Thursday, August 18, 2011
Kameda Seika Pizza Sembei
There was a period of time in my life when I was absolutely bonkers for pizza. I call that the time "when I was young and lived in the United States". Since coming to Japan, several factors have conspired to undermine my devotion to that fattening delight. First, there was the year or so when both my husband and I were working full-time and every Friday night we'd come home and be so exhausted that we'd just order a barely adequate pizza from Pizza Hut. It got to the point where I actually was so sick of pizza, any kind, that I didn't want to touch one.
The second factor, and anyone whose lived in Japan for any length of time will understand this, is that Japanese pizza blows like a gale-force wind. It's not only that they are skimpy with the cheese and meat toppings, but the crusts always fail to inspire. Unless you go to a top of the line pizza place with equally "top of the line" prices, you're going to get something between a pre-made crust and a frozen mass-produced dough. Even when you stumble across a nice-looking Italian place (of which there are approximately a gazillion in Tokyo), there's a very high chance that they're using frozen pies or bases. Trust me when I say there's a very small chance that there's some guy in the back tossing dough, even in a relatively authentic-looking place.
Despite my loss of enthusiasm for pizza, I still love it "in theory" and what better way to get your pizza on in the abstract than going for a cracker with pizza flavoring? I was compelled to buy these for a mere 120 yen ($1.56) by the illustration which shows a copious slathering of pizza seasoning on the top. It actually looks like it has more toppings than the average Japanese pizza on a relative scale.
Tearing open the foil packet, a task I always have trouble with because my puny girl muscles are fueled by years of anemic pizza, I caught a whiff of lovely Italian seasonings - Parmesan, oregano, tomato. The crackers are medium-sized (about 2/3 the size of my palm) and of the "soft" type in Japan, which is to say that they are crispy but airy instead of crispy and very thin. The seasoning was strong, but not too strong and had a nice zesty bite.
These were better than pizza, or at least better than the pizza I can get here. I loved them and gobbled down half the (decidedly small) bag in one sitting. These are a great companion to a soft drink and would also be excellent movie-watching fare. Honestly, if you want pizza and you're in Tokyo, you're probably better off with a bag of this sembei than with the real deal. You'll save money and calories and these taste better.