While I write this post, my stomach gnaws at me. I have a Pizza Hut order schedule for pickup on the way back from picking up my husband from work, and his clock-out can’t come any sooner. Of course, like many international brands, Japan has their own Pizza Huts. Since my mind is on a single track right now (pizzaaaaa), let’s take a look at how Japan does their pizza.
For starters, “stuffed crust” is a delicious splurge here in the US, but did you know that you can get your crust stuffed with sausage in Japan? The English-language version of the website reads enthusiastically, “You will never have to avoid the crust filled with Sausage and Cheese!”, and I have to wonder, why would you ever avoid such a glorious thing? It adds 280 yen to a medium pizza, and 410 to a large, which is the same cost as simple cheese stuffed crust. This makes it a fair bit more expensive than the $2 up-charge in the US, but then, Japan doesn’t have quite the same cheese-obsession we have in the US either.
One of the most striking and uniquely Japanese things I saw on the menu was the “Shrimp Mayo Bacon” pizza. Now, mind you that Japanese mayonnaise is a unique beast of its own; comparatively, it’s richer and faintly sweeter than the mayo we’re used to in the US. The mayo based sauce on this particular pizza is called “Aurora Sauce”, and is paired with popcorn shrimp, sliced bacon, corn, and parsley.
While it’s common to get a ‘half-and-half’ pizza in the US, many of the Japanese Pizza Hut’s offerings are focused on 4-flavor pizzas, offering a different set of ingredients on each quarter. With names like “Family 4”, “Friends 4”, “Gorgeous 4”, and “Enjoy 4”, there are a lot of combinations! Whereas half-and-half is treated like a friendly courtesy for people who can’t agree on toppings but don’t want their own individual pizzas, Japan seems to treat the variety like a special treat in itself. Things like the “Family 4” seem almost geared toward splitting a single pizza between a family, with “Cheese & Cheese” as the designated slices for the resident picky-eater child.
As unique as the pizzas are (“Avocado Shrimp”, “Tuna Mild”, and “Curly Potato” are some more fantastic options), the sides are equally unique. In the US, your options are typically relegated to wings, fries, some garlic bread bites, bread sticks, and some form of baked cookie or brownie. In Japan, you have the option of a sampler platter of baked potato wedges, wings, and chicken nuggets. Other sides include ice cream, dishes of potatoes with various toppings, numerous gratins, shrimp, salads, fried fish, apple pies, corn, corn potage and lasagna. I don’t know about you, but lasagna sounds like an awesome side with pizza.
I personally loved the baked pastas offered in the US, but in Japan, the pasta offerings are akin to ordinary spaghetti. One spaghetti topping they offer, as well as a common pizza topping, is “mentaiko”; salted Alaskan pollock roe.
The most shocking difference… and yes, I’m ranking this above things like shrimp, mayo, and pollock roe on pizzas… The most shocking difference between the US and Japanese Pizza Huts has to be the price. Right now, a large Eggplant Meat Sauce pizza runs 3,650 yen, which currently equates to a whopping $32.65. At this very moment, I’m taking advantage of the “$10 any pizza carry out” deal, so the prices nearly made me fall out of my chair.
Furthermore, a large Japanese Pizza Hut pizza is actually rather small, even compared to their competition. At 31cm across, their large is less than 2cm larger than an American medium. Honestly, this doesn’t shock me, considering I live in the country of the Super Size and these food quantity differences are normal in Japan… Heck, our kiddie sized soda at McDonalds in the US is larger than the standard adult size in a Japanese McDonalds. It does still feel like Japanese pizza lovers are getting ripped off, though…
Keep in mind, though, this is simply a comparison of Pizza Huts. I’ve heard that there are much cheaper ways to get pizza in Japan, and that the big chains tend to be much pricier than the local offerings. I just thought it was an interesting look at the other side of the pond!
This post was in no way sponsored by Pizza Hut. …though maybe it should’ve been…