Warning: Trivial Post while I’m jet-lagged.
Okay, so the title of this post is a cheap way to get people to read what I’m about to write (and I truly covet your responses to see if I’m crazy), but at least I’m going to be forthright and share that my thoughts have little to do with pizza and more to do with me and my heritage.
I’ll save you all from the suspense and share where I claim the best pizza in the world is found: Seoul, South Korea.
Before you hurl stones at me, let me explain that it took me some time to come to this conclusion, and this is only after visiting Italy for the first time earlier this year, then rediscovering my love for NYC pizza, and finally coming to Seoul this summer for me to realize that I truly believe the best pizza in the world is found in Seoul.
Of the aforementioned places, I actually surmised a few months ago that NYC pizza was my favorite pizza city… until I came back to Seoul to confirm what I truly believed for a couple of years but could never admit.
Before you accuse me of being a homer, I want you to know that I don’t even think that Korean food is the best in Seoul (Los Angeles would have that distinction).
Okay, now that the caveats are out of the way, here’s why I think Seoul has the best the pizza in the world.
1) The Bread – If you ask most New Yorkers, the reason the pizza and bagels taste so good is because of the water.
I’ve heard this so many times and from so many people (natives, transplants, people who have never lived in NYC) that I’ve just adopted this as true without any empirical research.
And seriously, what I have known to be true is that NYC pizza and bagels just taste better than anywhere else. In fact, the bread in NYC is just so dang good – any bread really.
However, have you ever had the bread in Korea?
The bread here is SO delicious!
Anything from pastries to pretzels to pizza – the bread here is AMAZING.
Whenever I come to Seoul, I can’t wait to eat bread.
2) The Copycat Instincts – This is a total generalization, but Koreans tend to be really good at copying things, and then adding a subtle twist (Samsung, ahem).
I find this in myself too – I mostly just love reading/listening/copying from all sorts of Pastors/Thinkers over the years and regurgitating stuff to people.
Anyhow, this topic deserves another blog post.
But as South Korea has grown as a global country and Koreans have traveled the world, Koreans have seen/heard/tasted the finest this world has to offer, and the same is true for food.
Thus, it shouldn’t be surprising that all sorts of non-Korean food restaurants have emerged in Seoul the past 20 years.
I can’t tell you how many Italian places I’ve seen here, and Mr. Pizza, a Korean pizza chain, is easily one of my favorite pizza places in the world (Apparently the Chinese think so too according to the above Wikipedia link)!
3) The Flavor – Okay, I’m not quite sure how to describe this, because I have a rather savage palate and usually anything that’s meaty in taste and texture is fine by me.
But the flavor of just about everything here appeals to me – the spicyness/acidity, the freshness, the sweetness/sourness, etc.
I admit this is probably because I’m Korean, but all the non-Korean food I eat here I absolutely love.
I love ordering jja-jjang-myun in Korea.
Random Question for Chinese friends who have had jja-jjang-myun in Korea and Chinese jja-jjang-myun anywhere else: Which do you prefer?
For me it’s Korea hands-down, but uh, I’m biased.
I love ordering burgers at Kraze Burger and even Mcdonalds & Burger King.
I never thought I’d say that I like eating non-Korean food in Korea, but eating non-Korean food in Korea actually one of my favorite things to do while I’m here.
That and munching on as many Korean gwa-jahs (snacks) as I can find. Delicious.
Anyhow, I’d love to hear what you think, especially those of you who have had pizza in Korea. Am I way off or am I on to something?