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A Taste of the Cheeseburger Crown Crust Pizza from Pizza Hut in the Middle East

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[Photographs: Above, Pizza Hut; rest, Arva Ahmed]

A few days ago, Robyn Lee had posted about the burger reincarnation of a pizza that Pizza Hut in the Middle East has created in their murky pizza laboratories. In her words:

In the Middle East, Pizza Hut's new Cheeseburger Crown Crust Pizza goes beyond the typical cheeseburger pizza construction—topped with chopped-up cheeseburger ingredients—and nestles mini burger patties into a modified "crown" crust. The rest of the pizza is topped with burgery ingredients of lettuce, tomatoes, onions, special sauce, cheese, and beef nubs.

Today, having grabbed lunch at a Pizza Hut branch in Dubai, I'll tell you what the cheeseburger pizza construction actually tastes like.

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The first bite of the medium Cheeseburger Crown Crust Pizza (the ads feature the large size) instantly sent a train of goosebumps popping down my spine. This was a pizza experiment that had clearly gone completely, and horribly, wrong. While remotely resembling a pizza, it lacked the harmoniously cheesy and saucy spirit that any self-respecting pizza would have. What lay before me was...a Mutant Pizza.

As I drew close to the tip of my first slice, which in most normal cases, would be the cheesy, gooey pinnacle of a pizza, my mouth was suddenly assaulted with the merciless crunch of tasteless iceberg lettuce shreds. There may have been onions involved too, but when you're fumbling through a patch of vegetables that have had the tasty life sucked out of them, you'd be hard-pressed to notice. Pizza Hut had gone so far as to even throw a token burger pickle on select slices, which in my bland-lettuce-inflicted opinion, was the only small voice of flavor crying out in a sea of insipidity.

Pizza Hut aficionados might read the advert and counter that, "Hey, let's give them some credit for the 'special sauce.'" If we're referring to the sauce smeared on the crust, I can't comment, because in the confusion of vegetables and beef patty (to be described at length a few lines below) that entered my mouth, I don't actually remember tasting any tomato-based concoction. But if we're referring to the cream-colored drizzle over the vegetable patch, then yes, the sauce is truly special...for those who've never tasted some permutation of ketchup and mayo that resembles Thousand Island.

When severed from the rest of the pie, every slice became cheeseburger and pizza anarchy; tomato, lettuce and beef meteorites lay scattered like dismembered parts of a burger in a fast food wasteland. And no, there is no civilized way in which you can taste all elements of this cheeseburger pizza in one bite to have the ultimate all-encompassing fast food experience—unless you roll up each slice, from the tip to the crown patty crust, smack it down, and then hurl it into your mouth before the lettuce shreds and tomatoes fly away.

...I didn't test the hypothesis.

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But dismembered burger bodies and unspecial sauce aside, let's get down to the MEAT of the pizza, aka the mini burger patties nestled into the modified crown crust. Nestled into little doughy nests soggy with mayo, if I may add.

While the advert suggests perfectly circular patties dressed in opaque congealed cheese, in reality, the crown crust ensnares grayish-brown patties with a translucent veneer of cheesy grease, and of shapes that would have my fifth grade geometry teacher rap me hard on the knuckles if I tried to pass them off as circles.

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If I took the antonym of "delicious," strapped it onto a rocket and blasted it twenty thousand light years away, I may begin to get close to my experience with the burger patties. They were advertised as "juicy," though its questionable what sort of juice Pizza Hut was referring to. The only juices I tasted were suspiciously reminiscent of those plastic-wrapped airline cheeseburgers that get brutally microwaved to explosion point. One entire patty and another toxic forkful of a second patty later, I gave up attempting to discern what creature could have flesh that tasted this way.

Since we are referring to the "Crown Crust" promotion, it is imperative that I give a token mention to the crust. Towards the center of the pie, the thin crust was a bare ghost of its possible self, totally spineless and overpowered by the veggie onslaught and mess of burger ingredients. Closer to the "crowns," the raised crust collars around the patty were acceptably crispy and charred, but when I peeked at the crown bed under the patty, it seemed soggy and potentially slightly under cooked. There was so much gloop on the pizza that it may well have permeated through into the crust and made it seem mushier than usual. Peer at the cross section closely, and you'll see that indeed, the crown crust is just one solid mass of soggy dough. No air spaces, no crunch. I must admit that the crust wasn't bad, though—compared to the rest of the pizza.

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Logistically, the layout of the pizza forces you to deal with each ingredient in bland isolation, one at a time, so that you feel like you've tasted all the raw ingredients that are meant to go into something that will eventually be a burger or a pizza.

If Pizza Hut really wanted to channel their creative juices into successfully creating fast food fireworks with this pizza, they should have (a) killed the lettuce (as in, left it off of the pizza altogether), (b) slapped on caramelized onions, (c) chopped up and distributed the burger elements—the tomatoes and the burger patty—uniformly throughout the pizza surface, and (d) used more cheese rather than the special sauce, because cheese is the antidote for most irredeemable dishes.

Or alternatively, as Robyn has so rightly suggested, Pizza Hut could have left the pizza in the furnace to die.

There seems to be no rational explanation as to why this pizza was created. A friend offered that it was made exclusively to punish those who insist on ordering a burger at a pizza joint (see Crown Crust Carnival commercial below for example).

Whatever the reason is, you have been warned. Don't let the Crown Crust Carnival make a joker out of you.

Crown Crust Cheeseburger Pizza Commercial

In addition to the cheeseburger and chicken fillet, there is also a cream cheese version that has sadly not received a mention on the main flyer. This version can be ordered in your local Pizza Hut flavor of choice, and is actually quite edible until you reach the crown crust and inhale an entire semi-solid ball of plain Philadelphia cream cheese at one go. To be truly fair reviewers, we even tried smearing the cream cheese ball over the surface area of the pizza--and walked away vehemently agreeing that one must always have a glass of soda close at hand when attempting to cram incompatible ingredients together into one mouthful.

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About the author: Arva Ahmed is a Dubai food blogger, freelance writer and food photographer who's obsessed with scouring out ethnic restaurant secrets in Dubai. Her latest foodie project is an attempt to spark an "Old Dubai food revival" by organizing ethnic food tours around older, down-to-earth parts of the city that are far removed from Dubai's new-age glitz and glam. Read more from Arva at her personal blog, I Live in a Frying Pan.

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