Monday, February 1, 2016

No Donkey Today, Just Durian Pizza in Shenzhen

For a late lunch today in Shenzhen, I headed to the COCO Park — a trendy shopping mall with a number of restaurants. After all of the recent posts about donkey meat, I was in the mood to try something different.

In the mall's central courtyard area outside, an advertisement for a Vietnamese restaurant tempted me.

advertisement for a vietnamese restaurant at COCO Park in Shenzhen

But the restaurant didn't fit the "different" category for me.

Inside the mall I saw a banner inside advertising the Sajiao Chilli Restaurant. It promised "ALL FOODS ARE USED ONLY ONCE!"

advertisement for Sajiao Chilli Restaurant with the claim "ALL FOODS ARE USED ONLY ONCE!"

I typically eat food which has only been used once. So, again, tempting but not different. Or at least I hope so.

Next, from afar I spotted WareHouse.

WareHouse pizza restaurant at COCO Park in Shenzhen

Their pizza was tempting too, but it still couldn't pass the "different" test.

But I didn't have to give up hope on enjoying some pizza. Fortunately, I was able to find an appropriate restaurant next to a large sign promoting it.

La César restaurant at COCO Park in Shenzhen

Like WareHouse, La César specializes in pizza.

More important for today's goal, it specializes in a pizza I had never tried before. No, not donkey meat pizza (still haven't seen that). The main ingredient for their famous pizza is durian — a fruit that evokes a wide range of responses from people. Some can't bear the smell. Some are attracted to the fruit so much they wonder if people have died from durian overdoses. I fall into the latter category, and someday I will write an ode, or perhaps just a post, about durian. Today is just for durian pizza.

The restaurant allows you to order a pizza with two different toppings at no extra cost. So for one half I ordered the standard durian topping (there are pricier varieties of durian available) and for the other half I went for a black mushroom topping with tomato sauce (they have a number of other non-durian options as well).

half durian and half mushroom pizza at La César at COCO Park in Shenzhen

The half and half option is an excellent offering since the durian pizza is sweet and could serve as a dessert. One drawback is that the strong durian smell can coverup some of the smells from the other pizza. Ideally, I would want the durian half of the pizza brought out later, though it's hard to escape durian smells regardless since the durian pizza is a popular choice.

The results? Keeping the dessert theme in mind, I started with the more savory mushroom side. It was good although more fresh basil would have been appreciated. The crust reminded me of Little Caesars in the U.S.

The all-important durian side was pretty good as well. It works, though I'm not sure the cheese was really necessary other than for texture. Which leads to my common impression when trying durian ice cream, durian cookies, etc. I like them but often feel like I would be better off just eating a plain durian.

If you like pizza and you like durian, the durian pizza will probably pass. As long as the half/half option remains, I can see myself returning someday. Tomorrow, I look forward to seeing whether leftover durian pizza works for breakfast.

advertisement with monkeys for La César at COCO Park in Shenzhen

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