There’s this new potsticker (aka gyza, aka dumpling) restaurant that opened in Paris, that people are actually lining up to get into. We wondered what all the fuss was about, so we went there to check it out ourselves.
Gyoza in Japan are known as that food that originated in China but since evolved into a unique, everyday person’s dish. In China, it’s most common to boil them, but in Japan, pan-fried is how they’re usually eaten. We heard that these Japanese-style gyoza were making waves in Paris, France, so much so that people were forming long lines outside the restaurant wanting to get into GYOZA BAR!
More popular than local cuisine
GYOZA BAR is located in central Paris, near Richilieu subway station. Though it’s surrounded by French cuisine restaurants, it is the only one where people are lining up outside to get in.
Get there plenty early
When we went at 8pm, there was a line of about 15 people. Since there are only 12 seats, and most people, once seated, spend time enjoying beer and conversation, the wait can be quite long. Even then, customers remain faithfully in line – the food is that delicious(?)
Only counter seating
After our 40 minute wait, we were finally admitted in and took our seats at the counter. This made it feel more like a bar than a restaurant. You even communicate directly with the staff on the other side of the counter.
A singular menu
The only entree on the menu is gyoza. Other than that, you can order none other than Ebisu brand beer. 8 gyoza go for 6 euros, 12 for 8 euros, and one beer is 4 euros. They even served the Japanese-style appetizer of bean sprouts.
The gyoza are cooked to order, so we had some time to wait after ordering. We thought that most of the people here would be men in business suits, but when we looked around, we saw that most of the customers were casually dressed couples and people in their early 20s. This joint seems to truly be a bar more than restaurant, where people come to nibble some food, have a beer, and hang out talking with friends.
View into the kitchen
The kitchen is basically just on the other side of the counter, so we could see all of the food preparations. The staff opened the lid of the steel gyoza cooker to reveal rows of steaming little gyoza, just waiting to be plated and transferred to our mouths! We just hope we didn’t look to hungry and desperate, straining our necks to see what was inside the cooker.
A familiar sight
Actually we were quite hungry so it’s possible this factored in when we finally laid eyes on the finished gyoza, as we saw a mesmerizing sight: a reassuringly familiar-looking row of potstickers – we could practically taste that back-home taste.
The dipping sauce
That crucial piece, the dipping sauce, was a GYOZA BAR original. It didn’t contain any chili oil, but we could discern the taste of soy sauce and some kind of citrus acidity. We couldn’t say whether it’s similar or different compared to the sauce in Japan, only that it had a finely balanced flavor.
A startlingly delicate taste
Enough analytical observing. Time to chow down. We dipped the gyoza in the sauce and popped it into our mouths to find a very delicate taste. We wondered if such a subtle taste could even be found in Japan.
The humble ingredients
The gyoza wrapper, the filling, the dipping sauce – none of these overpowered or particularly stood out over the others. This is not to say there was anything lacking. We’d say the ingredients were functioning “humbly” rather than “ostentatiously”.
Lowbrow? Or just low-key?
On the one hand, it’s as if the owner/chef of some local eatery said, “These gyoza aren’t usually on the menu, but we just threw it together on a whim for you regulars”. Because the ingredients are so delicate, some people might feel like these gyoza don’t pack enough oomph. But in our opinion, they were never meant to send shockwaves into your brain – they’re delicious in their own way.
Go in small numbers
As we said, this place is pretty small. If you go in a group of 4 or more, you can expect to wait for a long time before getting seats together. Or get there well before opening time.
[ Read in Japanese ]