In Japan, Utsunomiya in Tochigi is particularly famous for gyoza dumplings, but gyoza is also a specialty gourmet item in Hakata in Fukuoka. Hakata is known to be a gyoza battleground, where the gyoza tends to be bite-size gyozas that are slightly smaller than the norm. Here are five recommended gyoza restaurants in Hakata.
1. Tetsunabe Deaibashi Branch
This restaurant, where the specialty is the grilled Yaki-gyoza (8 per serving, 470 JPY (incl. tax)), has preserved the same flavors since its establishment. The gyoza are small, bite-sized dumplings, but are packed with filling and so tasty you won't be able to stop eating. They are grilled in cast iron pans so you can enjoy them piping hot. The Sui-gyoza (7 per serving, 572 JPY (incl. tax)), which is gyoza in soup, is also popular. Enjoy other Kyushu specialties, such as gomasaba blue mackerel (972 JPY (incl. tax)), and basashi horsemeat sashimi (1,674 JPY (incl. tax)), as well.
This is a restaurant popular for its small Hakata Gyoza (7 per serving, 380 JPY (excl. tax)) that is eaten in a stylish hideaway-like restaurant. The sizzling sound of the gyoza that is served in a specially-made cast iron pan and the crunchy hane (the thin film on the gyoza) whets the appetite. The dumplings are small, but the wrapper is firm and chewy with a crunchy surface and crispy hane. Apparently, the secret is a three-layered structure with all-purpose flour coated in hard flour. These are unique gyoza made with great care in choosing the meats, vegetables, seasoning, and even the thickness of the frying pans.
3. Hakata Gion Tetsunabe
This was the first restaurant to serve "tetsunabe gyoza," gyoza dumplings served in tetsunabe cast iron pans that have become synonymous with Hakata gyoza. The filling of the Jiman-no Gyoza (8 per serving, 500 JPY) is made only with ingredients procured that day and the wrappers are, of course, made in house. These are grilled in a circular cast iron pan and served to the table steaming hot. The wrapper is a bit thick and is chewy with a crunchy surface and the filling is perfectly juicy so it's hard to stop eating. Their homemade yuzu kosho (an aged seasoning made by mixing chili pepper, yuzu citrus, and salt) is superb. Sprinkle it in the sauce and enjoy it with the gyoza.
4. Asahiken Ekimae Main Restaurant
This is an extremely popular restaurant that makes 5,000 gyoza dumplings of the Yaki-gyoza (10 per serving, 350 JPY) a day on the weekend. The filling of the small gyoza has a staggering 14 ingredients mixed in, with just a bit of garlic, so it is popular with female customers. The crunchy gyoza are light and so easy to eat that one serving will disappear in a flash. Their chicken wings, which are 90 JPY a piece, are as popular as the gyoza. Nibbling on the chicken wings is a nice way to wait for the gyoza to be served.
5. Temujin Hakata Station City Dining Kooten
This restaurant is popular for its Yaki-gyoza (10 per serving, 480 JPY (incl. tax)), that is grilled with just a little oil and is light and healthy. Unlike many restaurants that go for the crunchy texture, the gyoza dumplings here are distinguished by their soft wrappers. Their thumb-size gyoza dumplings are a size that can be eaten in one bite so that the umami flavors, aroma, and juices remain intact. The filling is heavy on the vegetables, with a 7:3 vegetable-to-meat ratio. Although most gyoza is made with ground pork, the gyoza here is made with ground beef. The ground beef brings out the sweetness of the vegetables in the light, vegetable-heavy gyoza, and goes so well with lightly vinegared soy sauce that is is hard to stop eating.
The bite-size gyoza dumplings in Hakata are eaten not only as meals, but also as snacks, and are perfect with beer! Try the combination of juicy, freshly grilled gyoza and ice cold beer.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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