Gyoza or similar dishes are eaten in various countries such as China, South Korea, Mongolia, Nepal, and Russia, but ingredients, cooking methods, and what they are called are different. Gyoza becomes the original food of each country, depending on the cultures and natural features of the country.
In Japan, there are many ramen shops that have gyoza as a side dish. Some shops serve combos such as gyoza and rice, or gyoza and fried rice. In Japan, gyoza can be a main dish, side dish, or a snack that goes great with alcohol. Recently, Japanese-style, American-style, and Spanish-style bars that serve gyoza are starting business one after another. Let us introduce you to Japanese gyoza, which is actually quite profound.
What is gyoza? What is its history?
Gyoza is made by kneading together minced meat and finely chopped vegetables, and wrapping the filling with a thin skin make from flour. Japan’s gyoza is said to have originally come from China, and a document as old as 300 years old mentions gyoza, but it came to be eaten by the general public not too long ago. It is not known who started serving Japanese-style pan-fried gyoza, and where it was first served. But it has been an accepted opinion that a Japanese who had lived in China came back to Japan, but longing for the taste of China, reproduced the dish. Thus, around 1950, many gyoza specialty restaurants and Chinese restaurants started business, serving pan-fried gyoza with the crispy skin, loved by Japanese, and it became highly popular as it made people full at a reasonable price.
What kinds of gyoza are there?
In Japan, pan-fried gyoza is mainstream, but there are many others, such as boiled gyoza, deep-fried gyoza, and soup gyoza. There are various types of pan-fried gyoza itself, and the way they are grilled and shaped are different, such as Hanetsuki gyoza (gyoza with wings) which is made by frying them in a mixture of water and cornstarch, and wrapping the filling in a stick-like shape, and grilling them on both sides. Further, gyoza using local specialty ingredients and reflecting local culture are popular. There are areas where gyoza is the local specialty all over Japan including Utsunomiya City of Tochigi Prefecture and Hamamatsu City of Shizuoka Prefecture. You may enjoy various local gyoza as you travel Japan.
◾Utsunomiya gyoza (Utsunomiya City, Tochigi Prefecture)
It is approximately a 50-minute ride by Tohoku Shinkansen from JR Tokyo Station to Utsunomiya Station. Utsunomiya is the largest Kita Kanto city that still has castle ruins and historical buildings left, and is accessible to popular sightseeing spots such as Nikko
and Nasu. It is only about 30 minutes away from the station by bus to Oya History Museum, where you can see the illusionistic Oya Stone Mine, which looks like an ancient Egyptian monument. Utsunomiya is one of Japan’s best known gyoza district. Every year, Utsunomiya is competing to be the number one city to consume the most gyoza, and it is said that the average local person eats gyoza several times a week. There are about 200 shops that serve gyoza within the city, and there are about 80 gyoza specialty shops and the like that are members of the Utsunomiya Gyoza Kai (kai=association). The distinguishing feature of Utsunomiya gyoza is the variation. The size, ingredient, thickness and maturation of the wrapper, the way they are wrapped, the various dipping sauces, etc. are different depending on the shop, allowing you to enjoy a wide variety of gyoza.
Further, not only pan-fried types, but there are others such as deep-fried and boiled. A lot of the restaurants serve gyoza with a lot of vegetables such as Chinese cabbage, making them plain and light, and people say they can eat a whole lot of them. A plate of gyoza is reasonably priced, so going on an eating tour of different shops is recommended.
Utsunomiya Gyoza Kai
You can compare different tastes of popular Utsunomiya gyoza shops - “Kirasse Main Shop”
At “Kirasse Main Shop,” managed by Utsunomiya Gyoza Kai, you can taste various different popular gyoza at once. Their eating space is divided into two—an area where popular five permanent gyoza specialty shops gather, and an area where 33 shops that belong to the Utsunomiya Gyoza Kai change daily, allowing you to taste different gyoza every day. You can eat and compare a wide variety of gyoza. In the area of every day changing shops, you can have different kinds of gyoza from different shops on one plate, so as to find your preferred taste efficiently. There is a souvenir area where you can buy frozen fresh gyoza, and also an area where you can have a hands-on experience of making gyoza yourself (booking needed).
The permanent shop area, where five popular Utsunomiya gyoza shops gather, is like a food court. Each shop has about 6 gyoza on a plate, and are priced at around 250 to 500 yen per plate. All shops have specially made chili oil for seasoning your gyoza. You can also order the gyoza to go.
In the area where shops change daily, shops are different depending on the day of the week, allowing you to enjoy 27 types of gyoza every day. They also have “Kirasse” original dishes, so if you want to try various gyoza, this area is where to go.
