Sunday, 28 September 2014

Harajuku Gyoza - Fortitude Valley

Being a self proclaimed Dumpling Connoisseur (amongst many of my other self proclaimed titles). Harajuku Gyoza had been on my long list of 'places to try' for quite some time.♥(✿ฺ´∀`✿ฺ)ノ. 

Last month, Brisbane hosted its first Noodle Night Market. There was no question of my attendance. One of the highlights of that night were the gyozas at Harajuku Gyoza, the most crispy, juicy and overall delightful gyozas I've had in Brisbane. They brought me much needed warmth in an otherwise chilly night. Needless to say. I put a priority on Harajuku Gyozas on my go to list (◍•ᴗ•◍)❤.

Please excuse the fuzzy photo, I was shivering from the cold that night <(。_。)>.

Last Monday, after a depressing morning at work, I decided that I needed some cheering up. I had been saving Harajuku Gyoza for this type of day, when I needed more encouragement to get on life.

Harajuku Gyoza is situated on Brunswick Street, a good 20 minutes walk from the CBD.
I had heard from a friend that the lines were quite substantive, so I decided to beat the crowd and get there at 11.30, and ended up being the first to go in.

The first thing you note when being seated is that everyone has a unique plate, with a little sauce dish.

Everyone is also given a placemat menu

As you can see the decor is quite youthful and vibrant.

Upon ordering Gyozas, I was presented with a sauce set, which comprised of soy sauce, vinegar and chili.

The blurb on the placemat shows the recommended portions for dipping sauce. Without having a personal preference yet, I adhered to the instructions provided.

The round sauce containers were really cute and reminded me of Christmas Baubles.

Completed 'HsiaoFu's dipping sauce' haha.

My order of Tonkotsu Pork Ramen and Grilled Pork Gyoza came together, which was a good start.

Although I am a big fan of ramen, I cannot say that I am intimately familiar with specific details. What I do know though, is that there are two main types of ramen soup, one that is the clear stock base with a curly egg-y flavoured noodle (apparently Tokyo Style), and one that is the rich creamy opaque stock base and a straight white plain noodle (apparently Hakata Style). Despite all the hype about the creamy type, I am definitely an avid fan of the Tokyo Style Ramen, which was the type offered by Harajuku Gyoza. Whilst the soup and noodles were good, the toppings needed a bit more work. The pork was very very fatty. Indeed the majority of the slice of pork was fat, with only a little strip of meat in it. The accompanying egg also needs a bit of work, because it was quite overcooked. The eggs usually accompanying ramen are cooked to a point where the egg yolk is in a semi liquid state. As you can see from the photo, the egg was pretty much fully cooked.

The Gyoza, unlike the egg was rather less cooked than I would have liked it to be. The one that I was served in Noodle Night Markets were cooked to perfection. These ones could have been a bit more grilled and caramelized, but nonetheless they were very juicy and flavorsome. This is probably because I was the first one there, maybe their grills weren't preheated enough by the time I ordered.
A word of warning though, the chili was very hot, so small amounts are more than sufficient. 

In terms of price, for a corporate lunch, I find it quite expensive, coming to $20 for one person. This is especially so, for the Gyoza cost $8 for five pieces. The price of ramen and don are quite reasonable, but why else would you go to a Gyoza bar other than for the specific purpose of eating Gyoza.

Overall, it was a nice solid experience from Harajuku Gyoza. Not mind blowing like my experience at Noodle Markets, but still good. Evidently they had all the main components down pat (noodles, soup, dumpling skin, filling), but need to focus more on attention to small things (char siu, egg, bottom of dumpling), to make it a very very good restaurant.

 I would recommend this place to friends, but only if you had a lot of time to wait in a line, and for special occasions where you would be willing to splurge for lunch.

Price Range: $20-$25 per person

Taste: 7/10
Value: 4/10
Service: 6/10
Environment: 7/10

Harajuku Gyoza on Urbanspoon

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