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Review: pizzas by way of Tokyo shine through at Gusta Sourdough Pizza Co.

Pizza restaurants in Singapore have been down the well trodden path of Neapolitan and Neo-Neapolitan pies. But Sean Lai has looked somewhere else far from Italy and America to create Gusta Sourdough Pizza Co.

Japan, to be exact. The country has spawned a distinct style that is delicate, assertively salted, and consciously local, or what Eater deemed as “Tokyo Neapolitan.” And it has gained a strong cult following.

“If you watch the Netflix show [“Ugly Delicious”], the first place they went to for pizza was not Italy, but Japan,” Lai said.

The founder and self-taught chef has transported this to Gusta, which replaced Lai’s former Cottontail Creamery cafe. Shelved under a Serangoon HDB block – neighbours include a greasy biryani restaurant and a tired provision shop – he is baking pizzas that would roil purists like the governmental True Neapolitan Pizza Association.

Mala chicken (Image credit: Gusta Sourdough Pizza Co.)

Lai’s design starts with the base. Made with a blend of Italian and Japanese flours, a sourdough starter “for aromatics,” he said, and French sea salt from Guérande, the dough is proofed for up to 30 hours then rolled out into 12-inch circles with a slight rim. Baked in an electric oven over a Neapolitan clay pizza stone, the blistered crust yields to reveal large, stretchy holes with a soft chew. Smear it with the house-made chilli oil, which contains five different types of pepper that are gently fried until they smell like fish sauce, Lai said.

Gusta’s toppings are split into three categories: classic, premium, and vegan, which hold familiar faces like Margherita and Marinara, even Hawaiian. But the house flavours are equally rewarding. Mala Chicken is a heady mix of Sichuan pepper cream sauce and crunchy meat, and Mushrooms and Truffle Oil is earthy and sensuous.

From left: Mushrooms & Truffle Oil pizza, Roast Beef (Image credit: Gusta Sourdough Pizza Co.)

From Lai’s Swiss background comes Raclette Cheese & Potato. It’s carbs on carbs, but the thinly sliced spuds and spicy paprika lightens it up considerably. Lai also turns Roberta’s signature Bee Sting into the Calabrese Salami. Pay for the optional garlic maple syrup (S$2.50), and it becomes bright, honeyed, and slightly gamey. “It brings back memories of eating bak kwa,” he said.

From the sides, Roast Beef hints at the Piedmontese staple of Vitello Tonnato with sous-vide wagyu slices, sharp chimichurri sauce, and horseradish mayonnaise. Stracciatella & Vine Tomatoes pairs smooth stringy cheese and ripe juicy fruits with tangy house-made basil oil.

In the future, Lai plans to serve three-feet long pizzas that can be customised with up to four different flavours – a product of his rectangular oven – as well as seasonal styles like fresh black truffle, which diners can choose the amount of shavings they want on top. “We want to make pizzas here, but fine-dining style,” he said.

Pizzas: S$18.50 – S$27.50 each
Sides: S$9.50 – S$18.50 each

Gusta Sourdough Pizza Co. is located at 326 Serangoon Ave 3, #01-378, Singapore 550326. Walk-ins only.

Review: pizzas by way of Tokyo shine through at Gusta Sourdough Pizza Co.

Jethro Kang

Jethro enjoys wine, biking, and climbing, and he's terrible at all three. In between them, he drinks commercial lagers, and eats dumplings and gelati.

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