From its original restaurant in Fortitude Valley, Harajuku Gyoza has spread to the other side of the river, setting up shop amongst the inner-city beaches at Southbank.
The Southbank restaurant is similar to its predecessor, with colourful plates adorning the walls, a chorus of “Irasshaimase!” chimed out to every guest that walks through the door, and an infectious stream of j-pop playing in the background that will have you bopping in your seat in no time.
Here, you can still order the famed gyoza dumplings which come either grilled or poached. Tasty fillings include pork, chicken, duck, prawn and there’s a vegetarian option available as well.
The duck gyoza in particular have a lovely gamey taste to them, and are a nice change from the standard pork dumplings found at almost every Saturday market around town.
Despite the giant smiley gyoza near the front door, it’s not just about dumplings at this restaurant. Big bowls of don and ramen are also on the menu, which are perfect for rainy days.
The tonkotsu shoyu ramen comes with the traditional pork and bamboo shoots, and is topped with a softly cooked egg. The broth in this dish is a bit overpowering, rather than being an infusion of subtle savoury flavours. For the price however, it’s still a perfectly satisfying dish.
From the sides menu, the crispy tenpura eggplant is lovely and crisp on the outside and is doused in a tasty sweet soy sauce.
To lighten up the meal, the white sesame salad is like a Japanese version of coleslaw, mainly comprising cabbage and shredded carrot. Rather than swimming in heavy mayonnaise though, it is mixed through with a sesame dressing that is light and nutty.
Harajuku Gyoza is well known for serving up beer with its dumplings, and the range of Japanese beers on offer will have you toasting “kanpai!” all night.
There is also saké on offer, as well as saké cocktails, which mixes the rice wine with pineapple and ginger, raspberry, or rhubarb.
Being leaders in dumpling creations, Harajuku Gyoza also has a range of dessert gyoza available. Fillings include Nutella and banana, or peanut butter and white chocolate.
We tried the salted caramel gyoza with vanilla ice cream, which oozed a dark, rich caramel sauce. We didn’t pick out much saltiness in these dumplings, but it is best to err on the non-salty side of caution when it comes to dessert. The vanilla ice cream was the perfect accompaniment to these little fried treats.
Harajuku Gyoza can be found at 184 Grey St in Southbank, and is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner.