Japanese dumplings are considered a side dish at many restaurants, but at this store, they’re the star of the show.

After a busy session of testing out some crazy facekini wear, our Japanese-language reporter Mr. Sato felt a familiar rumbling in his tummy, signalling a breakfast long overdue for the food fanatic.

He zipped out of the office in search of something that could quickly fill his tummy. He had heard of a restaurant called Wanko Gyoza recently opening on 14 August, and thought it the perfect opportunity to sample some of its offerings.

▼ The storefront sign, saying “Gyoza is the main dish” caught him by surprise.

The nondescript restaurant was just a three-minute walk from the north entrance of Okachimachi Station, located on the eastern side of an underpass.

▼ Each gyoza dish costs 250 yen (US$2.30).

Mr. Sato arrived at about 11:30 a.m., and since it was an awkward time between breakfast and lunch, there wasn’t a single soul in the establishment. The sign reminded customers that all gyoza were freshly made, but also warned them that rice would not be served.

▼ Souvenir in the form of fried gyoza or frozen gyoza could be purchased too.

A minimum order of two gyoza portions was required, which was fine as our crack reporter was really hankering for some fresh dumplings. He took a seat and pored over the menu options.

▼ Aside from gyoza, only drinks occupied the menu.
Truly a gyoza specialist shop.

It dawned on our reporter that the store resembled more of a pub than an actual restaurant. Nevertheless, it could still serve as an affordable place for gyoza lovers.

Mr. Sato ordered two servings of gyoza and eagerly took a little flag that read “Full stomach” back to his table.

▼ To be exchanged for his long-awaited first meal of the day.

Each serving was made-to-order, which meant he had to wait three to four minutes for his dumplings to arrive. He also noted that additional orders would only be taken after the first two portions of gyoza were out.

▼ Five dumplings made up one serving of gyoza,
making a total of ten piping hot parcels of meat and vegetables.

▼ One of the hallmarks of making great-tasting gyoza is to fry one side and steam the other.

▼ And that one side was fried to crispy perfection.

▼ The thin layer of gyoza skin crunched nicely as he bit into it,
releasing meaty flavors with hints of ginger.

▼ They were irresistible bite-sized wonders that would pair very well with beer.
He ordered ten more.

▼ Although some looked a little charred this time, they still tasted great.

Mr. Sato had been so busy devouring the delicious gyoza that he forgot about the chilli oil provided with his meal. It was rather garlicky and had a nice punch to it.

▼ By trying different ratios of soy sauce and chilli oil,
he felt he could go on eating forever.

▼ Another ten arrived.

As Mr. Sato began on his 21st dumpling, he realized that the restaurant’s one and only food item was truly good enough to be the main dish.

▼ No wonder they didn’t serve any rice at all.

Looking at his last piece wistfully, Mr. Sato felt he could consume 50 of them without breaking a sweat. They were light and crunchy, yet deeply satisfying.

“What a delightful meal.”

Mr. Sato emerged from the restaurant with a broad smile on his face, the look of a man who had just found a treasure chest full of delicious dumplings. He hadn’t felt this good since tasting that luxurious Ginza sea urchin ramen. Bidding a silent farewell to the store, he vowed to return someday to finish his 50 gyoza.

Store information
Wanko Gyoza / わんこ餃子 餃子は主食。
Address: Tokyo-to, Taito-ku, Ueno, 5-20-14
Open: 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
※ Opening hours may be subject to change.

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