There’re a lot of reasons to want to visit Shinjuku Kakekomi Gyoza, but their importance goes even beyond the vast range of savory dumplings.
The little Chinese dumplings called gyoza in Japan, and pot stickers in some other places, can be found pretty much everywhere from conveniences stores to supermarkets and on the menu of many restaurants. It’s hard to choose the best one among all these offerings, but we think we may have found it.
Standing in the heart of Tokyo’s Kabukicho neighborhood, it’s called Shinjuku Kakekomi Gyoza and is open 24 hours to service emergency gyoza cravings around the clock. And trust us when we say they got all your gyoza needs covered with all sorts of dumpling-based creations to scratch that garlicky itch.
Not only that, but Shinjuku Kakekomi Gyoza is also a member of the Re-Challenge Support Association which helps to give former prisoners who have paid their debt to society a chance to reintegrate to society and overcome the stigma of being a convict.
But more about that later. First let’s get to the gyoza!
We sent our gastronomically hardened reporter Mr. Sato down to the restaurant to measure up Shinjuku Kakekomi Gyoza’s offerings. First off, despite its social programs, this is far from some stuffy government cafeteria. It’s has all the ambiance of a regular izakaya (Japanese pub).
It’s surprisingly cheap too! Mr. Sato was able to get a lunch set of five gyoza, a bowl of soup, fries, and rice for only 580 yen (US$4.90).
However, you’ll probably want to spend the little extra for the premium gyoza they have on offer. For example, for 324 yen ($2.75) you can get three Gyoza Katsu which are regular gyoza breaded and fried like a pork cutlet. It’s a delicious contrast of textures between the crispy coating outside and juicy gyoza inside.
Or you could try the Tomato and Cheese Gyoza, with a bit of Italian flair, and get three steamed dumplings bathing in tomato sauce and Parmesan cheese for 626 yen ($5.30).
But the granddaddy of them all has got to be the Jumbo Fried Gyoza. A single one costs 530 yen ($4.50), but you get your money’s worth. This is actually more like eating a hamburger than a gyoza.
Having tried the Jumbo Fried Gyoza himself, Mr. Sato would like to warn all potential diners that this dumpling is really juicy, and those meat juices stay piping hot for a long time. Don’t rush into it or you may end up with a burnt tongue.
Of course, Shinjuku Kakekomi Gyoza’s regular fried and steamed dumplings are also of good quality, so whatever you decide to order, you really can’t miss.
Also, as we mentioned before, this restaurant is an active employer of former prisoners by offering them legitimate employment to hopefully reduce the rate of recidivism in the community. You might think there is little connection between gyoza and reformed criminals, but the Re-Challenge Support Association begs to differ.
“We deal with ‘Social Inclusion,’ which refers to making opportunities for socially challenged or isolated people to participate in society. In doing this we often use the term ‘wrap’ when entering society, much like the wrapping of ingredients in a gyoza.”
Indeed, the world is a lot like a gyoza when you think about it: Some people are the meat, some are onions, and yes, some are even garlic. But when we all wrap ourselves up in the rice-paper fabric of society and work together as one…with the meat juices soaking into the tender…onion and all sizzling to perfection in the pan…
What were we talking about?
Shinjuku Kakekomi Gyoza / 新宿駆け込み餃子
Address: Tokyo, Shinjuku-ku, Kabukicho 1-12-2, 58th Tokyo Building 1st and 2nd fFloor
Open 24 hours