Not every topping is a perfect match for rice instead of pizza dough. 

Just the other week, Pizza Hut Japan announced it would be introducing a new product called “Gohan Pizza” to cater for local tastes.

Gohan Pizza, which translates to “Rice Pizza“, uses a new base made from rice instead of pizza dough, and when we say “rice” we don’t mean rice flour — these bases are made with actual rice grains.

Available as part of a one-person “My Box” set, there are three different sets to choose from: Japanese StyleEuropean Style, and American Style. Each box contains three different pizzas, meaning there are nine in total to try, so we bought every one of them.

▼ The kanji for rice, ““, can be read as “Mai“, which sounds like “My

Opening the lid on the Japanese Style Set, we were greeted by Yakiniku Beef Ribs, Teriyaki Chicken, and Mentaiko (Spicy Pollock Roe) Mayonnaise Soy Sauce pizzas.

On the side, we have a separate section for French fries and two chicken nuggets, which are included in every box.

This was a great little set, but of course, the stars of the show here were the pizzas, and they were much smaller than any other pizzas we’d ever seen.

▼ Each one measured 7.5 centimetres (three inches) in diameter.

Rice is pretty filling, though, so three of these, along with fries and nuggets, would make for a substantial meal. How would they taste, though? Let’s start with the Yakiniku Beef Ribs, which, like all of the Japanese pizzas, is topped with mayonnaise. 

▼ Mayo is a popular addition to pizzas in Japan.

Wow. The flavours here were fantastic — the beef ribs were sweet, salty, juicy, and perfectly complemented by the green onions and mayonnaise. As for the disc of rice it all sat upon, this too exceeded our expectations as it was perfectly round, evenly cooked, and the fluffiness of the rice grains remained intact, despite the grilling process.

▼ It felt and tasted somewhere in between a grilled rice ball and a regular, non-grilled rice ball.

The unusual rice grain base was so good we couldn’t wait to try it with more flavour combinations on top, so we quickly picked up the Teriyaki Chicken for a taste.

Similar to the Beef Ribs, this was also sweet and salty, however, the chicken had a smoky flavour to it, making the presence of the meat stand out. Paired with corn and mayonnaise, the Teriyaki Chicken was a very Japanese-tasting pizza.

The last pizza in the set was the Mentaiko Mayonnaise Soy Sauce, which had a more subdued flavour profile by comparison. The roe was slightly salty, and a perfect match for the rice base, and though the addition of bacon seemed an odd choice at first, it helped to lift the overall taste, creating a moreish morsel that was a great counterpart to the other pizzas in the set.

▼ Probably best to eat this one first, as it’s the most delicate in flavour.

Next up, it was time to take the taste buds on a trip overseas with the European Style Set, which includes Iberico Pork and Basil, Prawn and Lobster Sauce, and Milanese-style Sausage pizzas.

▼ Spain, France and Italy seem to be the countries behind this concept.

The Iberico Pork and Basil is topped with two luxuriously thick slices of Iberico pork, grilled to perfection with a slight charring on the edges. As expected, the fatty pork was juicy and slightly oily, but the basil on top helped to cut through the grease and add a wonderful freshness to the pizza.

▼ A delicious treat for bacon lovers.

Next up is the Prawn and Lobster Sauce, which has the only creamy topping out of all nine pizzas. The cheese and white sauce created a gratin-like flavour, and combined with the two prawns on top, this was creamy yet mellow, and a fantastic match for the rice base.

▼ The lightest out of all three European pizzas, and a top rice partner.

The last stop on the taste tour took us to Italy, where the Milanese-style Sausage greeted us with thinly sliced ​​Milanese sausages, a big mound of Gouda cheese, and a tomato-based sauce.

▼ Nothing out of the ordinary here, but still, it was downright delicious.

The final box in the lineup is the American Style Set, which contains Garlic Shrimp, Barbecue Pork, and Pepperoni Lover pizzas.

Out of all nine pizzas, the Garlic Shrimp was the plainest looking of all, with an overall white look to it and almost no sauce on top. However, it delivered a much stronger flavour than expected, with the garlic and pepper packing a delicious punch to the palate.

The Barbecue Pork also contained Iberico pork like its European brethren, but this time the concept was entirely different, with a sweet barbecue sauce creating a more American flavour.

Finally, we have the Pepperoni Lover. The salami was only slightly spicy, so as to appeal to a wide variety of palates, but it was a great match for the Italian sausage and Gouda cheese.

▼ It was delicious, but this one made us pine for a crusty pizza dough.

With our bellies now full, it was time to take a look back at all the new rice pizzas, and rank our top three:

No. 1 Yakiniku Beef Ribs (Japan)
No. 2 Prawn and Lobster Sauce (Europe)
No. 3 Teriyaki Chicken (Japan) 

It’s no surprise that two of our top three pizzas were from the Japan set, seeing as Japanese flavours are designed to pair well with rice. The other pizzas were still tasty, but somehow they seemed better matched for a crusty pizza dough rather than a chewy rice base.

All the pizzas were light and surprisingly easy to eat, and we have to commend Pizza Hut for thinking outside of the box for ways to support local farmers and get more people eating rice, especially as people in Japan now consume 40 percent less rice than 50 years ago.

The new pizza boxes went on sale from 22 August, priced at 1,000 yen (US$7.40) for takeout and 1,350 yen for eat-in diners. Unlike Domino’s, chopsticks not included.

Photos © SoraNews24
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