Translated by Briony Dunbar
Gyoza - How To Make, How To Eat, And Recommended Restaurants
Written by MATCHA
Gyoza often appears on menus in ramen restaurants in Japan. These Japanese potstickers are excellent with beer, but how do you eat them? If you're feeling stuck, here's an explanation, plus some tips on how to make this delicious dish at home.
A Guide to Gyoza: Japan's Delicious Take on Dumplings
Gyoza, or potstickers or dumplings, are a dish originating in China that is highly popular in Japan. Found at most izakaya (tavern-like drinking hubs), Chinese restaurants, ramen stands, convenience stores, and even food stalls, gyoza are a comfort-food best served hot and fresh for that juicy, flavorful bite everyone craves.
In this article, we introduce the different types of gyoza, how to make them, how to eat them, and restaurants where you can enjoy them.
What Are Gyoza? The Different Types
Gyoza, or dumplings, may originate from China, but much like Ramen, they are now an undeniable, and well-loved, part of Japanese food culture.
While ingredients may vary slightly by preference, classic gyoza are made by wrapping finely chopped vegetables (Chinese cabbage, cabbage, garlic chive, garlic, etc) and ground pork in a thinly stretched wrapper made of flour and water. These bundles are then cooked via various methods, including boiling, grilling, steaming, and frying. Depending on the cooking method, we can identify several types of gyoza:
Yude gyoza (boiled dumplings) or sui gyoza (soup dumplings), which are typically served in broth, perhaps as part of a soup, and often found at Chinese restaurants.
Yaki gyoza (grilled dumplings), which are pan-fried and thus have a crispy bottom, which is often served facing-up. Juicy with a bit of an outer crunch, these are the most popular type of gyoza in Japan and are usually eaten with soy sauce and vinegar dipping sauces.
Mushi gyoza (steamed dumplings) are softer and chewier and are often served straight from the bamboo steamer they are cooked in. Sizes and shapes for this type of gyoza, in particular, may vary.
Age gyoza (fried dumplings) are the deep-fried crunchy wonders found at specialty restaurants. Crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside, these gyoza are delicious but not as common.
Photo by Pixta
Gyoza are considered a variation of the Chinese "jiaozi" dumpling, which you can distinguish by the heavier use of garlic. When it comes to "potstickers", a popular name for a type of Chinese dumpling, many might have trouble telling the two apart. The store-bought and generic version are said to be the same.
Easy To Make at Home! How To Make Gyoza
Photo by Pixta
Most supermarkets sell various kinds of gyoza wrappers, and every family has their own take on what to put in them, how to wrap them, and how best to cook them. For many Japanese, gyoza represents the taste of home-cooked meals, while many younger people like to whip up gyoza to go with curry rice, ramen, or fried chicken.
Would you like to try making gyoza at home? It's easy, fun, and you can definitely get creative with this popular Japanese dish. Let us walk you through a basic yaki gyoza recipe.
Basic Gyoza Ingredients
2 cups chopped cabbage
1/4 cup chopped Asian chives or scallions
1/4 cup chopped carrot (optional)
1 (10 ounce) package wonton wrappers (any store brand will work)
1/2 pound ground pork (or any ground meat)
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1~2 clove garlic, chopped
3 cm ginger peeled, grated/finely chopped
chili oil (optional)
As you can see, one of the keys to good gyoza lies in its seasonings.
For cooking gyoza, you'll need a bit of space to use as your work station. We recommend gathering with family or friends at a table for an enjoyable creation process.ss
Wash and cut your vegetables to an appropriate size. Room temperature cabbage is softer, so allow the cabbage to sit out for a while or run it under warm water. Also, when it comes to cutting, remember that this will be placed inside small wanton wrappers, so keep pieces nice and small so you don't wind up with a gyoza is one big piece of cabbage! Chop up your garlic and ginger as well.
There is a bit of a split on whether to cook the ground meat at this stage, before creating the inner mix. If you prefer to cook the meat first, coat a large skillet with the sesame oil, mix the meat with the garlic and ginger, and cook the meat on medium, high heat until an even brown. Or, you can skip this step do all the cooking together once in the wrappers.
Put together your inner mix by combining the cabbage, scallions, garlic, ginger, and carrot, and ground pork. Mix these with the soy sauce and sesame oil, and let sit for a few minutes to marinate.
Make the Gyoza
Prepare some empty plates or platters along with a cup of warm water for this stage.
Get out the wrappers and place approximately 1 tablespoon of the cabbage and pork mixture in the center of each wrapper. Wet your fingers in the cup, dab the edges of the wrapper, and then fold the wrapper in half overfilling. The wet edge should act as a glue. Seal the edges with moistened fingers, pinching in your own wavy look. Line the uncooked gyoza on the platters to be cooked.
In preheated vegetable oil (about 1 tablespoon should be enough), line the gyoza up in a skillet to cook for about 1-2 minutes over medium-high heat. Once the edges are brown, add about a 1/2 cup of water, cover with a lid, and allow the gyoza to cook through half-submerged. This takes about 4 or 5 minutes depending. If the water evaporates, add more. Move the cooked gyoza back to the platters to cool slightly, and repeat this cooking process until all gyoza are done.
Serve these warm, bite-sized delectables with a side of soy sauce and rice vinegar sauce for ultimate enjoyment!
