10 weird pizza toppings in Asia, from banana to sweet potato to boba

PHOTO: Facebook/AsiansNeverDie

Not so long ago, the big debate among pizza purists revolved around whether pineapple chunks were ever acceptable as a topping. A Japanese chain has apparently concluded that pineapple is not nearly divisive enough and has this month added to its repertoire a multicultural pizza that will delight some – but horrify others.

The World 9 Cheese Quattro, unveiled for the month of November by the Domino’s chain, incorporates no fewer than nine types of cheese in its four international quarters, including Camembert from Hokkaido, oak-smoked English Cheddar, mozzarella, Parmigiano and Bocconcini from Italy, and Egmont and Gouda from New Zealand.

Add to that slices of salmon, Italian pancetta, burger pieces and the flavours of a cottage pie. It’s a mouthful – and 3,000 yen (S$36) delivered to your door in Japan.

It was also arguably a brave move after the company released, for its July special, the Crispy Fish and Chips pizza – topped with chunks of fried fish, chips, slices of lemon, basil, tartare sauce and tomato sauce.

One pizza aficionado was so outraged at the concoction that he took to Twitter to declare that Domino’s “have invented a dish that insults both England and Italy”.

But maybe the sheer inventiveness and devil-may-care approach to pizza toppings that we see in Asia is something to be embraced. Judge for yourselves with this list of some of the most head-turning concoctions from across the region.

A limited-edition Hawaiian Spaghetti Pizza from Domino’s New Zealand.
PHOTO: Twitter/NewshubNZ

1. New Zealand – Hawaiian Spaghetti Pizza

Let’s start as we mean to go on, with a real toe-curler from Domino’s New Zealand, which teamed up in May 2019 with food firm Wattie’s to create a limited-edition Hawaiian Spaghetti Pizza that had tinned spaghetti, pineapple chunks, ham and mozzarella cheese on top.

If the idea was to create the perfect “comfort food” combo, it may have been sound. But actually eating one of these monstrosities? I don’t think so.

The Cheesy 7 Durian Pizza from Pizza Hut in Malaysia.
PHOTO: Twitter

2. Malaysia – Cheesy 7 Durian Pizza

Durian, at the best of times, is a test for the sense of smell. So much so that many people cannot bring themselves to approach the fruit, much less eat it. Not sure how the staff at Pizza Hut in Malaysia manage to work with durian, but it’s proudly on their menu – and made of seven different types of cheese that cover durian pulp that has been roughly shaped into a ball.

Daring online reviewers suggested the cheese and the cooking had taken some of the sting out of the durian, but it must still be considered a risky order.

Cheesy Vegemite Pizza from Domino’s in Australia.
PHOTO: Twitter/Dominos_AU

3. Australia – Vegemite Pizza

There can be no other food on the planet that divides people into the “love it” or “hate it” camp more than Vegemite (a yeast extract spread). In October, Domino’s in Australia had a Cheesy Vegemite Pizza that was available for three weeks only.

Reactions on the pizza chain’s Facebook page were enthusiastic, with one person saying, “Seriously this will have to be the best pizza”, although one person complained that the pizza didn’t have enough Vegemite!

4. Singapore – Oyster Pizza

In a nation with a notoriously low tolerance for lawbreakers, how on earth is this not illegal? The misguided work of Singaporean food company Pan’s, it is nuggets of silvery oyster amid a sea of cheese topped with basil leaves.

5. South Korea – Grand Prix Cookie Crust Pizza

Korean pizza chain Mr. Pizza has a reputation for pushing the boundaries with its toppings, but this one’s a contender for bottom of the pile. A shrimp-and-sweet potato combo, the crust is stuffed with cookie dough and is served with a blueberry dipping sauce on the side.

6. Australia – Kangaroo Pizza

Looks like we can’t keep our friends Down Under down, with The Australian Heritage Hotel in Sydney serving up the Pepper Kangaroo Pizza, which comes heavily laden with native pepper, cranberries, roast peppers and paprika mayo.

If that one doesn’t hit the spot, go for the emu meat version.

7. Thailand – Shrimp Cocktail

A staple of the 1970s party scene, the shrimp cocktail has inevitably been adapted to a pizza, with The Pizza Company throwing in mushrooms, pineapples and mozzarella cheese. Add prawns, Thousand Island dressing and voilà!

8. Taiwan – Bubble Tea Pizza

Buoyed by the craze for bubble tea, Domino’s in Taiwan decided in 2019 to pair black sugar pearls, known as boba , with honey and cheese on a pizza. While some winced at the description of the “soft and chewy” texture, the creation seemed to attract plenty of positive reviews on social media.

9. South Korea – Sweet Potato

Mr. Pizza’s Sweet Potato Pizza.
PHOTO: Mr. Pizza

Odd. Perhaps sweet potato is not overly offensive as a topping on its own, but when it is combined with cranberries, almonds, pineapple chunks (again!) and streusel, then questions need to be asked of Mr. Pizza.

10. India – South Zesty Veggie Pizza

It’s spicy and it’s banana-ey. Clearly an effort to break new ground on the subcontinent, Domino’s has added spiced green bananas, chillies and peppers to the mix. Eye-watering.

Not sure if this would fare well beyond India’s borders. One social media commentator pithily described the dish as an “offence against humanity and against nature”.

11. Hong Kong – Thousand Island Seafood Pizza

No list of oddly topped pizzas would be complete without an entry from Hong Kong, and that honour can only go to Pizza Hut for replacing the tomato base with Thousand Island dressing, and then liberally adding shrimp, scallops and other seafood as toppings. Plus cheese, of course.

It’s still on the menu, so we can only conclude that someone is buying them – although the company’s left-field plan to create a pizza-scented perfume was a short-lived experiment. Many say the brevity of that product was its most positive attribute, with one person who inhaled describing it as “awful”.

This article was first published in South China Morning Post.