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June 18, 2017

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‘Yang Jing Bang’ innovator invests in a slice of pie

NATHANIEL Alexander is known in town by organizing pop-up events with his own version of Chinese food under his “Yang Jing Bang” brand (inauthentic Chinese food). But recently, he had taken a different direction: launching a neighborhood pizzeria specializing in slices.

His new venture Homeslice opening its door in the popular food and beverage complex Found 158 on Julu Road, appealing to those who prefer a simple fare and socialize in the evenings.

“I had always loved eating pizza and didn’t have many places in Shanghai where I was satisfied, so I set out to make my ideal crust. I’d never actually made pizza before last September, so it’s been a fascinating and fast learning curve,” Alexander said.

Homeslice specializes in New York style pizza. In New York one can get slices everywhere, as common as places selling baozi here. The interior graphics on the wall are inspired by the New York metro system and it gives off a relaxing vibe to have a quick bite.

New York style pizza uses high gluten bread flour and the cooking method is to use predominantly bottom heat at a lower temperature for a longer time than, for example, Neapolitan, which uses a much higher temperature in a curved oven which intensifies the heat all around. A New York style pie for slices is usually 18 inches while the pies here are 20 inches across.

“While I wasn’t setting out to do an elevated version of slices, I can’t help trying to perfect different elements,” he said. “My main focus in developing our pizzas was the crust — this is the most important part to me. Everything we do is about maximizing the flavor of the dough. We use a sour dough starter and very little yeast and then ferment our dough balls for at least 48 hours at very low temperature.”

One can simply choose the different toppings by looking at the display table: some of the toppings are very traditional (cheese, pepperoni) and some are not — they are just great flavor combinations that work.

According to Alexander, Pepperoni (25 yuan/slice) is the biggest seller here and the meat pizza (30 yuan/slice), with Homeslice’s own fennel sausage, pepperoni and onion is very popular as well. I’ve tried different pies here and the white pizza (25 yuan/slice), with garlic, ricotta and mozzarella, is my favorite.

Homeslice has a mixture of local and foreign customers as the slices are very accessibly priced between 20 and 30 yuan. They also started working with Sherpa’s by offering 16 inch pies through them.

“Originally I designed Homeslice as something suitable for this particular space, but the response to our pizzas has been so good that we’ve realized it makes sense to open another store or two. We’re starting to look for spaces at the moment,” Alexander added.


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