Wherever in the world novelty food items break, our fad food correspondent, Jon Gabrus, will be there to eat it and report back. Have a tip? Send it to us at CHWanderlunch@Gmail.com
One time, after college, I was out drinking with some co-workers and randomly ended up at Port Authority Bus Terminal and headed to Atlantic City at like 1 in the morning. I thought this was a pretty bad ass, spontaneous, and over-indulgent thing to do.
Until Thursday night when I got the call seeing if I was free this weekend to fly to Dubai. Yup that's right, Gabrus flying to Dubai on a moment's notice. What a baller!
I had never been, I didn't know anything about it, but Collegehumor wanted me to go take on The Crown Crust Carnival Pizza from Pizza Hut Middle East. Yes, that is correct, I was going to fly 13 hours, 6,850 miles, just to eat a pizza with cheeseburgers baked into the crust. Disgusting? I know. And I could not wait.
I woke up at 7:30AM in Brooklyn on Friday, got into a cab and in a short time ended up in Dubai in the UAE on Saturday at 9AM. Time flies when you drink 2 bottles of red wine and watch 6 movies as you fly halfway across the world.
I have never been in the Middle East, certainly never by myself, and certainly never with the sole reason being for me to eat at a restaurant. A chain restaurant. An AMERICAN chain restaurant. My inner Brooklyn Hipster was severely disappointed, but my outer Fat Adventurer was severely stoked.
There is a slight sense of dread, can I handle this? Will I be able to find the pizza hut? My stomach is doing flips like it used to before football games.
The time has come, I get in the elevator and head to the lobby, walk out to the cab stand in front of my hotel and ask the most Fat American question I have ever asked. "Can you please take me to the closest Pizza Hut?" The driver was embarrassed for me, he asked 3 follow ups about exactly where I wanted to go. It wasn't a language barrier; he was disgusted. On the ride to the 'restaurant' he got on his phone (cabbies talk on their phone in Dubai too!!!) and I couldn't understand what he was saying but the only not Arabic word was 'Pizza Hut.' I could only assume he was calling an ambulance and saying, "Have someone waiting at the Pizza Hut. I am dropping off a sweaty, bearded, sleep-deprived pig-monster. He will probably drop dead after eating the Crown Crust Carnival." How could he know?!
He drops me off, after about 10 minute of me figuring out the exchange rate for Dirhams (1 UAE Dirham = 0.2723 US Dollars). I bounded up the stairs into 'the Hut' (bounding up these steps will be the only athletic thing I do for 2 weeks in either direction). I walk in and it feels pretty strange. Then I realized that it's not strange because it is Dubai, it is strange because it is a Pizza Hut. I haven't been into a Pizza Hut in like 20 years. Once you move to NYC you don't really go to chain pizza places anymore (except for Ray's). There are some small differences in the Dubai Pizza Hut. There seems to be evidence of a sad birthday, that happened a couple days ago, but they haven't taken down the decorations.
Did someone give birth here?
Then came the most major difference: THE MENU. They had three different Crown Crust Pizzas!!! Burger, Chicken Sandwich, and Cream Cheese.
Behold, Pizza Hut's Crown Crust Carnival Cheeseburger Pizza
I was here to eat the burger one, so I ordered a large within 5 minutes of sitting down. My lovely waitress lets me know that it will be 17 minutes till the pizza is ready (they have this down to a science, an evil/mad/unlawful science, but a science nonetheless). She did ask me if I wanted an appetizer to hold me over for the 17 minutes before I ate a large pizza all to myself. What kind of apps do they have that can be cooked/served and eaten in under 17 minutes? I think I'll be ok with just the pizza.
I sat filling with anxiety as I waited for my assignment. I would love to pretend that I was doing this purely for the assignment part. It's a living, but, in all honesty, the second I saw the video about this pizza, I wanted to try it. When Streeter called me to ask if I would ever fly to Dubai just to eat the Crown Crust, I said sure, sounds like fun. When he called an hour later and said, can you go this weekend, we are going to book tickets. Thats when I realized what I was getting myself into. It was all coming down to this moment.
Maybe ketchup will work on a pizza with cheeseburgers on it.
I thought I smelled something that smelled like indulgence, gluttony, ridiculousness (not Rob Drydek). I did! 'Twas the pizza! I almost forgot to take a picture of it, as I went immediately for the first slice, I was grabbing the spatula out of the woman's hand to get started on it. I just flew 13 hours to get it, I wasn't about to wait another minute.
Just like it looks in the ads!
My first primal response to eating, the thing that hit my taste buds and the lizard part of my brain was
Russian Dressing!? That's the special sauce? What a let down, also what a quick reminder that I haven't had russian dressing since I discovered blue cheese/sour cream/chipotle mayo. Luckily the entire pizza wasn't doused in it, so it was very edible. Despite there being an abundance of veggies on this. I want a pizza with cheese and beef! I didn't think I would get all that lettuce and tomato too (I may have detected some pickles on the pizza, and that I was VERY ok with). If I wanted veggies, I probably would have ordered something else.
The pizza was thin-crust, which I was not expecting. I thought it would be a deep-dish filled with goodness like the Stuffed Crust Pizzas of yore. Also, as you can expect, the pizza looked nothing like the pizza I saw in the commercial. It was smaller, thinner, and all around greyer.
The beef was "McDonald's Grey"
I hammered down slices and it was definitely good, in an over-indulging type way. The beef was sweet which gave it a sausage-y vibe (something I am told I have as well). I couldn't finish the pie, my body was going into lack of sleep/ODing on sodium mode. All I could think about was how tired and how thirsty I was and how ridiculous this whole thing was.
I tried so desperately to get the waitress to do an interview about the pizza or even just to get someone besides me and my three chins on camera. I even told her, I am working for a company that flew me out here from America to try this pizza and write about it. And her only response was 'Oh a company!' I knew that there was a bit of a language barrier or that she is generally impressed with companies. She then asked me 'Would you like something sweet?' After I realized there was no sexual connotation, I realized that she was asking if I wanted dessert. I couldn't even imagine eating anything else (except maybe I should have picked the pizza with the chicken tenders cooked into it). No sweets for me. That would be a little gluttonous
Jon Gabrus impressed this Dubai Pizza Hut employee by working for "a company."
While waiting for a cab another man asked me what I was doing in Dubai and I told him eating at Pizza Hut
but also I am writing about it
Which I think is my weekend equivalent to 'asking for a friend.' I am here to sleep with drag queens
but also I am writing about it.I am here to jerk off in an expensive hotel
but also I am writing about it.I am here to eat at Pizza Hut
but also I am writing about it.
I am now back in my hotel room writing this up in between bathroom sessions (good thing I packed baby wipes
and there is a bidet in the room), pounding bottles of water from the mini-bar trying to keep my eyes open.
It's like they knew I'd be eating the Crown Crust Carnival Pizza.
In the end I left my house for about 72 hours and I will be on a plane for about 26 of those hours. I have only 2 words left to say: Worth It.
More of Gabrus' pictures from his Middle Eastern pizza adventure
Always pack baby wipes when you travel around the world to eat junk food.
I have no idea what this is, but I watched it for half an hour.
Open late, so you can eat