If you think Americans have gone a little too crazy over Detroit-style pizza, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Meet Katsuya Fukushima, the chef and co-owner of Tonari in Washington, D.C., who has taken Motown’s best-known dish in an entirely new and decidedly exotic direction.

Call it Japanese-style Detroit-style pizza.

“The Japanese are good at borrowing from others and making it their own,” Fukushima once told the Washington Post. And when you’re talking about food, the proper term for that is wafu, which simply means Japanese-style.

Related: Has an entirely new pizza style emerged on the West Coast?

Italian food went over big in Japan when it was introduced there after WWII by Italian-American GIs. Once Japanese chefs adopted the cuisine and modified it to their own tastes, it became known as wafu-Italian. And according to Tonari’s website, it’s everywhere now, served in thousands of restaurants in Japan’s major cities.

Fukushima is an American by birth, but he journeyed to Japan to study the art of wafu-Italian. There, as he explained to Saveur, he discovered the best Neapolitan pizza he’d ever had, served at a restaurant called Monk.

When he returned to the U.S. and opened Tonari with a couple of business partners, he still had both Monk and Motown on his mind. “The reason why we went with Detroit-style pizza?” he explained, with a sheepish grin, in a video for Vice. “Honestly, it’s because I’m not good at stretching dough.”

Fukushima makes his wafu pizza dough with 100% Hokkaido wheat flour produced by a mill in Japan, plus Japanese rice oil, yeast, salt, sugar and water. After proofing the dough for three days, he places it in a traditional Detroit-style blue-steel square pan, coats the pan and the dough ball in more rice oil for extra crunch, then proofs it for two more hours.

The crust, he told Vice, “is super-light and has this beautiful chew to it, almost like mochi.”

One of Tonari’s most popular pies is called Chef Katsuya’s Original Mentaiko & Corn. Fukushima tops the dough with brick cheese, followed by a sweet sauce made from strained corn and, after the bake, large dollops of a cream made with labneh, Japanese mayo and cod roe.

Other wafu pizzas on the Tonari menu: the Unagi (BBQ eel, brick cheese, green peppercorns and dill labneh); the Japanese Philly (shaved prime rib marinated in soy sauce and mirin, brick cheese, provolone, Cheese Whiz, red onions and ichimi); and the Chicken & Shishito (sweet Italian chicken sausage, brick cheese, fontina, red onions, pickled rakkyo pearl onions, chili flakes and a basil garlic aioli).

“There’s no other pizza in town quite like Tonari’s,” the Washington Post reported in 2020. That article described Fukushima’s crust as “seductive—pillowy in the center, crisp on the edges [and] faintly sweet (like Japanese bread).”

For his part, Fukushima knows he’s onto something amazing. “We’re going to bring our wafu pizza to the world and take over,” he told Vice. “You’re gonna love it. I love it, you’re gonna love it.”

Food & Ingredients