Harajuku Gyoza @ The Fortitude Valley

Brisbane has been buzzing with anticipation for the doors of its first gyoza joint, Harajuku Gyoza to be thrown open. Is it the happy benevolent smiling face of their mascot gyoza that is enticing us or have our Brisbanite prayers for more Japanese nom-noms been answered?

Having only just opened this week, you can expect a healthy crowd waiting to get into Harajuku Gyoza. We were lucky a table for two was available when we dropped in – a group of 3 arrived before us and weren’t seated until after we had ordered and got our beers (about 10 mins). And they were squeezed together at a table for 2.

So to those who intend to drop in as a larger group, be prepared to wait awhile out on the curb and watch the Brunswick Street traffic speed on by.

Seating is tight and cozy. I watched one lady at the gyoza bar with nowhere to put down her bag, balancing it precariously over her knee, so it would be great to have a couple of bag hooks under the table.

And with summer upon us, Harajuku Gyoza could also really do with upping their air-conditioning. The temperature inside as the sunset was barely comfortable, my thighs were sticking to the seat and our beer warmed far too quickly.

Harajuku Gyoza has a loud fun atmosphere. Staff yell out greetings to guests and saké orders, which are echoed throughout the restaurant. Everyone looks like they are having fun and the newer staff were being carefully guided by their colleagues.

The service we received was a little slow, but otherwise perfect. The table next to ours on the other hand, seemed to have at least 3 items delivered to them incorrectly and another order forgotten. An early-days teething issue, perhaps?

The menu is very simple: poached or grilled gyoza come in chicken, pork, duck, prawn and vegetable. Then there’s a small selection of side and izakaya dishes, beer and saké.

Whether poached (lovely slippery and smooth) or grilled (divinely crunchy and piping hot), the chicken and pork gyoza are delicious – great flavour and perfectly cooked. Go with those.

However if – like me – you adore duck, I’d say avoid the duck gyoza. The SO said the flavour just reminded him of sausage meat and while I don’t necessarily agree with that, the flavour didn’t take my fancy.

The same goes with the vegetable gyoza. After eating one, I was confused enough to spend 5 mins desiccating another to work out what was in it: onion, cabbage and something that is starchy and leaves a sandy texture in the mouth, almost as if the gyoza had been undercooked.
Note: According to their Facebook page, the vegetable gyoza is not vegan.

I’m a little undecided about the prawn gyoza. The prawn is beautifully plump and juicy, but it really is just gyoza skin wrapped around a prawn. I would’ve given it total thumbs-up if it were encased in a pork and prawn mince, but that’s probably my personal preference.

As to the dessert, it’s apple pieces and cinnamon stuffed gyoza served with a ho-hum vanilla ice-cream. Think apple pie, except much smaller.

Overall the food is ok, the portions for the price is alright for a snack if you’re not particularly hungry and the service still has a ways to go.

Will we visit again? Maybe. But without anything particular to draw us back, we probably won’t be stopping by again.

Poached chicken gyoza. AUD$8 for 5 pieces

Grilled pork gyoza. AUD$8 for 5 pieces

Grilled duck gyoza. AUD$8 for 5 pieces

Poached vegetable gyoza. AUD$8 for 5 pieces

Grilled prawn gyoza. AUD$8 for 3 pieces

Fried apple gyoza with vanilla ice-cream. AUD$9 for 3 pieces

Harajuku Gyoza on Urbanspoon