“Kirasse Main Shop”
●MEGA Don Quijote LAPARK Utsunomiya B1 FL., 2-3-12, Baba-dori, Utsunomiya-shi, Tochigi
●Weekdays: 11:00-20:30 (L.O. 20:00), Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays:11:00-21:00 (L.O. 20:30)
●Open all year *only permanent shops each have a fixed holiday
●From the Utsunomiya Station Nishi-guchi #38 of JR Utsunomiya Station, get on the Central City Circulation Bus “Kibuna” and get off at Futarasan Jinja Shita bus stop. It is right nearby.
◾Hamamatsu gyoza (Hamamatsu City, Shizuoka Prefecture)
Hamamatsu City that is located almost right in between Tokyo and Osaka, is an easy access of about 90 minutes from both Tokyo Station and Shin-Osaka Station using the JR Tokaido Shinkansen
. Hamamatsu City is a gourmet area which is surrounded beautiful nature of sea, land, and mountains such as Tenryu-gawa River in the east, Hamana-ko Lake in the west, Sea of Enshu in the south, and Southern Alps’ Akaishi Mountains in the north. Hamamatsu City produces various quality food, and among them, along with eels, the “Hamamatsu gyoza” is a representative local specialty. Every year, Hamamatsu City is competing with Utsunomiya City for the title of number one city of gyoza consumption, and Hamamatsu locals are known for their strong love of gyoza. In the areas surrounding Hamamatsu, cultivating cabbage and onions, and pig farming have been thriving for a long time. They use a lot of cabbage in their gyoza, so the taste is quite light, but the pork adds flavor, making them quite juicy. But even if your mouth gets greasy, the large pile of bean sprouts should help you clear that up. Another characteristic of the Hamamatsu gyoza is that each shop has their own sauce that matches their gyoza. They are maintaining their gyoza popularity by having strong preferences about what they make. There are more than 300 shops that serve gyoza in the city, and among them are 187 shops that are members of the Hamamatsu Gyoza Society. Many popular shops are scattered everywhere, such as near the train stations which is without saying, but other places like back alleys, residential districts, and the suburbs.
Hamamatsu Gyoza Society
◾Enban gyoza (Fukushima City, Fukushima Prefecture)
Fukushima City is approximately 90 minutes away by JR Tohoku Shinkansen
from Tokyo Station. Fukushima is surrounded by beautiful mountains such as the rich nature of the Azuma Mountain Range, and you can enjoy picturesque sceneries of each season in Fukushima, like the lovely flowers of spring, greenery of summer, coloring leaves of autumn, and snow in winter. Popular hot springs are dotted in the suburbs, such as Iizaka Onsen Hot Spring Resort, Tsuchiyu Onsen Hot Springs, and Takayu Hot Spring Resort. Further, Fukushima that is called the farm kingdom, is also a gourmet empire. Among the many local gourmets, “Enban gyoza (enban=disk)” is loved by the locals. A lot of vegetables are used and pan-fried without using too much oil, so they are quite healthy. The gyoza is lined in a circle in a pan, fried, and turned upside down on a plate. It looks dynamic, but they are plain, light and tasty, so you’d probably be able to quickly eat 20 to 30 of them. Further, it is standard to eat Fukushima Enban gyoza along with beer or sake. Office workers stopping by a restaurant on his way home from work and having gyoza as a snack while drinking alcohol is a tradition from old times, and still is seen today. Among the 13 gyoza shops that have joined the Fukushima gyoza no kai (gyoza association) more than half of them open business in the evening. Fukushima is a prefecture where they have many sake brands that received gold prizes in sake competitions, so having gyoza as a snack while drinking sake is highly recommended.
Fukushima gyoza no kai (gyoza association)
◾Tsu gyoza (Tsu City, Mie Prefecture)
Tsu Station is about 50 minutes away from JR Nagoya Station if you use the “Kaisoku (rapid) train Mie.” Tsu City of Mie Prefecture is located between Iga City, the home of the Ninja, and Matsusaka City, home of the Matsusaka Beef. If you ride the Kintetsu Limited Express, Tsu City is also located 30 minutes away from Ise-shi Station of Ise City, where they have Ise-jingu Shrine. Tsu is surrounded by nationally-known tourist attractions, but surprisingly, not many Japanese know that Ten musu, Miso katsu, and Ichigo daifuku originated in Tsu. Recently, the popularity of “Tsu gyoza,” a local dish, is increasing. Originally, it was a dish developed by the nutritionists of the local board of education in 1985 as part of the school lunch. It was popular among the children, and in October, 2008, the Tsu gyoza was sold to the general public at a local festival, and became very popular. Then, the local government asked eating places in the city to serve Tsu gyoza, and today, they are sold in 29 shops. Tsu gyoza is distinctive for its surprisingly large size. They are wrapped in a skin that is 15 centimeters in diameter and deep fried. The filling differs from shop to shop, but basically, it is made from minced pork, onion, Chinese chive, seasoning kneaded together, and it is very juicy. Like the Ten musu and Ichigo daifuku, the Tsu gyoza is expected to break out in the future.
