Get Your Fill At Gyoza Bar, Covent Garden

13 Sep 2016

London over the past few years has seen an incredible surge in uber-trendy, one-food restaurants. Culprits like Burger & Lobster, Chicken Shop, Arancini Bros, Balls & co. It's all about the lack of choice, rather than having plenty of it.

I’d heard about Gyoza Bar amongst the many niche restaurants and wanted to try it out, but never seemed to be around Leicester Square looking to eat. Most likely as being like any true Londoner I avoid tourist traps. But we pushed through the crowds on a warm Friday evening nonetheless, eager to feast on delicious Japanese dumplings.

It’s a small restaurant, with the kitchen at the front teasing you as you walk in with many a food smell. We were seated at the back, which suited us very nicely although the restaurant was empty, particularly so for a Friday night. During our stint there, people came and went very quickly, making us think that this isn’t a place where you linger.

I’m going to start by saying it: we over-ordered on food. It’s not our fault, I promise, the charming waitress seduced us into it. Try this, she said throughout the meal. We nodded, bellies full, and it appeared.

We started off with some salty edamame beans (£3.50), the traditional beginning to a Japanese meal and the omakase (£5.50), four little pots of Japanese starters like seaweed salad and Crispy Chips. A small oversight on my part meant that we also ordered a separate portion of Crispy Japanese Chips (£3.80), but they were so good neither of us cared. Served with a spicy mayo, the crunchy, panko covered, melting sweet potato was the star of the show.

We also shared two of the Bao buns on the menu. Bao buns are another trend item I’ve recently become addicted to – pillowy soft buns with delicious fillings also seem to be a “one item” restaurant favourite. But anyway, we shared a Chicken Katsu Bun and Lamb Jalapeno Bun. (£4.50 each) Both were excellent and full of flavour.

And so we went on, as we were there to try the namesake of the restaurant. We were notified that for any of the gyoza, you could choose between having them cooked deep fried, pan fried or steamed.  We shared the Gyoza Moriawase, a perfect selection of two of each of the different gyoza – chicken, pork, shrimp, salmon and vegetable. Whilst delicious, the different types were completely indistinguishable.

We also tried the salmon Gyoza steamed, as I was recommended these by a friend. Again these were lovely, but they were submerged in an odd yoghurt sauce which overpowered the dumpling all together and made everything a bit soggy. For £7.80 for 5 dumplings, you would want them to be perfect.

We were full at this point and ready to admit defeat. But the waitress batted her eyelashes and we had a Char Sui Ramen (£11) on our table. We slurped away, only put off by the slightly stale pork fat taste of the broth.

There are hits and there are misses. There’s a nice selection of drinks (I had a glass of white wine and some sake to finish), and a great choice of food for a restaurant named Gyoza Bar. I wouldn’t bother with the ramen if I went again but then I rarely do. Try the gyoza and lots of it, and listen to the lovely waitress who tells you you can eat more.


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