* Italian/Asian fusion goes right back to 13th century explorer Marco Polo
* Both cuisines have elements in common such as the use of rice and pasta/noodles as a central carbohydrate along with fresh seasonal ingredients — which makes fusing flavours and styles easier
* Popular Asian flavours and ingredients can be incorporated into pasta dishes and pizza toppings with positive results
* Inventive chefs are experimenting with these flavours and others such as Korean kimchi and Japanese Kewpie mayonnaise to evoke a distinctive Asian flavour and memorable presentation

The concept of food fusion — taking elements from two (or more) different cuisine styles and blending them together — has been part of cooking for as long as chefs have been travelling and assimilating different influences into their creations.
The fusion of Asian and Italian cuisine can be traced right back to Marco Polo, the famous 13th century Italian explorer and merchant who travelled throughout Asia and brought spices, recipes and ingredients back home. With Asian and Italian cuisine both so popular in Australia today, it’s no surprise that creative and resourceful chefs and restaurateurs are seeking to contemporise their menus by looking at combining the best of both styles to come up with something distinctively different.
Both Asian and Italian meals are frequently built around a centrepiece of carbs (rice/noodles/pasta) plus a protein and vegetable component. Both make extensive use of fresh regional ingredients, particularly seafood, and both favour recipes with relatively simple and straightforward preparation.
In Japan, where Italian food has been popular since its introduction after World War II, Italian style pasta is known as wafu and includes typical Japanese ingredients as oysters, prawns and whitebait. The popularity and easy availability of these in Australia means that creating Japanese/Italian fusion dishes is a relatively easy task, and one that creative restaurateurs are keen to take advantage of.
At Double Cross in the popular inner-Sydney restaurant strip of Crows Nest, chef/owner Samuel Lee and business partner Quinton Ng are building a reputation for their fusion dishes such as Mentaiko Spaghetti, which features a soy sauce and lemon base topped with crème fraiche and egg.
Inventive chefs are also finding that popular Asian flavours and ingredients such as teriyaki, lemongrass or kimchi can also be incorporated into pizza toppings with mouth-watering results.
At Pizza Religion in Melbourne’s East Hawthorn, an Asian-inspired signature dish is Soft Shell Crab with Kimchi, Coriander and Kewpie Mayonnaise. The kimchi is arranged on top of the pizza base which has first been coated with Perfect Italiano Mozzarella and cooked. On top of the kimchi goes the sliced crab meat with coriander and spring onion slices sprinkled over, then finished with the Japanese Kewpie mayo — evoking a distinctive Asian flavour and memorable presentation.
Champion pizzamaker and longtime Club Perfect Ambassador Theo Kalogeracos of Little Caesar’s Pizzeria in Perth has also been keen to adapt the flavours of Asian cuisine to the menu, as exemplified by his Birds of Tokyo Pizza (inspired by and named after a local band in which Theo’s mate Ian plays!). This features roasted chicken in teriyaki sauce sprinkled with sesame seeds atop a base of garlic and Perfect Italiano mozzarella — as the pizza cooks, the sesame seeds toast and impart a distinctive flavour which complements the teriyaki chicken. After cooking, Theo adds thinly sliced pickled cucumbers — an even amount on each slice — then swirls Kewpie mayonnaise over and sprinkles with parsley to serve.
There’s plenty of scope for your own creativity in developing Asian/Italian fusion dishes, whether pizza, pasta or beyond — all it takes is your imagination and a little experimentation with ingredients to see which flavours and styles complement each other best. Try adding some of your own inventions to the specials board and see which prove a hit with customers!
Birds of Tokyo pizza
Birds of Tokyo pizza
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