Domino’s Pizza has never been one to be bound by orthodox culinary traditions, and that goes double for the chain’s Japanese division. Our tongues still remember the sting of Domino’s Japan’s tsundere pizza, and now they’ve come up with something even more shocking: tapioca boba pizza.
Officially, the new menu item is called the “Late to the Party Tapioca Pizza” (Imasara Tapioka Piza, if you’re ordering in Japanese). The name itself is an open admission from Domino’s that they’re hopping on the tapioca trend, or, more accurately, that tapioca is hopping onto its pizza, a bit after the peak of the boba craze that recently swept Japan. But “better late than never” is a pizza philosophy we can accept, and so as soon as the Tapioca Pizza went on sale on April 20, we ordered one.
▼ Our 2,100-yen pizza arrived at our doorstep via Domino’s Japan new Zero Contact delivery system.
Right off the bat, we should make clear that Domino’s Japan is in no way presenting the Tapioca Pizza as an authentic taste of Italy. At the same time, though, it’s not one of those pseudo-pizza desserts that only looks like a pizza while actually being a giant open-faced crepe, since the Tapioca Pizza is made with the same cheese as Domino’s non-boba pies (though without any tomato sauce).
▼ Those might look like olives, but they’re actually tapioca bubbles.
It’s not like Domino’s just took a plain cheese pizza and sprinkled some boba on it after they pulled the pie out of the oven, either. A close-up inspection reveals that the base of the pearls, and sometimes the entire sphere, is covered in melted cheese, showing that the boba is added before baking.
As you might expect, it takes a moment of mental processing before you can convince your brain to bite into a slice of tapioca pizza. But the more we thought about it, the more we felt like maybe this isn’t as crazy as it seems. Cassava, the principal ingredient in tapioca, is cooked and eaten as a non-dessert in certain cultures. We were pleasantly surprised by the tapioca ramen we tried in Tokyo, and we even recall some weirdos making tapioca bubble rice in their rice cooker, so maybe Domino’s knows what they’re doing?
So we took a bite and it was extremely confusing.
The cheese tasted great. The crust tasted great. With each bite, though, there was a slight but unmistakable sticky sweetness, clearly coming from the tapioca. The tapioca’s stickiness and sweetness are different from the cheese’s, but the two blend together into a harmonious yet mysterious combination that’s unlike anything we’re used to in pizzas or desserts.
Because of that, we can’t just come right out and say “It’s delicious!” but it’s equally impossible to say it tastes bad. Usually, that’d leave us with “It tastes OK,” but that’s way too ordinary of a phrase for describing how unique the eating experience is.
Believe it or not, things can get even more unusual, since the Tapioca Pizza comes with packets of maple sauce for you to drizzle onto your slice.
So is the Tapioca Pizza better with or without the sauce? Again, that’s hard to say. There’s more for your taste buds to process with the presence of the sauce, but if you’re of the mind that tapioca pizza, in and of itself, already has enough going on, you could make a case for it being better without.
Trying to figure out where our preference lies, we alternated between using and not using the maple sauce, but were still unable to form an iron-clad opinion one way or another when we noticed we only had one slice left.
Our immediate reaction was “Ah, we should have ordered another one!” and in the end, that’s a pretty good sign that as weird as it may be, Domino’s Late to the Party Tapioca Pizza isn’t bad at all.
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