The name of the place says it all: Harajuku Gyoza is bright, kitsch, loud and blaringly cute. Walking past Hugo’s Lounge and into Harajuku Gyoza is like accidentally flicking television stations to a Japanese cartoon.
With cries of “irasshaimase!” 10 beaming faces turn towards you as you enter, the biggest smile of all coming from the kawaii cartoon dumpling mounted on the wall at the back. Sit up at the counter to see the chefs at work and before you even know you want it, you’ll have drinks and edamame in front of you. Kirin on tap and iced green tea are two popular options, but drink your way through the Japanese beers on the menu for something new.
The waitresses are sweet but a little over enthusiastic, so perhaps hold off chatting to your dinner guest until you’ve ordered. The menu is izakaya-style – Japanese pub snacks to have with your drinks. Gyoza come poached or poached-then-fried, though the latter combination of tenderness on one side, crisp on the other is our pick of the two.
The bonito flakes atop the agadashi tofu curl and wave in the steam, the dish offering a balance of broth, textural tofu and shallots. A cucumber salad with miso dressing and sesame seeds is a great antidote to the chilli oil if you accidentally over-pour. Make sure to save room for the dessert gyoza – like a tiny fried banana and Nutella crepe served with ice cream.
The frenetic jazz music, sterile light and hovering waitresses don’t exactly make it a quiet Sunday night experience, but for a drink and a snack as a first stop on a Friday evening, Harajuku Gyoza will see you leave a happy little dumpling.
19–15 Bayswater Road, Potts Point