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Although the juicy pork dumplings called gyoza originated in China, they’re a favorite of both students and expats in Japan. Filling and cheap, they make a great hot meal, and are also a popular way to fortify yourself for a night of drinking, or to satisfy the alcohol-induced bout of the munchies that follows one.

While Japan is filled with gyoza joints, some of the most popular develop an almost cult following, so when we got wind of a tasty pot sticker depository called Sosan no Mise at the next station over from the RocketNews24 office, we decided to check it out.

Sosan no Mise has checked just about every box on its mass and social media bingo card, as the restaurant’s been featured or mentioned in and on TV programs, magazines, dining websites, personal blogs, Twitter, and Facebook.

Truth be told, we’d walked by their location in Yoyogi, the neighborhood nestled between bustling Shinjuku and fashionable Harajuku on the Yamanote Line, dozens of times, but never had the time to wait in the line stretching out from the entrance. Yoyogi is packed with prep schools for college entrance exams, and it seemed whenever we felt like sampling Sosan no Mise’s gyoza, there was already a mass of students that had beaten us to the punch.

To rectify this, we decided to make our gyoza run at a marginally anti-social time of after 10 p.m. We’re not sure if the would-be scholars of Yoyogi had all gone home to study or decided to blow off their academic responsibilities by migrating to the bars in Shinjuku, but whatever the reason, the late hour of our arrival meant that there wasn’t much of a crowd to contend with.

Gyoza are more good, honest grub than fine dining, and Sosan no Mise is the kind of casual place you’d expect from a restaurant specializing in the dumplings. Like at many other budget eateries in Japan, you purchase a ticket for your food from a vending machine, and we selected an order each of pan-fried and boiled gyoza, the former being more often considered the “Japanese” take on the dish. As we handed the slips off to the friendly staff, we asked if they’d mind if we took a couple snapshots of our meal. “Sure, go right ahead!” they cheerfully responded, obviously used to the frequent attention the restaurant gets from professional and social media outlets.

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When our plates of gyoza came out, we were actually a little surprised at how they looked. Gyoza are usually crescent-shaped, but the dumplings the staff put down in front of us were cute roly-poly morsels instead.

▼ Pan-fried gyoza

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▼ Boiled gyoza

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By now it was getting close to 11 o’clock, though, and our rumbling stomachs didn’t seem to be in any mood for leisurely aesthetic contemplation. We put down our camera, grabbed our chopsticks, and dug in.

Sosan no Mise makes its gyoza with a thicker, chewier skin than most other restaurants. On the one hand, this makes them a little tough to bite through, but it also ensures that the filling of each of the half-dozen dumplings in each order stays piping hot until you’re ready to eat it. It might actually be a little too effective at this, as we had to alternate taking bites of gyoza with repeatedly blowing on them to cool them down to a point where we could appreciate their flavor.

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Once the dumplings reached a temperature where they wouldn’t sear our tongues in our heads, we were greeted with a juicy, meaty flavor. The diced pork and vegetables are packed together tightly, which kept everything from falling apart as we waited for things to cool down after biting though the skin. While this is definitely a plus for those of you who have trouble with incredibly high-temperature foods (always a concern when dining out in Japan), if you were looking forward to a more crumbly texture, or maybe mixing the crumbs in with a bowl of white rice, you might be a little disappointed by the structural integrity of the gyoza at Sosan no Mise.

Still, we’ve got no complaints whatsoever about the flavor, which has all of the robustness you want in a meaty pot sticker. Factor in the fact that Sosan no Mise is just a 20-second walk from Yoyogi Station, one of downtown Tokyo’s major transportation hubs, and you’ve got a great go-to restaurant for your gyoza fix.

Restaurant Information
Sosan no Mise – Yoyogi Branch / 曽さんの店 代々木店
Address: Tokyo-to, Shibuya-ku, Yoyogi 1-33-2
Open 11 a.m.-1 a.m. the following day

Top image: RocketNews24
Insert images: Tabelog (1, 2), RocketNews24
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