Snapshots from South Korea: Grand Prix from Mr. Pizza, Korean Pizza 'Made for Women'

From May 8 to May 12 I visited Seoul for the first time, mostly to eat as much food as I could and learn about a cuisine I knew little about.


20090519-mrpizza-sign.jpg"You have to try Mr. Pizza," said Dan, my primary Seoul eating guide for the week. "It's for women! ...And they use lots of crazy toppings."

Hey, I'm female and I like crazy toppings! Apparently, Mr. Pizza was made just for me. (Why is it for women? Mary Eats provides some insight.)

Actually, I lied; I don't like excessive crazy toppings. I like the idea of excessive crazy toppings because it amuses me, but as for fitting into the category of "something I'd repeatedly pay for and eat," probably not. However, I couldn't visit South Korea without trying one of their ubiquitous pizzas topped with anything your heart desires, as long as those desires include shrimp, potato wedges, corn, or sweet potato mousse. (I don't mean to say there's no non-crazy pizza in South Korea, but seeing as I can get that stuff at home and I don't live in Los Angeles, where you can find their only US location, I certainly wasn't going to look for it during my short trip.)

During a marathon eating night with Dan and Terry that also included burgers and fried chicken (three kinds of junk food in one night; that's how we roll), we went to Mr. Pizza so I could try the almighty Grand Prix, a cookie crust pizza topped with shrimp and potato. If that sounds familiar, you may have read about it in our list of the top ten crazy Asian pizza crusts. Or perhaps you've eaten it. If not, here are some photos to show you what you're missing.


A "Women's Wonderful Well-Being" salad bar to go with your pizza? Yes.


You can watch the birth of your mega-pizza by looking through this handy window! And moments later, with the frantic, silent arm waving of the employees on the other side, we found out we weren't allowed to take photos.


Condiments to go with your pizza include garlic sauce, hot sauce, and...blueberry sauce? Yes, to dip the cookie crust in! Also, a side of pickles.


Since we ordered our pizza to go, it came in this box neatly wrapped in a stylish red ribbon. I can't say I've ever seen that before. Nor have I ever seen a pizza box that reads, "Love for Women."


And then we unveiled the Grand Prix. ₩24,500 ($19) for this beaut! ...Good lord.

How did it taste? Unfortunately, I'm not a good judge of its gustatory appeal because I ate it maybe 20 minutes after we ordered the dark. We brought it to a rooftop party as our contribution to the night's festivities. Not being able to see what I was biting into made for a strange experience: lukewarm shrimp, mushroom, pepper, cheese, and corn on one side; potato wedges, bacon, crushed tortilla chips, sour cream, and more on the other, all not-so-harmoniously melding in my mouth. And then there was the crust, which didn't really taste like anything until I got to the edge. It was more like a lightly sweetened scone with a strudel-like coating than the advertised cookie. The bits of sunflower seed, pumpkin seed, and raisin made it mildly more interesting. As for the blueberry sauce, I was honestly too jaded, tired, and lacking in appetite by that point to care about using it (this was the night after I spent all my daylight hours at the Tteok Fair), but I don't think it would've improved the crust's taste by much.

If I had eaten the pizza when it was fresh out of the oven, it probably would've tasted better, but I still would've seen it as "bread with too much stuff on it, bound together by cheese." My friends told me that potato mousse-filled crusts taste good. I'll have to try it next time.


Top Ten Crazy Asian Pizza Crusts
Korean Shrimp Roll and Hot Dog Pizzas
In Videos: Pizza Etang Commercial with Mr. Tyfoon; The Global Mashup