Gyoza revolution

The beloved comfort food is having a new moment in the sun

Gyoza, the Japanese, pan-fried version of China’s boiled or steamed jiaozi dumpling, has long been an essential snack enjoyed by everyone from ravenous five-year-olds to inebriated salarymen in need of a late-night stamina boost. Gyoza is now even being adopted by aficionados of Japanese food overseas, with fancy ‘gyoza bars’ springing up in cities like Paris, New York and London recently. But back at the source, there’s some intriguing innovation going on: here, we look at five Tokyo specialists that, while embracing tradition, offer new and exciting takes on the humble dumpling.

Check out our guide to the best cheap eats in Tokyo for more wallet-friendly meals

Five innovative gyoza spots

Anda Gyoza
1/5

Anda Gyoza

Anda Gyoza in Yoyogi-Uehara has to be one of the most laidback eateries in all of Tokyo. No surprise then that the owner tells us it was always intended to be a place for casual snacking – a diner you could stop by in your pyjamas if so inclined. Unlike at most gyoza joints in town, Anda’s dumplings are boiled, not fried, making them light and stomach-friendly even late at night. The dough they use is made from whole-grain pearl barley, while the edges of the dumplings are tucked in so as to give them a cute, flower-like appearance...

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Yoyogi-Uehara
Gyoza Bar Comme a Paris
2/5

Gyoza Bar Comme a Paris

For most gyoza fans, the dumplings are meant to be washed down with beer – but the good folks at this hip Aoyama joint are going against the grain, and pairing theirs with wine. Both their meat and vegetable gyoza are made without any garlic, which apparently makes them supremely vino-friendly. Excellent homemade sauces with flavours such as Provence herb and white miso add to the French fusion feel, while dishes such as ‘onion gratin gyoza’ further blur the culinary borders...

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Shibuya
Yangxiang Ajibo
3/5

Yangxiang Ajibo

Ajibo, a Kanda eatery renowned for its northeastern Chinese cuisine, is one of the city’s top purveyors of all things lamb. Yangxiang Ajibo, its newly opened and wonderfully casual Okachimachi sister branch, upholds this tradition while adding a few twists to the menu. Don’t miss the boiled Yangxiang gyoza, stuffed with lamb and coriander and neatly wrapped in a house-made dumpling that can barely contain the explosion of juicy flavour. And as with the original Ajibo, the wine list is carefully curated: look out for natural wines picked out by Shinsaku Katayama, the owner of pioneering Roppongi wine bar Shonzui...

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Okachimachi
Ikejiri Gyoza
4/5

Ikejiri Gyoza

Relying on the gyoza-making magic of septuagenarian superchef Madame Rose, this Ikejiri-Ohashi shop is so welcoming and homely you’ll want to move in. Rose used to only make gyoza for her family before being persuaded to make her dumplings public by a business-minded acquaintance, and the home comforts remain. Start with the Hajimari no Zen (‘beginning platter’), which lets you sample five different types of carefully crafted gyoza, including a chicken-coriander variety, a veg-only version, and gyoza large enough to house a whole shrimp. They all pale in comparison to our favourite, the Aoba gyoza...

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Ikejiri-Ohashi
Gyoza Shack
5/5

Gyoza Shack

As the name implies, this Sangenjaya eatery is low on airs and graces. Thankfully it is big on gyoza, serving up the most innovative bundles of goodness in western Tokyo. Additives are off the table completely, the dough is made with whole-grain flour and the voluminous dumplings are filled with offbeat organic ingredients. Their signature Shack gyoza incorporate heirloom Shonai pork from Yamagata prefecture and are big enough to satisfy even the most ravenous eaters. Some of the gyoza dishes can be ordered in either pan-fried, boiled or deep-fried form, giving you room for customisation...

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Sangenjaya

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