gyoza food 2

Every place in Japan wants to be famous for something or other; to have one specific dish or product that nowhere else has as much of or does quite as well. And while the port city of Yokohama might be known for its vast and varied Chinese cuisine, when it comes to gyoza – those bitesized Chinese dumplings that have been so tweaked by the Japanese that they’re often considered home-grown – Tochigi Prefeture’s Utsunomiya City is undoubtedly the place to be, with its residents proud to call their prefecture the Japanese capital of gyoza.

After taking a trip to the prefecture, we think they might just be right. Along with the dozens of delicious gyoza stalls and restaurants we encountered, we quickly stumbled upon a number of unusual gyoza-infused offerings, three of which we just had to try for ourselves. Join us after the jump for our taste test of Tochigi Prefecutre’s Gyoza Burger, Gyoza Chips and Gyoza Bread!

RocketNews24 recently brought you news of a new gyoza-flavored furikake (rice topping) that rattled our taste buds and pleased our stomachs no end. As amazing as it was, though, it’s not the only place where you can find gyoza spliced with other food.

Today we have three different gyoza products for you today from Tochigi that any dumpling fan would be mad to miss out on.

  • Gyoza Burger!

The first gyoza product we ran across was at hamburger chain Freshness Burger. Casually strolling down the street one day, a giant poster caught our eye.


Could that possibly be what we think it is? A gyoza…burger? No hamburger meat, no cheese, just delicious fried gyoza (age gyoza) in a bun with vegetables?? Tochigi is home to hundreds of gyoza shops and stalls, so it makes sense that we’d see some kind of collaboration like this eventually, but could it really work? Let’s give it a try!

First, here’s how the burger looks in the flesh:



There are certainly a lot of vegetables in there! Even though it looks a lot like daikon, most of the greens are shredded spring onions, which pair very well with gyoza. The fact that the bun is the same color as the gyoza doesn’t make the overall look all that appealing though.

Still, it’s not right to judge a book by its cover, so we sat down and got to eatin’!


On first bite, we found the texture of the burger a little strange. It’s certainly not bad, but one generally doesn’t expect their hamburgers to be crunchy. After the crunch, however, it’s all chili sauce.

The onions are quite difficult to chew through, so each bite of the “burger” is followed by a trail of spring onions clinging to the rest of the burger as you attempt to devour them. Since this is a collaboration between Freshness Burger and Utsunomiya gyoza, the gyoza used in the burger is very good. Why they decided to use deep-fried dumplings over the normal ones is still a bit of a mystery, but we suppose that is the more “Japanese” of the two styles.

Our final criteria is, how gyoza-y is it?

The taste is overwhelmingly chili sauce, which is odd, when you consider that chili sauce isn’t a very common topping for gyoza in Japan. The bread and the onions also seem to dilute the essence of gyoza.

Final thoughts

If ramen burgers could work so well, why couldn’t a gyoza burger work too? That’s a question worth asking, but this concoction by Freshness Burger and Utsunomiya gyoza doesn’t answer it very well. It’s not that it’s bad tasting, but it’s also not really worthy of the name of a “gyoza burger”.

Rating: 2.5/5 Gyozagyoza 2 half star

This burger can be found for a limited time at only four Freshness Burger locations in Tochigi. Three of them are in Utsunomiya, the other is in Nasushiobara, which the Tohoku Shinkansen (bullet train) passes through. This creation might not blow your socks off, but if you’re a gyoza fan it’s definitely one to try.

  • Gyoza Chips


These are simply gyoza-flavored potato chips. Whether or not they taste nice, at least the concept is simple and attractive.


Everyone knows what a potato chip looks like, and most chips don’t do anything fancy to make the snack look more enticing. This is just your standard run-of-the-mill chip.


They sure don’t smell a whole lot like gyoza. Actually what they do smell like is a bit of soy sauce and vinegar, two common dipping sauces as opposed to that weird chilli sauce Freshness Burger’s offering is slathered with. The taste itself falls pretty flat though. Slightly salty, slightly sour, 100% all Japanese potato chip.

“Made with potatoes from Japan and the great taste of Utsunomiya gyoza.”



These chips taste nothing like the awesome dumplings you know and love. There is a hint of the dipping sauce flavor, but when you say “gyoza chips”, you expect them to taste like gyoza, not like sauce.

Final thoughts

We didn’t think these would be amazing, but the allure of gyoza flavored chips was too difficult to ignore. Should have remembered that when it comes to potato chips, Japan has their own unique spin on them.

Rating: 1/5 Gyoza
gyoza 1 star

You can find these chips at numerous road stations and rest stops throughout Tochigi Prefecture.

  • Gyoza Pan

The final gyoza food we have for today is one bakery’s attempt to cash in on the prefecture’s gyoza fame.



Well, these certainly look like gyoza! Golden brown on the outside and with the trademark crimping on the top edge, but what’s on the inside? Is it going to be like curry pan? Or will it be stuffed with gyoza filling?



It’s even better than that because it’s an actual gyoza! Not only is there gyoza in the bread, there appears to be a spread made from chili oil all around it. This is definitely hitting all the right buttons; can’t wait to take a bite!


Wow, each bite is an explosion of flavor! Mixing the taste of good bread, (generally speaking, bread is pretty hit-and-miss in Japan), and good gyoza is a magical combination. The chili oil spread that surrounds the gyoza makes sure that every bite has a bit of heat to it. The nice crisp texture of the bread along with the moist and juicy gyoza center make each mouthful really satisfying, especially when you get it freshly baked or warmed up.

Gyoza, meet bread. Bread, gyoza. You’re going to be very happy together!



The bread has been shaped to look like gyoza, there is an actual gyoza inside, and the chili oil spread packs the flavor profile of the dipping sauce. This is perfection!


Final thoughts

If you’re looking for a different way to experience gyoza, then you simply have to try this gyoza bread. It might be a little hard to come by, but it’s hard to find more delicious Japanese bread anywhere else, and we’d even go so far as to say it alone is worth stopping off at Utsunomiya for if you’re heading north from Tokyo. Truly something Tochigi Prefecture deserves to be “famous” for!

Rating: 5/5 Gyoza!!!
gyoza 5 star

You can find this gyoza pan at the Nasu Kogen Rest Area off the northbound Tohoku Expressway.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this tour of gyoza food in Tochigi!, If you have any more suggestions for gyoza-related food, leave us a comment below and we’ll try it as quickly as we can!

Photos: RocketNews24