There’s a new love affair in town!
All of us may have adjusted to our unusual way of living, but some of us have gone beyond just adapting. Some of us have also reimagined.
Take it from the lovebirds Joan Teotico and Antonio Jose “AJ” Reyes who didn’t let this health crisis cripple them. They devoted their quarantine time to crafting a fusion dish Filipinos might learn to love.
When we were all crazy about sushi bake while on lockdown, Joan and AJ transformed the trending sushi recipe into another qurantine staple, the pizza. They layered all the sushi ingredients on top of flour tortilla and came up with this fusion of east and west that should be worth a try.
The Seafood Aburi Sushi Pizza is the bestseller so far. It combines seafood favorites – kani (crab’s meat), fresh salmon and tuna, nori (seaweeds) and tobiko (flying fish roe) caviar – with gari (marinated ginger), cucumber, and spring onion. With wasabi mayo and soy glaze tossed into the mix, the select ingredients are spread atop vinegared rice patched on a tortilla crust. And all of these are covered with handcrafted cheese sauce.
The cheese coat completes the savory goodness of the pizza. Torching the cheese sauce is a smart move to give it a smoky flavor. Other ingredients may be hidden but you won’t miss the nuances of flavors, especially the tiny bits of briny tobiko. Without overpowering the other flavorings, the wasabi mayo complements them, even highlights them. Though the tortilla seems a bit out of place in the making of a pizza, it adds inches of heft as well as a refreshing texture, even matching the thin layer of rice seasoned with sweet vinegar.
The marriage of the rice and tortilla is a perfect carbo combination. It’s going to hurt your diet but surely please your palate. Patching the vinegared rice on tortilla crust offers a totally different experience. It is as thin as a flatbread yet softer than a pan pizza.
There are two other variants: Spicy Salmon that boasts of fresh salmon tossed in sriracha mayo, gari, and tobiko then topped with soy glaze, handcrafted cheese sauce, nori, bonito and tempura flakes, and fried salmon skin; and their first creation, the Classic Tuna which is composed of tuna belly, kani, gari, soy glaze, sriracha mayo, handcrafted cheese sauce, tobiko, and tempura flakes.
The story behind the couple’s “babies” doesn’t ride with the popularity of the baked sushi. The reason they came up with the mashup is because they both love eating sushi and pizza on their birthdays or any special occasions, and random days when they need a dopamine hit.
The marriage of the rice and tortilla is a perfect carbo combination. It’s going to hurt your diet but surely please your palate.
This innovative idea, 1621 Sushi Pizza, was named after their birth dates. “Joan’s birthday is on Feb. 16, and my birthday is on Nov. 21. We brainstormed back in March and planned to launch this October. But we’ve been getting orders since early August,” AJ explains.
In January, Joan went to Los Angeles to train under Priscilla Ono, Rihanna’s makeup artist. AJ, on the other hand, was full time as a chef, doing private catering as well as food consultancy.
But then came Covid, and everything has since ground to a halt. Like a perfect match, perfect timing played a key role in the story of 1621 Sushi Pizza. It was the product of turbulence and a time so unprecedented that, with their jobs indefinitely put on hold, AJ and Joan found a new way to click together and made a new baby as a result of it.
Moving on, Joan now handles the marketing and communication side of 1621 Sushi Pizza, but she puts on an apron whenever AJ needs help in the kitchen. Apart from managing all the culinary aspects, AJ oversees finance, accounting, procurement, and logistics.
“Love” is the main ingredient of the couple’s sushi pizza. Not only is it the rhyme and reason behind their decision to take the plunge, it is also what keeps them going. “Having a business strengthens our relationship. We make it smooth through open communications, defining our roles and taking time off. We enjoy the work, and we have integrated it into our lives. It is possible to make love and business work,” Joan says.
The affordable sushi pizza are made fresh every day for customers to really enjoy it as comfort food. According to AJ, who makes a point of creating something diners will love and come back for, more sushi pizza varieties will be available soon.
AJ and Joan ensure that 1621 Sushi Pizza adheres to all WHO and DoH protocols. The health and safety of their team members and customers are their top priority, so they see to it that from crafting to delivery, the sushi pizza is virus-free.