Saturday, November 17, 2018

Review: Pizza Hut Spicy Beef Pizza - Chengdu, China

Pizza Hut has restaurants all over the globe, and they tailor the product offerings for local tastes. There is a Chicken Tom Yum pizza in Thailand, Fish Roe and Cream Cheese pie in Hong Kong, and the Grilled Pork Trout Soy Sauce and Prawn Mayo Bacon pizza in Japan. 

We spotted a large and elegant Pizza Hut at the airport in Chengdu, a large city in Southern China, and decided to take a short break from the wonderful Chinese food we'd been eating in Chengdu and Beijing.

Unlike American Pizza Huts, this location sported a very upscale decor. Service was pleasant, but a bit disorganized. I saw very few other westerners in Chengdu, including this airport.

We experienced some exotic street food in China; scorpion on a stick, roasted rabbit head, and chicken wings stuffed with sticky rice. Would Pizza Hut in China stretch the definition of pizza?
Scorpions on a stick
Roasted rabbit head
Chicken wings stuffed with sticky rice
I imagine the menu is more customized to local tastes at other Chinese Pizza Hut locations; here at the airport in this major city, they seem to have crafted a menu to appeal to both natives and to western travelers. The pizza choices were pretty tame. 
Pesto pasta
The "New Orleans" pie included shrimp topping, there was a typical "The Works" pie with gobs of toppings like peppers, onions, sausage, pepperoni, etc. I was tempted to try the simple pepperoni pizza to compare it to the American version, but we instead got the "Spicy Beef" pizza to see if it was some East-meets-West attempt.
"Spicy Beef" pizza
Our hungry table for three also ordered a lasagna and pesto pasta, which I found to be surprising menu options for a Pizza Hut, especially in China. The lasagna was a little bit soupy with red sauce, but otherwise pretty standard stuff. 

The Pesto dish seemed to be spaghetti noodles, which were amazingly al dente. We'd found that in China, noodle dishes get the same respectful preparation as in Italy, pairing perfect texture with rich and complex flavors. That kitchen skill carried over to this pasta dish in a Pizza Hut, a delightful surprise.

The pizzas are offered as small (personal size), medium, or large. I ordered the small version, and this "Spicy Beef" pie was topped with some modest bits of meat, bell pepper, corn, mushrooms, onion, cherry tomatoes (no sauce), and conventional cheese.
Golden oiled crust underneath
Other than the corn, it was a pretty standard pizza. There was a nice golden hue to the cornicione and good browning of the cheese. Underneath, you could see how a layer of oil helped the bottom of the crust get crisped and browned as well.

The crust was very white bread-ish, thick and soft. I couldn't detect a hint of spice in the beef, even though Chengdu is in the heart of Sichuan, which is known for fiery hot cuisine. 

Overall, though, this was a tasty and balanced pizza, more satisfying than I would have expected. I don't have much use for American Pizza Huts when there are so many other better options, but this Chengdu location exceed my expectations.

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