My good friend Edrea is always on the lookout for cool places to dine for post-work dinner. This time around we treated ourselves to Harajuku Gyoza in Potts Point. Famous for its Japanese dumplings (described on their website as being “Japanese dumplings of happy”), we trekked up Bayswater Road after work to satiate out dumpling fever. We booked for 6.30pm but arrived around 6.00pm and the restaurant was fairly empty at that time. The staff didn’t mind that we were a little bit early for our reservation. In fact, the staff were really nice throughout the whole evening – accommodating, responsive and enthusiastic.
Browsing over the menu, the dishes always confuse me at these types of places as I can never quite anticipate the portion size and how much I’ll need to order or not order straight up. This all means that I’m invariably in a state of flux over deciding what to get. And often price doesn’t match up with portion size. Even from the photos I browsed while Googling beforehand, it was a bit tricky in determining comparative sizes of the dishes. The menu is split up between gyoza (little dumplings), side dishes like edamame and miso soup, izakaya dishes (tofu, eggplant, chicken), and dessert (nutella and banana dumplings).
Amongst the group of us, we decided that we were going to order each of our meals individually and not do a system of just ordering everything and sharing it around. After much deliberation, I settled on the vege gyoza (grilled) ($8.00 for 5 pieces), miso soup ($3.00) and tempura eggplant ($6.00). Sporadically, parts of our meals started to be brought out. It wasn’t until a couple of minutes in that our waiter realised that we had each ordered our meals separately and weren’t going with the sharing thing (we ordered off someone different initially). We weren’t too fussed with this, but the restaurant specifically operates in bringing out one dish at a time, no matter whose it is, so FYI, if you’re expecting to eat all your little dishes at the same time.
The vege gyoza had a lovely flavour. I couldn’t distinctively pick out what vegetables were used, it seemed to be a bit more of a mush or paste with some spice flavourings, but was really tasty. Although I mainly think that is attributed to the fact that I drowned it in soy sauce – absolutely love soy sauce and frankly would drink it straight out of the bottle! The portion size was reasonable, however for the price of $8.00 for 5 pieces it kind of doesn’t balance out too well. The miso soup was lovely with some spring onions and tofu. The most memorable and interesting dish of the night was the tempura eggplant. For a ‘side dish’ it was massive and was a main meal in itself – I am fairly sure it was a whole eggplant sliced up on a plate. The battered coat was quite light with a slight crunch. The syrupy sauce it was sitting in was really unusual, almost like a slightly thick maple honey. It was quite nice to begin with but after some bites into it became a little overpowering for a savoury dish. I found that what I had ordered was actually a decent amount – I was pretty full at the end – stuffed with salty and sweet.
Edrea’s poached duck gyoza was equally as nice as the vege gyoza but she felt that the duck could’ve had a stronger flavour. On the plus side, the fried chicken (chicken karaage) with mayonnaise was delicious and was well on its way to being completely eaten and gone before I had the chance to take a photo of it. The cucumber salad with sesame seeds was also flavoursome. Not a fan of cucumber myself, I didn’t go there. Edrea felt a bit adventurous that night and also ordered the raspberry sake – a really strong and sweet hit of alcohol and fruity flavour. Others in the group didn’t quite get that ‘how much do I order/not order balance’ right, and had to order a few other accompanying dishes, mostly different flavours of the gyoza.
A really interesting and rather unusual feature of the restaurant was the choice of music. Contemporary, thrown in with some jazz and piano, then some dance tracks and a bunch of other things, in a way that kind of cuts through everything making it very noticeable. By the time we were towards the end of stuffing ourselves, I hadn’t even noticed that the restaurant had filled up considerably. If you’re there early enough, like we were, a booking wouldn’t be essential, but anything after 7.00pm would be necessary.
All in all, a delicious and filling experience, however Edrea didn’t think it was a big enough drawcard to warrant repeat visits.
Sweet and salty. “Japanese dumplings of happy”.
9-15 Bayswater Road, Potts Point, NSW 2011
Open 7 days for dinner and Wednesday to Sunday for lunch
(02) 9356 3834