|Photo from Harajuku Gyoza website|
Harajuku Gyoza has been open since the start of the year. Last week was my first opportunity to try out one of Brisbane"s latest contenders on the dumpling scene.
I dont know why it has taken me so long to finally eat at HG, when it was first under construction I would look over at the cute little gyoza illuminated at the front with great expectations of what would be inside.
Around 8.30 last week with boyfriend, sister and sister's boyfriend in tow I finally made it there for a late meal.
So, what's it like? Well, to be honest, its good. I mean not fantastic, crazy, amazing just - good. HG does what it promises, dumplings and beer. And they do an okay job of it, cold Japanese beer (possibly brewed in Australia) and some decent dumplings at a decent price.
Perhaps I am being unfair on their dumplings, it just to me, they lacked impact. My last encounter with dumplings was in Manhattan's China Town at a fantastic hole in the wall called Prosperity Dumplings so perhaps my dumpling expectations arriving at HG was a little too high.
As far as design and marketing goes, HG as done a pretty good job of providing Brisbane with something which is new, but somehow stereotypical enough that it seems familiar. There are cute signs up such as "door heavy like sumo" (which I always read in the most appalling Iron Chef style accent in my head), the melamine plates have interesting "Harajuku style" photos printed on them and the music changes from your average K-pop to what I can only describe as Japanese death metal sporadically. The whole thing has been put together pretty well, I was not blown away by the experience, but I understood what they where trying for. Also the staff, while clearly not professional wait staff, are cheerful, enthusiastic and try pretty hard to get things right. I am not sure how well I would cope if I had to dance every time someone ordered sake and I don't know if they appreciated our orgami with the paper menues which we left as a goodbye present.
What we ate:
- Agadashi tofu
- Chicken Karage
- Pork gyoza - both steamed and grilled
- Chicken gyoza - grilled
- Prawn gyoza - grilled
- Duck gyoza - grilled
- Banana and Nutella gyoza
Personally, the two stand outs were the duck gyoza and the tofu, however the boys also liked the pork. All the gyoza are pretty plain and lack any kind of discernible kick or flavour element; the chicken was very nondescript. The duck at least tasted like duck, it had a little bit more depth than the pork, however none were knock your socks off brilliant. With the prawn gyoza I was expecting minced prawn meat with maybe some ginger or at least a little soy and spring onion. In reality, the gyoza was a average prawn in a gyoza wrapper, grilled. For the most expensive dumpling on the menu, it was a bit of a let down.
The tofu, tasted like a pretty decent agadashi tofu, again not mind blowing, but I happen to be a fan of this fried tofu in soup style dish so I enjoyed it. The karage was okay, certainly not the worst version of this dish I have ever had. It was what you would expect, some fired bits of chicken with calorific Japanese mayo. My sister's boyfriend is a fan, and enjoy it.
The boyfriend ordered the banana and nutella gyoza as a dessert. It was basic, almost "drunk after a party cooking" style food. Mashed banana and nutella inside a fried gyoza with some commercial grade vanilla icecream. I have never been a fan of hot banana, but everyone else seemed to enjoy it. Although I guess most people like the hot cold combo of something hot, fried and chocolaty with vanilla icecream, so it is pretty hard to go wrong.
Oh and we also drank kirin, which tasted like kirin.
All in all, it was an enjoyable dinner. Maybe it was the lovely company I was with, or perhaps because we arrived their starving. I wouldn't like you to believe that the food is bad - its just not amazing, and not worth the blogger hype. Would I eat their again? If I was hungry, in the mood for dumplings and in the valley, then yes. That being said I would probably just walk a few more block and go to the Brunswick Social for pork buns.
|Banana and Nutella Gyoza (photo from HG's website)|