If the word “pizza” conjures up for you images of pepperoni, margherita, and pineapple, you’ll realize as soon as you see the menu that these are far from being the stars of this Korean chain. In fact, you can go ahead and leave your expectations at the door on your way in. Mr. Pizza is not your typical pizza place. Here, they top their pizza with bulgogi, sweet potato, and tofu. Yep, you read that right.
But if you want to make your experience work, you have to keep an open mind, so that’s what I did. I tried to, anyway, when Zomato Philippines invited me over to sample some of their most famous dishes. According to Mr. Pizza’s marketing manager, theirs is the #1 pizza chain in Korea, and the Greenbelt branch is actually their 505th store all over the world. They pride themselves in offering guests the 300% principle: 100% on great crust, 100% on fresh toppings, and 100% on the cooking technique (grilling).
Aside from the unique flavors, Mr. Pizza also appeals to the obsessive-compulsive in me by arranging the toppings in such a way that each slice has every component. This way, everyone gets his fair share and no one goes home feeling short-changed on the topping. Another thing that’s different with this brand is the fact that their main target audience is women, hence the tagline “Ladies First”.
Upon entering the restaurant, the first thing you notice is the area where they make your pizza to order. You actually get a better look when you climb up to the loft-like eating area. The place is very brightly lit and every customer is greeted enthusiastically as they come in. Typical of Korean restaurants here in the country, they have a big screen TV featuring K-Pop videos you can watch as you wait for your orders.
Mr. Pizza offers seven kinds of crusts and even more flavors in toppings. You can choose to mix and match the toppings and crusts, but you can also avoid wasting time making a decision by opting for the pre-selected combinations. The menu still has typical flavors like pure cheese and Hawaiian, but where’s the fun in that? The real money-makers (no pun intended) are the more unique flavors, some of which were served to us. First up was the Bulgogi Pizza. True enough, the crust had a nice texture, which automatically scored big points. But the Bulgogi topping was sweet, something to be expected of Korean food, so that was a huge setback for me.
The steak-and-potatoes pan Macho Grande was a little less sweet, so I liked that better. They made it with a cream-filled mocha bun crust. Yup, a sweet, cream-filled mocha bun as crust to a savory pizza. I was a little weirded out at first; it was like they were in a hurry to hustle us out of the door so they slapped the main course and the dessert together so we’d finish faster. I know it’s not how they intended for their pizza to be eaten, but I ate the crust separate from the pizza itself and thought it was pretty good. Worked as a dessert, at least.
The Eggta, which might be the most innovative of the three pies, is topped with tofu among other things, and its outer lip was made of egg tart. This was the hardest thing for me to comprehend, and the toughest to appreciate. Again, the supposedly savory topping was sweet, and the crust even sweeter. It was like eating a dessert pizza with the added knowledge that it’s in fact a savory pizza.
My favorite dish of the night was actually not a pizza but a pasta dish: the crab carbonara with its al dente noodles, adequate amount of creamy white sauce, and pleasant collision of flavors between the crab and the bacon. The oven-baked meat spaghetti and cream spaghetti, on the other hand, were OK.
If you’d rather pass on the carbs, they’ve got wings on the menu too. Mr. Chicken is for people with a penchant for spice. And I know that Korean food leans toward the more saccharine, but hooooly those Ms. Chicken wings were sweet, sweeter than a bully hoping for a great handout from Santa. Needless to say, I didn’t finish my portion and decided to move on to the humble baked wings, which I liked the most. To wash it all down, I asked for a Citron Aide. It started out as cool and refreshing with a slight fizz, but got a little too much as you plunged your straw to the bottom and tasted the candy-like pulp that’s settled there.
It might be the traditionalist in me, but I’m too attached to the old-fashioned concept of a pizza so it’s still hard to wrap my head around Mr. Pizza’s offerings. Yes, they’re revolutionary to us Filipinos so I’d definitely recommend it to the conservative eater who wants an out-of-the-box culinary experience. But personally, it just wasn’t my cup of tea, so I think I’ll stick with my pepperoni and leave Mr. Pizza’s egg tart crust to the more adventurous foodie.
Overall rating: ★★★☆☆
Level 1, Greenbelt 3, Ayala Center, Greenbelt, Makati City
Disclosure: This visit was organized by the restaurant’s management in cooperation with Zomato Philippines. The opinions expressed in this post are based on my own experience and were in no way influenced by said groups.
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