Shanghai is filled with fusion foods geared towards the local palate with some proving appetizing, while others are pants-crappingly terrifying. Throughout this Halloween season, we’re trying the most hyped (okay, hyped by laowai) Frankenfoods to see if they taste as scary as (laowai) people claim.
I thought nothing could match the horror of Pizza Hut’s seafood-hotdog special and I was wrong. Enter Papa John’s shrimp, tuna, and wasabi-mayo pizza, another magnificent rainbow of absolute awfulness.
Labelled “The Big Catch” on the menu, this pie may not have as many discordant elements as its Pizza Hut cousin – kinda hard to top tempura, squid, fish cake, pineapple, wasabi-mayo, and pineapple – but its trifecta of ingredients is worse than anything on the former. For one, they up the portion of wasabi-mayonnaise, that ingredient I know people like, but I swear is what you’re forced to snort rails of in Hell. Instead of the typical swirls they criss-cross every inch of this pie with it so becomes like a green laser grid of horrendousness that your teeth have to tap-dance around to reach the seafood below.
When they finally do, it’s out of the frying pan and into a maelstrom of funktastic shrimp, and overly-fishy cat food tuna, and the odd, but merciful pepper. It’s like someone took a buffet-goer’s stomach contents and slopped it on a pizza.
And just when you think you’ve reached the safety of the tomato sauce, you hit a patch of wasabi-mayo that’s been slathered in its place. It’s like a boot pressing your palate’s head into the mud after it’s already taken an ass-whooping. “Big Catch?” I’d rather catch syphilis.
Am I being a tad culturally insensitive? Probably. Does this sound weird coming from someone who makes a living eating fermented fish, creepy crawlies, and animal genitalia? Yeah… And while my go-to defense would usually be that the above foods have a cultural/historical significance in Chinese gastronomy whereas this pizza is another example of an American company’s confused pandering to the local palate, clearly this pie is a hit. Or at least enough of a hit to have been on the menu for as long as I can remember, and receive mostly positive reactions from locals I’ve talked to.
So basically, it boils down to the fact that everybody has a line, and this was mine – okay, one of them. And “The Big Catch” ripped that line out of the ground, spat in the hole where it was, and set it on fire.
Available at all Papa John’s locations.
See a complete list of our Freaky Frankenfoods series here.
Benjamin Cost is Shanghaiist’s Food Editor. Email tips, recommendations, and news updates on Shanghai’s dining scene to [email protected].