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Thursday, July 26, 2007

THE GYOZA CENTRE OF GORA








NICE DUMPLINGS

More from Japan on EAT MY GLOBE in due course, but I thought people may be interested in a visit yesterday to The Gyoza Centre in Gora (near the vacation resort of Hakone) which produces, by all accounts, the finest examples of these little dumplings of meaty goodness in all Japan.

After a morning of cable car rides and visits to sulphurous volcanic pools to eat black eggs, my travelling companions and I were just about ready for some dumpling action and bundled into the restaurant a few moments after they opened.

Already, it was packed to the rafters and it looked like we may have to wait at least fifteen minutes to get a table

Fortunately, one group of tourist were put off by the menu and cleared a table for six and we were able to sit down straight away.

The deal is that all the dumplings are made with a basic filling of Chinese white cabbage, a chive like vegetable and minced pork, to which other items are added and then wrapped in a light dough of flour, salt, distilled water with a lining of shisho.

Between our group, we just about ordered the menu with “stamina” dumplings heavy with garlic being a favourite and crabmeat dumplings disappearing fast enough to need re-orders. My own standout was a “chicken gyoza” where the outer wrapping of dough was replaced by a boned chicken wing into which the basic stuffing had been added before the whole was fried.

Unlike versions of gyoza I have tried in the west, these were light and soft on one side and crispy without being greasy on the other. You could easily down twenty or so of the things before calling it quits. Another difference is the creation of what the Japanese call “haneh” which comes from adding water to the pan as the dumplings cook which helps form a small crispy pancake at the bottom of the dumplings to give an extra texture

I asked to have a look around the small kitchen and watched one of the staff make dumplings at an alarming rate. Mind you, he had been doing it for twenty years.

Dumplings may never seem the same again
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