Home > Focus on Japan 2005 > Toppings


November 6th, 2005

Okay, trivial whining time again. About pizza toppings in Japan. Last time I ordered a custom-made pizza with specified toppings, one of the toppings was black olives. When the pizza arrived, a 10-incher with 8 slices, there were all of two black olive slices on any given piece, though a few pieces had three slices. Those slices were thin to begin with, and had shrunk with the cooking. Now, back in the states, when I add a topping, I expect there to be actually enough of it that I can taste it. Call me greedy.

One example is the Applewood pizza I would order at when back home. You order black olives as a topping, they actually put more than just a few olive slices on every piece. And they charge a dollar per topping on a 10-incher. Here in Japan, any given pizza place will put on a scant few pieces, as I described, and each “topping” costs three dollars. The pizza itself costs about 25% more than in the U.S., but the toppings is where they kill you here in Japan.

When I ordered a pizza tonight, I asked if their usual topping amount was like I’d experienced before, two olive slices a piece. They couldn’t answer except to say that a topping was determined by grams. $3 of black olives was 30 grams, before cooking of course (I can get a whole can, maybe 4 or 5 times as much, from Costco for less than half that price). Having olives available, I weighed out 30 grams, and lo, it came out to less than three slices of olive per one slice of pizza.

Can’t wait to get back to America so I can have a real pizza. And hey, have you found a real sub sandwich in Japan yet? I mean like a Togo’s Hot Pastrami with an inch of pastrami? Nothing even close to it here. And cold cuts–what’s with Japan and no cold cuts? The best you can hope for is the pre-packaged “Roast Ham” dreck sold in the supermarkets–there’s no such thing as a supermarket deli here that I’ve found, unless there’s a special one in Azabu or something. They sell something here called “chorizo,” but trust me, it has no relation to its namesake. Does anyone know of a place with real sliced meats? Or is that illegal in this country?

By the way, a bacon update: as I’d reported, what is called “bacon” in Japan is nothing but pre-cooked, flaccid, unsmoked ham, which some actually say is injected with a sugar substance of some kind. It’s certainly not bacon as Americans know it. But Japan does sell bacon, it’s just not called that–it’s called “pork bara,” commonly sold in supermarkets, in strips for yakiniku. I don’t know if it’s the same cut as bacon, but it certainly seems like it. With salt and smoked paprika (pimenton), it tastes as close to bacon as anything else I’ve found in Japan. It doesn’t crisp the same way, but otherwise it’s a close match.

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  1. GreenTrench
    November 17th, 2005 at 14:00 | #1

    Word. Bacon here sucks…

    As an aside, Just found your blog while looking up the birds that live in the hills above Mochimune Station.

    You have been bookmarked.

    Dig your take on things, and will be reading more.

    Later on,


  2. Luis
    November 17th, 2005 at 15:15 | #2


    Thanks! I like to be a public service. :-)

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