We play Russian Roulette with some surprising flavours.

After trying Wasabeef wasabi gyoza and pot stickers covered in gold leaf , we foolishly thought we’d conquered the pinnacle of weird gyoza flavours in Japan. This week, though, after a Japanese reader recommended an Okinawan gyoza specialist called Ryuminmin to our Japanese-language reporters, it became apparent there was still a whole world of unusual fillings for us to try, so we immediately put in an order for eight of their most popular varieties.

▼ Top to bottom, left to right: Ryuminmin regular, habanero, taco, goya (bitter gourd), Agu (Okinawan pork), garlic, mozuku (Okinawan seaweed), and squid ink.

With 12 dumplings in each pack, it would be impossible to eat all these in one sitting, so our reporters Takashi Harada and Go Hatori decided to play Russian Roulette with them, putting three of each into a pan together to create a wheel of mystery dumplings.

Our two reporters had a meeting with a client later that afternoon, so they decided to keep their breath fresh by forgoing the regular and garlic varieties (which both contain garlic), meaning they had a total of 21 gyoza between them.

▼ Go immediately whipped out his frypan and got to baking the delicious morsels right in the office.

Once they were complete, they all looked exactly the same, so neither Go nor Takashi would know what flavour they were picking out from the wheel of fortune.

Of course, the one gyoza they both wanted to avoid was the habanero, which promised to be the hottest dumpling they’d ever tasted. They each picked one out tentatively and…

▼ It was the habanero!

Straight off the bat, our reporters had slaughtered their taste buds with the spicy heat of habanero.

The chilli exploded in the mouth instantly, making their eyes water and their tongues tingle. Thankfully, the heat didn’t linger for long, though, so once it had subsided, they were able to enjoy the flavour, which was surprisingly delicious.

Next up, our reporters found themselves enjoying the rich flavour of Agu, a prized Okinawan meat sourced from the black pig native to the island chain.

▼ Takashi waxed lyrical over this one, saying it was juicy, and incredibly delicious.

With their client meeting fast approaching, our reporters hurriedly munched through the other varieties: the squid ink tasted like squid ink, but didn’t look as black as they’d expected it to; the goya was only slightly bitter, and a surprisingly good match for gyoza; and the mozuku was slightly slimy but much easier to eat than if it were on its own.

Agu, mozuku, and goya are well-known specialties from Okinawa, so it was a rare treat to be able to taste them inside a soft, juicy dumpling. There was one more Okinawan specialty they were yet to try however: Taco.

That’s right, tacos are another local specialty you’ll find in Okinawa, specifically served up as taco rice, which is basically a taco filling on a bed of rice. Due to the strong American military presence in Okinawa since the end of World War II — the island was under American administration until 1972 — tacos and rice became a local fusion food that remains popular to this day.

▼ According to Go, taco gyoza is even better than taco rice.

While the taco gyoza was definitely a standout favourite for both our reporters, they were incredibly impressed with every flavour they tried, and highly recommend them to all gyoza lovers.

Ryuminmin is a longstanding business that’s been serving up gyoza since 1965, and their skill and technique in making unusual dumplings shines through in every deliciously well-balanced mouthful. We ordered ours online via their store on the Yahoo! shopping site, where eight packs came to a total of 4,980 yen (US$45.75), which worked out to around 52 yen for each dumpling.

If that’s got you hungry for more unusual gyoza adventures, don’t forget to check out this unstaffed chainstore that’s open 24 hours a day, and feast your eyes on this croissant gyoza, which we waited a whole year for.

Related: Ryuminmin,Yahoo! Shopping/Ryuminmin
Photos © SoraNews24
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