I still remember the buzz when Harajuku Gyoza first opened up in Fortitude Valley even though it must be many years ago now. Everything about it sounded appealing to me, from its limited menu of dumplings and beer (with such a perfect combination, what else do you need?), the quirky cartoon dumpling and the late night dining hours. The Valley is a tricky location for me though. It's just that bit too far for me to walk to and it's impossible to park there. When I was a spring chicken, I might have popped in after a late night but 'late' for me is now 8pm so that's hardly going to work. In the end, I just never got to go...
... until Harajuku Gyoza opened in Indooroopilly that is! I was recently sent a couple of vouchers to try the dumplings at the new store location and of course, I was very happy to do so. It took us a while to get there; one night the wait was quoted at 30min so we ended up going to Laksa Hut instead.
For our second attempt, I strategically chose a Monday night because I figured this would be the least popular time for people to dine out. It ended up being a fair estimate because we got straight in. Even so, not long after we were seated we heard other couples being told that only bar seating was remaining.
Harajuku Gyoza has a very distinct fit out and with the aforementioned popularity, the place just BUZZES. I can see how it's the kind of venue people would feel like just popping in for a late night drink, snack chat. I noted that the decor had a lot happening. Patterns and plates and text that could be potentially clashing managed to work well via neat and thoughtful placement. It definitely invokes that feeling of a little Japanese izakaya.
There's no farting around waiting for menus here. They are printed as placemats so we were able to scan through and rap out our orders within 5 minutes of sitting down. Marc and I decided on 3 types of gyoza to taste, all fried (steamed gyoza just doesn't interest me), plus some sides and a couple of beers to wash it all down.
Kirin on tap
Our food arrived at various intervals, which was perfect because I don't think bar food should be placed down all at once. You want to bite and taste as you go and need time to sip your drink too.
Pork fried gyoza
Of the gyoza themselves, the pork was definitely my favourite. Chinese guo tie (potsticker dumplings) are traditionally made from a gingery pork filling, so this was most familiar to me. The chicken gyoza was the second that we tried and by contrast, I thought it was ok but just not 'right'. Marc didn't share this feeling and he ended up eating all the chicken ones. I liked that the duck had a distincly duck flavour and I thought these were also tasty.
Bite shot of gyoza
On their own, the dumplings are quite greasy but this was perfect to go with our refreshing Kirin. When we ordered our food, I was worried it wouldn't be enough but even after just a couple of dumplings I started feeling full. Gotta love calorie rich portions that are perfect for soaking up alcohol as we eat. On the down side, I missed the pop of soup that's critical inside Chinese dumplings. If these also had some soup in the middle they would be even better.
We also ordered a plate of karaage chicken. It was a smallish plate but with my line of reasoning above, it was actually just the right amount for us. (Edited to add: Marc thinks this is incorrect and that there should have been more karaage because he always wants more karaage). It came with the necessary slice of fresh lemon and dollop of Kewpie. I can't remember where Marc and I were recently that served karaage without mayonnaise on the side and to me, it was a total waste of fried chicken. Also, this dish reminded me how much Kewpie is superior to regular whole egg mayonnaise. This wasn't the most amazing karaage chicken I've ever tasted but it wasn't bad.
What I really loved was the eggplant tempura. I've got to admit I have a soft spot for eggplant and we all know that everything tastes better deep fried. This was perfect for me with its well-cooked, soft eggplant interior, light crunchy crust and sweet and salty sauce. It's simple but effective. I like to think that because it's a vegetable, this is a healthy dish, but let's not kid ourselves.
Marc and I had a great time at Harajuku Gyoza. The pork gyoza was my favourite and I loved the eggplant tempura. It was so much fun having our large tankards of beer and bite-sized pieces of delicious food. I liked the dining atmosphere and the staff were friendly and efficient.