Five common Asian pizza toppings you’ll never see in Italy – durian pizza, seriously?
Forget your margheritas and your pepperonis – pizza shops in Asia from Pizza Hut to Domino’s are winning over the continent’s pizza eaters with ingredients you’re not going to find on the menu of the average Italian trattoria
Pizza is the ultimate comfort food for millions of people across various cultures, but do not assume you can always get a typical pepperoni or extra cheese at a pizza shop in Asia.
The region offers a spectacular range of some of the most unconventional topping choices that will upend your understanding of what pizza really is.
Here are five common toppings in Asia that are unlikely to be found in Italy.
Thousand island seafood
Seafood on pizzas may sound bizarre to non-Asians, but it is one of the most common varieties in Hong Kong and many other parts of the continent.
The topping usually includes one or two types of seafood such as shrimp, scallops, tuna, crab stick and squid. Other common ingredients are mushroom, pineapple, peppers and onions.
A post shared by Aida Nadia (@nadiaadam86) on Feb 13, 2018 at 8:07pm PST
The base (and sometimes the dressing) of the pizza is thousand island sauce, which is made with mayonnaise and ketchup. Unlike in Europe and North America, where tomato sauce is the dominant base, mayonnaise is popular across Asia.
This topping is offered at almost every pizza chain shop in Hong Kong.
The smelly, spiky Southeast Asian fruit is loathed by many for its unique odour, but its creamy pulp is fast becoming one of the most popular pizza toppings in Asian countries like China and Singapore.
Complemented by butter and cheese, durian pizzas have a special mixed taste of savoury, sweetness and bitterness.
Pizza Hut introduced the flavour in China two years ago, and many smaller competitors have jumped on the bandwagon.
Le Cesar, for example, a Chinese chain that specifically sells durian pizzas, has set up over 120 restaurants across the country. It offers pizzas made with durians of different origins and varieties, such as the famous monthong from Thailand and musang king from Malaysia.
Bulgogi (Korean grilled beef)
What’s better than combining a classic national dish with pizza?
South Koreans have been enjoying pizzas topped with bulgogi, or marinated barbecue beef slices, for years. This variety accounted for a quarter of the pizza orders in 2014 placed through Yogiyo, a Korean food delivery application, which made it the most popular pizza flavour among the app’s users.
The slightly sweet bulgogi goes well with other ingredients including Mozzarella cheese, mushrooms, brown onions, corn kernels and bell peppers. Some shops also provide the option of sweet potato-stuffed crust to complete the experience.
Peking roast duck
A signature dish of China’s capital city, Peking roast duck is something tourists make sure not to miss. But instead of following the tradition and making your wraps with a thin pancake and some cucumber and spring onion slices, you can now also savour the chewy duck meat on a pizza.
This is one of the most popular dishes at Pizza Express shops in China and is also offered at Pizza Hut restaurants.
Tandoori paneer pizza
This pizza topping that you can easily find in India is another example of Eastern spices and Western flavours being fused perfectly.
Saturday be my best day of the week! Relaxed and sorted lunch scenes @pizzahut . Tried #tandooripaneerpizza with #garlicbread #potatowedges and their newly introduced #jamuntini beverage! . The meal was very nice and jamuntini is highly recommended! Its has a kala khata flavour in it.. ️
A post shared by Aakriti Chandna (@foodophiles1392) on Apr 28, 2018 at 8:48am PDT
Marinated in yogurt and seasoned with a range of spices from garam masala to ginger and garlic, the flavourful tandoori chicken blends well with the mild milky taste of paneer cheese. It has become popular beyond Asia in recent years, making its way into North America and Europe.