Monday, March 02, 2009

"The Great Pizza Hunt" at Mr. Pizza Factory

A while back, I decided to start a new restaurant series for my dining group, Pleasure Palate, revolving around pizza. Considering how many pizza joints are in Los Angeles, I knew that this would be a dining series that would probably take me into infinity, but you gotta do, what you gotta do sometimes, so "The Great Pizza Hunt" was on.

When it comes to pizza, Korean food doesn't usually come to mind, so when I heard about Mr. Pizza Factory, which is part of a Korean pizza franchise company and one of two restaurants in the US, my interest was piqued. Then I heard more about their specialty pizzas which were comprised of an interesting mix of ingredients and I knew I had to check this place out.

Stepping into Mr. Pizza Factory in Koreatown, I have to say that it seemed quite a fancy place just for pizza, but a little ambiance never hurt any restaurant. As we were perusing the menu, we were served complimentary pickles as a starter. I was actually half expecting small bowls of panchan to come out, but had to settle for the pickles. Having already done some research, I already had an idea for what our group was going to order and with a buy 1, get a second one for 50% off in honor of the grand opening of another location, our group of 13 ordered both medium and large sizes of 4 different pizzas.

As we were waiting for our pies to arrive, some of us walked over to the pizza tossing/making booth where we saw pizza dough rolled out, flipped in the air and than passed on down the line to be topped with sauce, cheese and other ingredients before being put into the oven. It was like pre-show entertainment before the main event.

Finally, it was indeed time for the main event. The first pizza to arrive was the Potato Gold. Ingredients included tomato sauce, mushrooms, ground beef, corn, onions, potatoes, cheddar cheese, bacon, nacho chips, sour cream and it had a sweet potato mousse stuffed pizza crust. It was the sweet potato mousse stuffed crust that I've heard raves about and I have to say that after eating your way through all those savory ingredients, it's almost like having dessert once you got to the end of your slice of pie.

There was quite a cornucopia of stuff on this pizza, but it worked. It was almost like having a baked potato pizza, if that makes any sense. I had visions of a baked potato bar where the toppings are endless and could include any or most of the ingredients that were currently on the Potato Gold.

Next to hit the table was the Nude Shrimp Pizza. I'm not quite sure where the "nude" reference came from, but the ingredients for this pie consisted of salsa sauce, mushroom, ground beef, corn, onion, bell pepper, olives, yellow chili, bacon, Cajun shrimp, blue cheese sauce with a cream cheese mousse stuffed crust.

The Nude Shrimp pizza definitely was ingredient heavy was well. Usually, I don't use a knife and fork when it comes to eating pizza, but found myself employing both for most of the pizza I had that evening. Picking up a slice and eating by hand meant losing some ingredients to your plate at times, so the utensils were quite useful. In terms of how this pizza tasted, it definitely had more of a kick than the Potato Gold pizza. It wasn't ultra spicy by any means, but there was some heat, which actually went well with the slight pungency of the blue cheese sauce. For those who can't handle any spiciness at all, the cream cheese mousse stuffed crust probably helped ease any burn one may have been feeling on their tastebuds.

Of the four pizzas we tried, the most disappointing one was the Bulgogi Pizza - disappointing because it really highlighted the flaws of Mr. Pizza Factory's pies. Along with bulgogi beef, there were also onions, bell peppers and mushrooms on this pizza. Bulgogi beef should be fairly intensely marinated and you would think that baking in an oven, the meat would caramelize and add really great flavor to the pizza as a whole. Again, what a disappointment.

The bulgogi was hard and had the texture of over cooked ground beef. Overall, this pizza had no real flavor to it. It was by eating the bulgogi pizza that exposed something interesting about the pizzas overall. The first two had a lot of different ingredients, all very savory and than of course, both had either sweet potato or cream cheese stuffed crusts. If you took all that "stuff" away and were left with a plain cheese pizza, the foundation isn't very good. The bulgogi wasn't cutting it, but if you still had a great crust, a tasty sauce and a quality cheese, you'd still have a great slice of pizza, which wasn't the case. The flavorful ingredients of the Potato Gold and Nude Shrimp Pizzas did a great job disguising a crust, sauce and cheese that was just okay.

Our last and final pizza was actually one of Mr. Pizza Factory's newest offerings and like the first two was considered one of their specialty pizzas. Called the Gesal Montand Gold Pizza, ingredients included an Alfredo cream sauce, ground beef, onion, bell pepper, crab, paprika, bacon, cheddar cheese, oregano, blue cheese dressing, parsley with a sweet potato mousse stuffed pizza crust.

While the Bulgogi Pizza had no flavor, the flavors of the Gesal Montand Gold Pizza just did not jive at all and that's being polite. In fact, one slice was enough for me and only half a slice at that. First, the crab didn't taste right to me. It had an off flavor. Not that it wasn't cooked, but what ever they marinated it in or coated it with, my taste buds were not happy with at all. I don't think the Alfredo cream sauce meshed well with the blue cheese dressing. There was also an overall tangy taste to the pizza that I couldn't get past.

Overall, dining at Mr Pizza Factory was an interesting foodie experience. While I enjoyed half the pizzas my group tried, it's definitely not a destination pizza place for me. The way they put together certain ingredients for their specialty pizzas was really hit and miss. It either worked well or bombed. Also, I don't think the essential parts of the pizza like the crust, cheese and sauce really shined through here. You almost need to have tons of toppings to hide those short comings. If I was ever craving something hearty and was in the neighborhood with friends, I'd definitely be up for sharing a Potato Gold or Nude Shrimp pizza, but for a simpler pizza, there are too many other options I'd consider first.

To see pics, go to:

Mr. Pizza Factory
3881 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90010
(213) 738-0077

Mr Pizza Factory on Urbanspoon


WeezerMonkey said...

I've passed this place SO MANY times and always wondered what was inside, but I could never bring myself to go in because of all the other tasty things available in K-town!

Exile Kiss said...

Hi Abby,

Thanks for the great review! :) It looks like a colorful spot, but as you said, if the foundation is no good, it really hurts a pizza, especially if the other toppings fail.

pleasurepalate said...

WM: Now the mystery has been solved. :) So are you going to check it out for yourself?

EK: As long as you stick with the Potato Gold and Shrimp Nude, you'll be just fine.

Hog Hunting Texas said...

Mouthwatering post it seems to be very delicious i would love to go there.

Michael chnya said...

I usually visit Italian Restaurants pizza hut for Pizza and other items, great taste to enjoy the dining experience.