and some of it is totally awful. Ordering pizza in Korea can be a major tastebud gamble as you never know what will be hiding on your pizza. I’m serious when I say people with allergies should be aware when ordering pizza in Korea because the pictures on the website or the flyers might just lie to you. We’ve ordered Pizza Supremes because it came with mushrooms just to discover, nope. No mushroom. Nope, doesn’t matter if you call them back, pictures are often not true for many many places. Also, corn will come hidden in every orifice of your pizza when it was never listed in the ingredients to begin with. One of our favourite phrases in Korean is actually, “please, no corn”. Also, there is an obsessions with sweet pickles being served with every pizza (and with all your pasta). Our theory for that is simply that Korean people are used to side dishes or even kimchi being served with every meal so the pickles act as a stand in. But why sweet pickles? Why sweet corn? Why must the tomato sauce be sweet? Why sweet cheese? WHY!!??? *AHEM*
That being said, we’ve had lots of good Korean pizzas. In our building, right below our studio, is arguably the best pizza in Korea, Monster Pizza. It’s fantastic–although I will say it’s based off of the North American pizza experience offering just three to four types of pizza: cheese, pepperoni, pepperoni with jalepeno, or a hidden menu cheddar bacon jalepeno pizza. There are some Korean style pizza chains we’re ok with as well. Pizza School has a nice and cheap spicy chicken pizza and Martina likes their pepperoni too…just make sure you tell them to hold the corn. Even Pizza Hut or Dominos can make a good single topping pizza, just have a healthy fear of the multi-topping special zone pizzas.
I think one of the things we’ve realized is that Korean pizza chains compete to have new pizzas on their menu constantly. Every pizza chain in Korea offers their take on a seafood laden pizza and some are better than others. Every chain in Korea has a pizza with a sweet potato mousse stuffing in the crust. Currently the cover-everything-in-four-cheese craze is happening. All the chains offer some monstrosity of a pizza made with dried cranberry sprinkled meat coated hide some nuts in there sprinkled dough thingy. I’ve never seen a pizza chain back in Canada have so many new types of pizzas come and go. Changing the pizza flavours in Korea is like a seasonal and holiday thing. Valentine’s pizza, christmas pizza, white day pizza… My favourite chain pizza in Canada is either Gino’s Pizza or Pizza Nova and while I’ve never seen Pizza Nova change their menu, Gino’s pizza has some unusual but yummy pizzas. Like olive oil and spinach pizza with feta and cheddar cheese. It’s delicious and garlicky! Or the potato pizza made with super thin potato slices served on an olive oil base with a little sprinkling of parmesan cheese? Oh man drooooooolllllll! But they’ve been serving that pizza since I was a kid. They’ve perfected this pizza. I feel like Korean pizza chains are just dumping a bunch of stuff together to compete with one another rather than make a really good pizza. I seem very passionate about this and that’s because I LOVE PIZZA. I LOVE BREAD. I LOVE CHEESE. Pizza brings all my favourite things together and it’s painful to see it mutilated.
Okay, so then let’s be clear when we say the pizzas we’re trying today do not represent the best that Korea has to offer but rather the trendiest.
Let’s look at Pizza Hut’s dreadful star-edge pizza series as for the first example of how to destroy our life with sadness. For starters, they put raisins in the crust. I’m sorry everyone, but raisins have no place in pizza. You all know how upsetting it is when you bite into a cookie and find raisins in it, and you shout out to the heavens “WHO ASKED YOU TO PUT RAISINS IN MY PIZZA?!” Well, imagine what you’d shout if you had it in your pizza! It’d surely be a lot worse than that, and because we were on camera we couldn’t shout all the bad words we wanted to shout, but – hey – it was thoroughly upsetting. Especially since they didn’t even warn us! We went back to check the ingredients for this pizza and nope, no mention of raisins. None. Just, SURPRISE! RAISINS!!!
And then step two of messing up a pizza, hide those raisins in kind of lukewarm cinnamon apple cream cheese which is slightly watery and slightly creamy and has all been hidden inside of a savoury pizza crust. Now take that mouth exploding experience and place it beside spinach and soft bacon steak shards. Let’s cover all that up with four different processed cheeses: smoked gouda, mozzarella, camembert, and cheddar cheese. YuuuuuuuuuuuuUUUUUM NO! Alright. WHO PUT THESE TOGETHER! RAISE YOUR HAND! TAKE CREDIT FOR YOUR MONSTROSITY! It doesn’t matter that this is a Korean pizza, this is a flavour and texture nightmare. It’s like your five year old sibling was playing house with you and decided to just put a bunch of stuff together and you were forced to eat it so they wouldn’t feel bad. This isn’t even a pizza anymore, this is just a weird dessert bread.
Looking at the Mr.Pizza Seafood Island 2 it actually was not that bad up. The seafood was pretty yummy on that pizza until we hit the deep friend shrimp. The shrimp itself was fine but there was a horrible lemonade flavoured sugar drizzle on the outside of the rim and on the shrimp which was literally syrupy. Lemon and seafood = yummy. Lemon candy + seafood = barf. I peeled the outside deep fried layer off but it had already soaked through the outer crust making the fried crust soggy and stuck to the shrimp. Why would you ruin perfectly crispy deep friend shrimp with a soggy sauce? Isn’t this Cooking 101? The bigger question is, why the need to add this sauce? There were so many flavours happening on that pizza it didn’t need that sauce! Plus if you’ll notice in the picture, it has mushrooms on the pizza. No such mushrooms present.
I also think what made the experience of both these pizza so bad was how completely different the pizza was within its own pizza. You take the first couple of bites of the Pizza Hut slice and it tastes kind of mushy and remotely cheesy, but then you hit a wet floppy meat hunk with a mouthful of sweet camembert cheese. Then you get near the end and it becomes dessert and if you’re unlucky enough you brought some spinach with you to that sweet cream cheese party. Whhhhyyyyy??? For the Mr. Pizza slice the shrimp marks your decent into sugar sadness and it’s completed with the mocha bun crust stuffed with cream cheese. I’ve had dessert pizza before and didn’t have an issue with it, but having a dessert pizza and a regular pizza within the same slice is just all mixed messaging. It’s like reaching into a bowl of chips and finding Skittles in there: it’s not that the Skittles are bad on their own, but in the context of expecting a specific flavour, the surprise is unwelcome.
I’d like to take the time now to say that the best pizza I remember having was in Norway, with the organizers of Omona. I don’t remember the name of the place. Peppe’s Pizza? Peter Pizza? I don’t know. But they had this Thai pizza that had cilantro and peanuts on it, and I swear it was just divine. Totally unexpectedly stupid delicious. And they give you a ranch sour cream sauce that you cover your slice with as well. Norway: I’d live in you just for your pizza if the rest of you wasn’t so expensive. You make some damn good pizza!
If you’ve had a bad pizza experience in Korea, let us know what was wrong with it. Pizza’s become a universal thing now so everyone has their own take on it so I’m curious if some of you love cream cheese in your pizza. In which we can never be friends. Hahah just joking! Or am I…Supposedly there’s a kebab pizza as well and it’s great as well, but I never had it. I’m not sure how it would taste. Is this a real pizza? I bet you it’d taste a lot better than what we had today, though! Also we didn’t toss out the pizza, we shared it with the whole studio! Sadness all around! Hahahaha.
We have some extra scenes from this week’s video as well, if you feel like a bit more pizza swearing: