I eat at Pizza Hut in Beijing all the time. Partly because it’s close to campus and partly because the brutality of Chinese restaurant competition is fun to watch.
Chinese restaurants are developing economy hyper-competition. They fight for the high-traffic and high-visibility locations. They fight for good managers. They try to localize to China and always need to refresh and up date their look, which means frequent renovations. They are now investing in digital and deliveries in a big way. And their menus are typically massive, with endless announcements about new and increasingly daring menu items. Hence this article.
I wrote this in a Beijing Pizza Hut where the menu had +35 pages, each packed with items. They were offering everything from pizza to steaks (no, I have never tried one of the steaks). And of the +35 pages, I counted only about 6-7 pages that actually have pizzas.
Here are the 5 strangest items I saw.
#5 – Stuffed Squid with Minced Shrimp
A new appetizer. I’m not sure what this is but it doesn’t look like squid in the picture. And stuffing seafood with another seafood seems wrong.
#4 – Hot Corn Juice
Yep. You can get a big glass of hot corn for 19 rmb. Or a pitcher for the table to enjoy(?) for 55 rmb.
#3 Bacon Wrapped Quail Eggs with Abalone Mushroom
This is an appetizer for 24 rmb. It doesn’t look awesome in the picture. A plate of little rolls with mysterious, pale insides (the quail eggs I assume). Both quail eggs and abalone mushroom are pretty weird.
#2 – Jumbo Shrimp Wrapped in Bacon with Basil Pesto Pizza
Wrapping various things in bacon seems to be pretty important here. The pizzas are all pretty unusual. Lots of seafood and chicken toppings. I can’t seem to find a regular pepperoni pizza.
This particular pizza is bizarre. It has shrimp, bacon, milan sausage, cherry tomato, corn (yes, again with corn), parsley and cheese.
#1 – Escargots
Six escargots for 40 rmb. There is nothing inherently weird about escargots. But serving them at Pizza Hut in China is pretty odd.
Runner up #1: Flavored soda with iced fruits
This is just a big soda. But they have big pieces of fruit frozen inside the ice cubs. It actually looks pretty good.
Runner up #2: Durian pizza
This isn’t on the menu today but I have seen it in the past. The smelly durians really do kind of ruin the mood. I think the entire Beijing staff of the Wall Street Journal made the trip to Pizza Hut just to try this and write it up.
That’s it. Thanks for reading. Cheers, jeff
I write and speak about “how rising Chinese consumers are disrupting global markets – with a special focus on digital China”.
Photo by Teddy Lambec, license link here.