Eating out: Harajuku Gyoza has a lively and bright interior. Photo: Marco Del Grande
If my son Archie could eat gyoza every day he would. These Japanese dumplings share top spot with ribs and spag bol on his list of favourite foods. So it's fitting that as an end of term treat, we take him and Lulu to the newly opened Harajuku Gyoza in Potts Point, the first southern outpost of the Brisbane original.
We're greeted with a loud "irasshaimase'' from the staff as we walk in, a refrain that's repeated for every new customer.
A few diners are seated on bright-red vinyl stools at the bar; we get our pick of the tables at the front of the restaurant under tomato-red pendant lights, their bases covered with disks saying "yum!", "sip!" and the Japanese "hai!".
Duck gyoza (left) and the grilled prawn gyoza. Photo: Marco Del Grande
It's all part of the lively, vibrant design throughout; coloured melamine plates brighten the dark walls (as well as the tables), Japanese waitresses wear red and white bandanas in their hair and the cute, smiling dumpling logo is everywhere.
The gyoza, filled with pork, chicken, duck, prawn or vegetables, are handmade daily (you can see the cooks at work) and come poached or grilled. We try almost all of them, declaring the poached duck and chicken varieties the winners. The pastry is light and rolled thin, allowing the fillings to shine. A special, grilled kimuchi pork gyoza is too spicy for the kids but perfect for more grown-up palates. The grilled prawn gyoza are served with the tails intact, which makes eating them a messy business.
A handful of izakaya dishes and some sides, including salted edamame, round out the menu.
The "tenpura" eggplant is superb, soft wedges steamed then flash-fried in the lightest of batters, sprinkled with a sweetish mirin-based sauce, sesame seeds and chives. Tender braised beef gyudon is served donburi style on top of rice. The kids polish off the deep-fried chicken karaage almost before we can pick up our chopsticks.
We (grown-ups) work our way through the short menu of Japanese beers, including a floral Hitachino Nest white ale and a nutty, light Koshihikari rice beer that is perfect with this sort of snacky food.
A fellow diner orders the sake and there are more shouts from the staff. I can see how this place gets rowdy as the night wears on, especially given its location around the corner from the Kings Cross Coke sign.
There is even sweet apple or banana gyoza for dessert. I can't help thinking they are just wrong, until I bite into a salted caramel version (a special on our visit). It's amazing.
As we're leaving, Archie asks if we can come back tomorrow. Mmmm. Now there's an idea.
Do … go to the loo; the hi-tech toilets have wash and dry functions, providing hours of family fun.
Don't … come too late if you're with kids; lunchtime or early dinner is best.
Dish … Gyoza of course. The more the better.
Vibe … Beers, laughs and bar food
- 02 9356 3834
- Cuisine - Japanese
- Prices - Gyoza $8-$9; sides $3-$6; Izakaya dishes $6-$13; dessert $9.
- Opening Hours - Open 7 days from midday to late. No bookings.
- Other Branches - 49 Brunswick Street, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane
- Author - Sally Webb