The Weird and Wonderful World of Korean Pizza

Sweet potato crust, fig and snail toppings—in an otherwise conservative food tradition, Seoul’s pizza makers aren’t afraid to experiment.

It’s a chilly cold weather early morning in December, and walking into Jisoo Kim’s restaurant it is difficult to not instantly gravitate towards the hot range in the kitchen that is open. Thirty-one-year-old Kim, the owner that is friendly chef at “Pizza by the piece,” has already established a busy early early early morning baking pizzas for a big purchase that came in the day prior to. He’s normally by himself, but his mother Alice has come in to help out today.

Kim, using their typical red baseball limit, slides a sliced, rectangular pizza in to a field and Alice adds it towards the stack of other people, that are being held hot by the electric heated mat and two blankets. Christmas time tree lights wink within the part; folded, always check blankets sleep on seat backs; and hip that is korean team Dynamic Duo plays on the speakers.

It’s noon, so that as Kim bins up the final pizza, a number of center college students and Kia workers marches in. Kim looks momentarily panicked—he has to drop this order down before they can begin cooking. He quickly bundles up the bins and hurries out to his vehicle. The Kia workers eye him drive down.

Kim makes a pizza with half regarding the it covered with his do-it-yourself ranch sauce as well as spouse, a tomato sauce.

“i’ve to rush,” Kim says, while awaiting the lift at Seoul nationwide University of Education, the distribution target, positioned just about to happen from their eatery into the more Gangnam region. He smiles. “Most Koreans, they’re perhaps not extremely patient regarding food.” “Why therefore belated?” he says they’ll ask. Kim claims their customers that are foreign complain about waiting.

Southern Korea features a pizza culture that is well-established. But while chefs of conventional Korean meals can be militant in their adherence to conventions—the most useful purveyors of a meal will usually provide that meal and absolutely absolutely nothing else—pizza-makers get one other means. In reality, the guideline appears to be: any such thing goes.

Did Marco Polo take pizza from Korea?

Mr. Pizza is understood because of its cheeky, playful image, and, last year, it circulated a viral movie that parodies Korean tradition through pizza. The brief mockumentary, titled “The real Origins of Pizza,” investigates whether Marco Polo took pizza from Korea. At one point, the narrator stumbles for an “undeniable” little bit of supporting evidence—a Buddhist statue through the Goryeo dynasty. The statue’s hat that is rectangular he states, could simply be described as a pizza package. As well as small package above it? “I think this the buy that is first, get one free garlic bread promotions of times,” the narrator continues on to say.

The advertising had been praised being a clever send-up of Korean nationalism which also poked enjoyable during the odd practice that Koreans sometimes have actually of professing something international as their very own. As an example, during 2009, a federal federal federal government human body advertised that the many Christmas that is globally-recognizable tree in Korea, but wasn’t being precisely attributed as such. Being a meta-reading, the spoof documentary additionally arguably alludes to your indisputable fact that, as Tudor thinks, “there’s not really a historic conception associated with pizza”—it’s such as a blank canvas.

And pizza that is seeing one thing malleable, according Jennifer Flinn, a Seoul-based Korean dietitian whom went a bilingual meals weblog, has in change nurtured a tradition of experimentation. Koreans have a “less fixed image of exactly what a pizza is,” Flinn says. Pizza is “just a strange international meals that someone brought over.”

Pickles have been offered with pizza—perhaps because they have been a palette cleanser, because pizza is greasier than most Korean meals, or as it’s an approximation of kimchi.

It’s also a bread, she adds, that has an “indeterminate spot” in Korean culture, specially among older Koreans whom notice it as a treats instead than the usual appropriate dinner, which necessitates consuming rice. “Because it is a snack you’ll mess around along with it more,” she states. “If you merely go, ‘Oh, it is a flatbread with often cheese about it,’ you’ll get various places.”

“i’ve a Dream,” a kitsch restaurant decorated with bric-a-brac, Barbie dolls, and theater paraphernalia, positioned above Gangnam’s labyrinthine subway section, houses certainly one of the city’s more uncommon pizzas. The very nearly solely feminine customers frequently requests the strawberry pizza, a dish that is ultra-sweet the restaurant is flogging for four years. Strawberries function in the dough, because the sauce so when the topping. It is baked with mozzarella and served with lashings of cream cheese icing.

The feminine clients will frequently purchase the pizza as a primary to share having a pasta dish, claims Yoon Seok, the pinnacle cook. Seok believes that the meal is popular in component because, as Korean ladies are proven to just just take care that is good of epidermis, they’re probably attracted to your health advantages regarding the fresh fresh fresh fruit. With this specific logic, Seok introduced a fig and snail pizza—many Korean cosmetic brands function skincare services and products with snail extracts—hoping it might catch in. It’sn’t.

The strawberry pizza is offered with pickles.

Whenever asked why the restaurant is much more popular with ladies, he stated that Korean males, himself included, prefer Korean food. “Women, they decide to try brand brand new things more frequently than guys,” he claims. “And even dating, they like dating international dudes.”

Korean pizza-makers and observers that are cultural agree that females drive meals styles in the united states. In reality, it is no surprise that Mr. Pizza first exposed close to the Ewha campus, the location ended up being then the trend incubator, but significantly more than that, the Korean string is actually centering on the women’s market. Its motto is “Ladies First”—past slogans had been “Love for Women” and “Made for Women”—and its advertising promotions are women-focused. A commercial like “Mr. Pizza does shrimp,” depicts consuming pizza, for the lady carrying it out, as enjoyable and wing app liberating.

Kim states nearly all of their customers are “of course female… In Korea, individuals think pizza, pasta, and spaghetti”—foreign dishes, this means—“that’s the women’s food.”

He’s causes it to be point out maintain along with their clientele. On Sundays, their day down, he attempts brand new restaurants with buddies or bikes round the town to look at exactly exactly just what eateries are crowded, and just just what styles they can discern. That’s exactly exactly how he unearthed that places serving patbingsoo—a red bean and shaved ice dessert—were attracting a lot of clients. “ we need certainly to make use of it,” he recalls thinking to himself. So he added a new pizza to their menu, which includes whipped cream, red beans, melted cheese, and walnut powder. “i could plainly state, in Korea, specially females, they simply love sweet beans that are red” Kim says.