◾Kawasaki gyoza (Kawasaki City, Kanagawa Prefecture)
When you talk about Chinese food, Yokohama
’s China Town may first come to mind, but the city that people paid most in Japan (*) for eating out Chinese food is Kawasaki City, though it is also located in Kanagawa Prefecture. Kawasaki City has many long-established gyoza shops, and all are known to serve very tasty gyoza. Kawasaki used to be a gyoza city not many people knew about, but since about 10 years ago, it is slowly gaining popularity as the city of gyoza. In September 2017, Japan’s largest local gyoza event was held, and many gyoza from all over the country gathered, and this is when the “Kawasaki gyoza” became well-known nationally. It is said that Kawasaki started out as the city of gyoza when a popular gyoza shop (it was a Japanese restaurant at the time) established in Koibumi Yokocho of Shibuya
, Tokyo moved to Kawasaki in 1953. Then, the number of restaurants serving gyoza in Kawasaki increased, and competed with each other to make better tasting gyoza. It is said that that is how the city became a place with many shops that sell great tasting gyoza. This is why there is no specific characteristic of the Kawasaki gyoza. Each shop has their original good taste. “Kawasaki Gyoza Store Meeting,” an association of Kawasaki gyoza shops was established as part of an effort to revitalize the city. Many popular gyoza shops gathered and jointly developed a “miso sauce” for Kawasaki gyoza. Today, 21 shops affiliated with the association.
* MIC Statistics Bureau’s “Family Income and Expenditure Survey” (household of 2 people or more, amount spent yearly per household) product specific database (average between 2006 and 2008)
Kawasaki Gyoza Store Meeting
What is the calorie of gyoza?
They are delicious, but you may be worried about your calorie intake after eating several tens of them. Calories differ depending on the fillings and sizes, but one average-sized pan-fried gyoza is approximately 47 calories. The breakdown is as follows: gyoza skin 17 calories, minced pork (5g) 11 calories, cabbage (7g) 2 calories, green onion 1 calorie, ginger 1 calorie, garlic 2 calories. Light and plain gyoza with more vegetables will be lower in calories.
What is inside the gyoza? How to enjoy eating them
The common Japanese gyoza uses minced pork, cabbage, Chinese chive, garlic, and ginger. Sometimes, Chinese cabbage is used instead of cabbage, green onion may be added, and Chinese chive and garlic may be excluded. There are many other ingredients that go well with gyoza, such as shrimp, shitake mushroom, cheese, perilla, and kimchi. You will never tire of eating gyoza because when the ingredients change, the taste changes. How about eating various gyoza and find your favorite?
The standard way to make gyoza
Add seasoning (salt, sugar, soy sauce, pepper, sesame oil, sake, dogtooth violet starch, etc.) to minced meat and finely chopped vegetables, then knead them all together. Wrap this filling with gyoza skin. If you want to make pan-fried gyoza, put the gyoza on a hot plate or in a pan and grill it for a little while, then pour hot water in and put a lid on the plate or pan and steam the gyoza. A few minutes later, take the lid off and let the hot water inside evaporate, and grill. It is said that this cooking style is unique to Japan. If there is more meat in the filling, the gyoza will be juicier. More garlic flavor will make the gyoza a stamina food. On the other hand, more vegetables will make the gyoza a healthier food. You can’t stop eating because of the light taste of sweet and flavorful vegetables packed into the gyoza. A wide variety of gyoza can be made by changing the combination of the finely chopped ingredients, seasoning, thickness of the gyoza skin, and so on.
Great sauce for gyoza! Not only soy sauce, vinegar, and chili oil?
Generally, as a sauce for gyoza, you combine soy sauce, vinegar, and chili oil in your favorite way. If you mix vinegar and pepper, you can have a light tasting sauce. At home, some use Grated radish with ponzu (bitter orange juice), mayonnaise, sesame dressing, yogurt plus soy sauce are tasty, according to some word of mouth. The taste of gyoza change depending on the sauce. There is a city that developed their original gyoza sauce. The appeal of gyoza will increase because of the sauce.
