Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Nippon Ham La Pizza Margherita
I have a confession to make. No, I'm not a man. I'm also not really Japanese. And, I'm not a sentient Japanese love doll come to life. This is a confession with a little "c". I like the sort of bad pre-made pizza that you sometimes get in deli and freezer sections. I prefer good pizza, of course, but I have an affinity for any type. That's why you will continue to see the occasional review of such things here.
Since I prefer a good one, I picked up this "La Pizza" brand pizza, by the folks at Nippon Ham when my friend April Marie Claire recommended this line on her blog. She mentioned that you can have a whole pizza for around 600 calories (depending on the type). She also mentioned that they are fresh, and I believe that is true since they have a relatively current expiration date on them and are kept in the refrigerated section instead of the freezer.
I had the choice of several varieties of pizza, including cheese with meat sauce, double bacon, sausage and beef stew. I decided to go for one that didn't have meat because the sausage and ham made in Japan can sometimes taste a bit funky and that's why I'm talking about the margherita one.
The pizza is a lot smaller than the package would lead you to believe. It's 22-23 cm. around (8.6-9 in.), but the package is 30 cm. (11.8 in.) square. The whole pizza has 624 calories if you skip the oily basil sauce packet. You can add in 41 more calories if you add the sauce.
I am trying to limit portions so I only made half of it at once and I cooked it in the toaster oven with a pre-heated tray. That is, I put the empty tray in the toaster oven and get it hot so that the crust is heated up more quickly. One of the problems I have with small Japanese ovens is that the cheese gets overcooked while the crust stays soggy because the heating element is too close to the top of the pizza. I put the basil sauce on one slice and left the other plain to compare the flavor. Because of the way I cut the pizza into 4 slices before cooking it, the cheese slid off onto the tray a bit and the crust stayed soft despite my efforts to crisp it up with a preheated tray.
One thing that I noticed about this pizza as compared to most of the others I've found in Japan is that it has more cheese, though it's still fairly concentrated in the center. It doesn't smell like much other than plain old vague pizza scent. The flavor is excellent though. The cheese is real and actually tastes like good mozzarella. The tomato sauce could be a bit zestier, but it is fine and fills the bill adequately. It's not acidic or too salty. Japanese pizza sauce that is sold in tubes for people to make pizza toast usually is very oily, acidic and tastes odd. This sauce has none of those bad points. The basil sauce, which I was worried would be too much, was excellent and added a very pleasant dimension. I wished I had put it on both slices.
This was a really nice deli pizza. It's by far the best pre-made heat and eat pizza I've had in 20 years in Japan. A big part of that is the cheese, but the basil sauces was also good. The only down side for me was that the crust was soft, but I think that could be fixed by placing the entire pizza directly on the rack rather than putting it on a tray. Unfortunately, I can't do that with mine since I already cut it into 4 slices and the cheese will leak off the edges if I put it on the rack. I add my recommendation to try this pizza to April Marie's. As she says, "it's delish."