In my ongoing quest to eat at all the Japanese places in Brisbane, I stopped by at Ann Gyoza bar today. Working in the CBD, it actually took me a while to work out where it was, within the Emporium. Indeed, I almost gave up before stumbling upon it.
The restaurant has a decidedly traditional wooden theme, with a large wooden plaque hanging outside, and a portion of outdoor seating. Not being an ourdoors type of person, I opted to sit indoors.
The inside was in line with the outside, being of traditional Japanese style. I found it particularly interesting that they decorated the interior with sake casks. Definitely unusual and interesting at the same time.
I was quite surprised at how full it was for a Thursday lunch hour. I had literally taken the last remaining free table.
I was promptly seated and given a lunch menu. Lunch prices at Ann Gyoza Bar are significantly cheaper than dinner prices.
I was very impressed with the water being served immediately after ordering.
Just after being impressed with the water, you can imagine how astounded I was when my bento arrived well within 5 minutes of my ordering. I spent several minutes seriously contemplating whether or not they had pre cooked all the bentos in anticipation of people ordering, to come to the later realisation that my bento was composed of rice, salad and salmon sashimi, none of which really required cooking (except the rice).
In terms of the salmon, I found it exceptionally fresh! It was also perfectly chilled, to the point where it didnt taste like it came straight out of the fridge, but didnt taste like it had been left out for too long. My only concern with it was the portion being a bit on the small side.
The salad was also fresh, like the salmon. It had a light and tangy sauce on it, and the lettuce thankfully did not have the blackened ends that some other salads do. There wasn't that much rice, which was good actually, because I did not have that much sashimi, but for those who do appreciate rice, they offer free extra rice.
The main thing I was anticipating though, was their Gyoza. I mean, how can you go to a gyoza bar and leave without trying their gyoza? So I ordered the pork gyoza to go with my tower bento. As you can see it was served on a hot plate, with sauce on the side, which you can add to your liking.
I found the juices to be very tasty, and complimented the dumpling filling well. What struck me was the how thin the dumpling skins were, but I would have liked it better if the bottoms of the dumplings had a bit more crunch to them.
Having been to a number of dumpling bars, I would consider Ann Gyoza Bar to be well above the average compared to the other offerings in Brisbane, but in the context of Japanese Gyoza, I still prefer Harajuku Gyoza.
Value: 4/10 (rather expensive for a small portion)
Service: 8/10 (super quick and efficient)