Here are places to eat gyoza in Japan! JOURNEY of Japan highly recommends these famous restaurants
Following the Japanese food culture, the filling, gyoza skin, and seasoning have evolved, and Japan’s gyoza is now gaining recognition in the world as “GYOZA.” Recently, a gyoza restaurant category has been added to Michelin Guide Tokyo, and gyoza has become one of the Japanese food dishes attracting attention from the world. Here are two popular up‐and‐coming gyoza restaurants highly recommended by JOURNEY of JAPAN.
◾ Has been highly rated by the Michelin Guide - “Ikejiri Gyoza.”
The owner of this restaurant loved the gyoza made by Madame Rose, a well-known gastronome, and wanted more people eat her gyoza. The owner persuaded her, and started the restaurant business. The restaurant originally opened in Shinjuku, but since it was for a limited time, it closed much to the regret of many. Later, they opened the restaurant in Bali, and also became a popular restaurant. And now, they have restarted their business in Ikejiri Ohashi, which is “Ikejiri Gyoza.”
The gyoza are hand-made by Madam Rose, in a workshop, who spends time and effort with ingredients she had selected herself, and the restaurant manager grills them at the restaurant. Madam Rose’s gyoza are her specialties, initially made for her family to become healthy, so we have heard that she does not make them when Madam Rose herself does not feel well. The restaurant’s specialty is made from plenty of pork, and Chinese chive is the only vegetable used. Unlike the general filling of Japanese gyoza and how they are wrapped, Ikejiri Gyoza are deep fried and grilled so they are crispy on the outside, and the filling is kneaded with jellied broth of beef, pork, etc., so it becomes thick and liquid-like when cooked. A dish we recommend is the five-assorted plate of specialty gyoza, perilla gyoza, chicken and coriander gyoza, vegetable gyoza made from more than 15 types of in-season vegetables, and additive-free shrimp gyoza. Their vegetable gyoza have become popular among vegans and vegetarians through word of mouth. Their sauces are unique, too. They have three types, which are yuzu citrus pepper, original chili oil, and Sambal (Indonesian chili sauce). They also serve other dishes such as boiled gyoza, gyoza-don (gyoza on a bowl of rice), somen noodles, snacks, and desserts. Drinks are rich in variety, such as wine and cocktails. Inside the restaurant are cute items and ornaments, creating a homely atmosphere, which is popular among the ladies as well.
●2-26-6, Ikejiri, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo
●Open: Tuesday thru Saturday 12:00-14:00/16:00-24:00; Sundays 16:00-24:00
●Closed: Mondays and second Sunday every month
●A 4-minute walk from the south exit of Ikejiri-ohashi Station of Tokyu Denentoshi Line
◾ You can have gyoza with a French taste - “GYOZA BAR AOYAMA”
It may be difficult to imagine what a French tasting gyoza is, but if you image the gyoza as the French pate, it may be easier. “GYOZA BAR AOYAMA” was produced by Masakazu Narukami, the chef-owner of “Narukami,” the Michelin-Star rated restaurant in Aoyama. When he went to Paris and saw with his own eyes how popular gyoza bars were, he decided to open this bar in Japan.
They have the classic type of gyoza with meat and vegetable fillings, but there are also creative dishes such as gyoza with coriander and myoga (Japanese ginger) as toppings and onion soup gratin-like gyoza. On the tables, there are general sauce which are soy sauce, vinegar, and chili oil. But it should be noted that they serve three original sauce with your gyoza. The fillings are basic, using pork, cabbage, Chinese chive, green onion, and shitake mushroom, but they do not use garlic, and the sauces are made to go with the wine. Other kinds of gyoza are served depending on the season. They also have a great variety of side dishes, and each food is reasonably priced, so the fact that you can easily enjoy as if you are in a bistro should make you happy.
“GYOZA BAR AOYAMA”
●205, Aoyama Alcove, 2-2-4, Shibuya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
●16:00-23:45 (L.O. 23:30)
●A 6-minute walk from exit B1 of Omotesando Station, Tokyo Metro subway. An 8-minute walk from exit 15 of JR Shibuya Station.
Summary of gyoza
Gyoza that has been established as Japan’s signature food, is condensed with the chef's strong preferences and style. Local gyoza uses great local ingredients. They can only be eaten in the local area, and the flavors are wide-ranging and all unique. When you have the chance to travel to Japan, why not enjoy a gyoza eating tour?
*The above information was last updated July 23, 2018. For further information, please contact the facilities directly.
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