Tokyo: Experiencing Gyozas

After weaving through a maze of cobblestone streets, I finally arrived at Harajuku Gyoza Lou, a restaurant recommended to me by a friend. I strolled past the queue, and took my spot in the waiting game amongst locals, expats, and travelers all eager to enter this tiny 6×6 meter restaurant. A gush of steam and smoke forced its way out the wooden doors as I walked in. It was an open kitchen, in the middle of all the patrons. Guests were escorted to bar-style seats that made a square around the island kitchen. I witnessed a factory-like production line of Gyozas run by 3 chefs; 200 to 300 Gyozas were served to patrons each minute, along with mugs of Kirin beer. I checked the time; 4:30pm, such an odd hour for a restaurant to be completely packed. Seated next to me was an Austrian professional ballet dancer in his 50s. He told me to order the garlic Gyozas. I ordered 6 pieces, and a beer. He laughed, and said, “That’s it?” Within minutes of gobbling down these mouth-watering Gyozas, I ordered another 6, and then another… Exactly a week later, after making a road trip through central Japan, I found myself back at this restaurant in Tokyo, ordering yet another 18 Gyozas, and almost missing my flight back to Bangkok as a result. It was worth all the hassle.

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