How To Eat Gyoza
No matter if they're homemade or ordered, no matter if you're eating them as a main dish or alongside ramen as a side dish, gyoza are delicious. So let's talk about how to enjoy yaki gyoza!
Photo by Pixta
Gyoza at restaurants are often served on a large plate as per-person servings like ichininmae (1 person) and nininmae (2 people). Since the size of each dumpling and total portion depend on the store, it may help to ask what the standard might be when ordering. Also, keep in mind that prices can vary anywhere from 180 to 700 yen, so be sure to check the menu.
Photo by Pixta
A small dish will come with your large plate of gyoza. This dish is for mixing your sauce. Gyoza is not often heavily seasoned, so this dipping sauce is your way to flavor your gyoza to preference.
On your table, or nearby your counter seat, you will find bottles of vinegar, soy sauce, and raayu (chili oil) (*1). Pour these into the dish provided before you begin eating. The standard ratio for the dipping sauce should be 1:1 of vinegar and soy sauce, but you can adjust to your tastes and even add a few drops of red-colored raayu for some heat.
Photo by Pixta
Now, it's time to dip your freshly grilled gyoza. Take ahold of one morsel up with your chopsticks, and lower it into the sauce. Remember, part of what makes yaki gyoza so delicious is the slightly charred bits, so to not lose out on the wonderful crispy sensation, try to dip only the soft side.
Also, we recommend that you do not cut or separate a single gyoza with your chopsticks before eating. The delicious juices will spill out onto your plate, dampening the experience. Try to eat it in one bite, if you can, or two without lowering it. If it is too hot, let it cool for a minute or two before biting so as not to scorch your tongue!
(*1) Raayu (hili oil) - condiment made by heating spices such as hot chili peppers in vegetable oil.
Gyoza, which are packed with lots of garlic and chives and fried to perfection, have long been considered a satisfying food to enjoy over drinks. They can be happily paired with beer, highballs, or sours. Depending on the person, you may even see some opt for wine!
With such a "late night" reputation, gyoza can be quite the guilty pleasure. Recently, however, restaurants have popped up that serve a "healthier" version of gyoza using lots of vegetables as well as garlic that doesn’t smell after eating. Small, easy-to-eat, and reasonably priced, gyoza are now being enjoyed more and more without any guilt involved.
The Two “Gyoza Towns”
Utsunomiya in Tochigi Prefecture and Hamamatsu in Shizuoka Prefecture are known as the “Gyoza Towns”. Many households in both cities are gyoza lovers, with the average household spending over 4,000 yen annually on gyoza. Several hundred gyoza restaurants compete with each other in these prefectures.
In addition to yaki gyoza, there are a variety of other gyoza, including sui gyoza with a plump wrapper made by boiling them, age gyoza (fried dumplings) with a crispy wrapper made by frying, and so on. If you happen to be near these towns, do try and taste the different delicious gyoza!
5 Recommended Gyoza Restaurants in Tokyo
1. Gyouzabou chohakkai
This gyoza specialty restaurant is on the fancier side, so a reservation is recommended.
Address: 3-37-5 Asagayaminami Suginami Tokyo
Hours: 18:00 - 24:00
Closed Days: Mondays (possibly Sundays)
2. Gyouza no mise Ranshuu
A shop so delicious and affordable, you'd be lucky to get in without waiting. Each gyoza is made by hand when you order, so its bound to be hot and fresh, and only at 400 yen to 600 yen depending.
While yaki gyoza is a specialty for most restaurants, this shop also offers a sui gyoza dish so delicious it needs no sauce, but you can order a cilantro topping for an extra kick. That does not mean the yaki gyoza here are anything to laugh at. They have one with garlic chive egg filling that will have your mouth watering.
Address: 4-25-1 Tateishi Katsushika Tokyo
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 18:00-1:00; Sundays and National Holidays 18:00-23:30
Closed Days: Mondays
Order the black, white, red, and blue set! This shop offers gyoza varieties from 100 percent meat fillings to strong chive and garlic mixes that will not disappoint. Set lunches run from 700 to 900 yen, and come with soup and sides.
Address: 8-32 Shinogawamachi Shinjuku Tokyo
Hours: Monday-Saturday, 11:30-14:30 and 17:00-23:00; Sundays and National Holidays, 12:00-14:30 and 17:00-21:00
Closed: Unscheduled closing occur, please call ahead
The shop masters here leave nothing to chance with their gyoza. They really lock in the flavor with their frying methods, presenting a row of gyoza beautifully browned and prepped for that first bite. With wonderfully balanced meat and vegetable inner mix, this shop's affordable yaki gyoza is sure to please.
Address: 2-12-16 Fujimi Chiyoda Tokyo
Hours: 11:30-13:50; 17:00-20:50
Closed: Sundays, National Holidays, 3rd Monday of the Month
This shop may only be open 2 hours in the evening, but with most meals under 1,000, it is definitely an experience worth having. A home-style feel, the yaki gyoza here are served up a bit larger, with a properly crisp outer edge. The garlic and chives flavor will leave quite the impression, so why not stop by for a bite?
Address: 2-50-13 Higashiikebukuro Toshima Tokyo
Hours: 17:00-19:00 (Take-Out)
Closed: Wednesdays, Saturdays, Sundays, National Holidays
Enjoy the Delicious Japanese Gyoza!
We hoped we piqued your interest in tasting and cooking gyoza, a delicious dish loved by everyone in Japan!