Harajuku Gyoza situated along Brunswick street in Fortitude Valley, is probably the most hyped and talked about dumpling bar which has opened recently. Why is it these places open all at once? Last year it was Mexican fastfood places, and this time around its dumplings. Never mind, I’ve jumped onto the latest bandwagon, definitely more willingly than the last bandwagon.
Having heard horrendous stories about people waiting in queues long enough that they’ve had children and grandchildren and are basically a completely different group of people by the time they’ve gotten a table, we decided to visit at a more slowpaced hour of 1pm on a Monday. Thankfully we got a table straight away.
Harajuku is so cutesy inside, the light fittings are gorgeous and the walls are adorned with colourful melamine plates. The main area is a large bar with seating around it, with small tables alongside the streetside wall, and two larger group tables in the centre.
There is a short wine list, plus some sake, however Japanese beers are what you should partake in if you eat here. Kirin is on tap (which is what we ordered) plus Yebisu, Asahi and Sapporo in bottled form, with a couple of Aussie beers (Boags and Hahn) thrown in for those that aren’t cultured enough.
Foodwise, of course the gyoza are the main attraction, with pork, chicken, prawn, duck and vegetable varieties available either poached or grilled. There are a few izakaya style small dishes available such as chicken karaage, agadashi tofu and pork katsudon.
We figured we’d go mostly with gyoza, however did order some agadashi tofu ($7). Unfortunately for this price, two small pieces of tofu is all you get, with a tiny amount of broth. It was nicely lightly battered, however a more generous amount would be appreciated.
Poached vegetable gyoza ($8 for 5 pieces), were decidedly doughy in flavour. If we had ordered them grilled we are sure they would have been tastier.
Pork gyoza ($8 for 5 pieces) were … porky. Normally they have a few bits of vegetables in them to break it up, however meat is all that there was. They were very delicious however a bit greasy from being grilled.
This is where the fun ended and we had to wait 40 minutes for our chicken gyoza. They were hardly busy so I am not quite sure what the holdup was, but it was immensely painful to try and flag someone down for assistance and when they did finally arrive, there was little apology. The only good thing was the grilled chicken gyoza ($8 for 5 pieces) was probably the best of the lot tastewise.
We finished with dessert, apple gyoza with vanilla icecream ($9). They were deliciously warm and tasting mostly like apple pie, although more like the ones you can get at McDonalds. Okay that doesn’t really do them justice, they were better than those!
Harajuku gyoza is definitely a good place for a relaxed drinking and snacking session, but not if you are in a hurry for lunch or dinner. For a place that supposedly has very welcoming and friendly staff, we experienced quite the opposite, being largely ignored. I don’t know where the fun smiley faces had gone the day we visited!