Neatly folded and filled with a delicious mishmash of meat, vegetables, and seasonings, gyoza are iconic Japanese dumplings, ever-popular and always delicious. Most commonly served pan-fried as yaki-gyoza (juicy inside with a bottom that’s perfectly crispy), gyoza are eaten deep-fried as age-gyoza or are boiled in water or a light broth. A cheap but tasty snack, gyoza make for an ideal izakaya appetizer or a nice snack to accompany a bowl of piping hot ramen. Succulent gyoza were introduced from China after the Second Sino-Japanese War, adapted from the Chinese dumpling, “jiaozi.” Commonly found in “chuka ryori” restaurants (selling Japanese-style Chinese cuisine) gyoza have grown into a classic dish in Japan, famously crispy and golden brown. Chewy yet soft, they are best when dipped in vinegar and soy sauce, and you can also add a touch of chili and sesame oil for a next level flavor hit.
Consumed in a frenzy in Hamamatsu (Shizuoka Prefecture) and Utsunomiya (Tochigi Prefecture), these two cities compete for the country’s highest annual gyoza consumption. Both are home to a number of specialty restaurants, selling unconventional gyoza ranging between mushroom or “shiso” perilla leaf fillings or tandoori chicken flavor, even with cheesy gyoza fondue dishes! Learn how to make ramen and gyoza during a cooking class (vegan options available!) or taste gyoza with a beer during an izakaya bar hopping tour. Extra juicy and conveniently bite-sized, gyoza are more than your average dumpling.