Dating is weird
Behind a glass window, a female pizza-maker tosses dough, and a pizza and salad bar occupies the center of the restaurant.A large group of women with two foreign men are giggling and passing around selfie sticks. Pizza, the bank employees say the recipes tend to be more toned down than at other chains.During the Brazil World Cup, Domino’s unleashed the “Churrasco Cheese Roll Pizza,” a Brazilian barbeque and Pizza Hut Korea’s fall release, “Star Edge Pizza,” is shaped like a multi-pointed star with the points crammed full of cinnamon apple nut or cranberry-flavored cream cheese, and a surf and turf topping of sausage, shrimp, calamari, bacon, steak topping, and broccoli. “They don’t sneak anything on or off the menu but they’re also the king of the weird pizzas,” Mc Pherson says. Pizza first opened its doors in 1990 with a restaurant nearby Seoul’s Ewha Womans University.In Korea, the turnover of ideas and competitive experimentation tends to be faster than in the West, says Daniel Tudor, an author and journalist who lived in Seoul for seven years and is a co-founder of The Booth pubs, which specialize in craft beer and sell New York-style slices. Today, there are 435 domestic outlets, 60 in China, three restaurants in the US in Los Angeles and branches in the Philippines.He’s normally on his own, but today his mother Alice has come in to help out.Kim, wearing his usual red baseball cap, slides a sliced, rectangular pizza into a box and Alice adds it to the stack of others, which are being kept warm by an electric heated mat and two blankets.Everything is baked to order and served, neatly sliced, on wooden paddles instead of on disposable plates. But while cooks of traditional Korean food can be militant in their adherence to conventions—the best purveyors of a dish will often serve that dish and nothing else—pizza-makers go the other way. Since the arrival of pizza, primarily through big American brands like Pizza Hut, which came to the Korean Peninsula in 1980, the culture around it has evolved and become Koreanized.He considers his pizza “Korean,” not just because he uses indigenous ingredients, but also because it’s not as salty or rich, but sweeter than what he’s eaten in the West. The country’s pizza scene has grown diverse in recent times thanks to more Koreans travelling abroad and returning home to set up different ventures and demand from the growing foreign population.
And seeing pizza as something malleable, according Jennifer Flinn, a Seoul-based Korean food expert who ran a bilingual food blog, has in turn nurtured a culture of experimentation.But apart from the evenly baked thin base, Kim’s pizza bears little resemblance to those slices.He has toppings like bulgogi—marinated beef—and sweet potato and four different kinds of savory sauces: a homemade ranch with wasabi (his best-seller); one sans wasabi; tomato; and one made with , the spicy fermented soybean and chili paste.The most “flamboyant” chain, in the opinion of one Seoul-based food expert, is delivery-based Domino’s.The “premium” section of its website lists its most dubious combinations, like “Cheese Cake Sand,” with cheesecake mousse and shrimp.It can have figs and snails; sweet potato crusts; sausage, calamari, and cream cheese; and it certainly wouldn’t be entirely unthinkable to put all of these ingredients together.Kim opened his restaurant in November 2011, and his menu features bespoke slices inspired by the ubiquitous takeaway staple he discovered as a student in New York in 2008.Christmas tree lights wink in the corner; folded, check blankets rest on chair backs; and Korean hip hop group Dynamic Duo plays over the speakers.It’s noon, and as Kim boxes up the last pizza, a group of middle school students and Kia employees marches in.Kim is just one of the many pizza chefs in the city specializing in a food that’s very popular among Koreans.But while Kim says his foreign customers are patient, pizza often exasperates Westerners living in the country.