We put these internationally lauded dumplings to the test.

Recently, our Japanese-language reporters Go Hatori and Takashi Harada have been taste-testing unusual gyoza from around the country, but little did they know that one of Japan’s most lauded dumplings was hiding right under their noses in Tokyo.

Recommended to them by a reader, these gyoza come from Maruyama Gyoza Seisakusho (Maruyama Gyoza Factory) in Suginami Ward’s Koenji, and they’re so good they’ve been listed in the 2021 Michelin Guide.

Needless to say, our gyoza-loving reporters were excited to try these dumplings, and they decided to really put them to the test by trying both their in-store and frozen versions, to see how well the cook-at-home gyoza stood up to the freshly made ones.

▼ So off to the Gyoza Factory they went.

They decided to order a gyoza set meal, comprising of 12 dumplings for 913 yen (US$8.34). Maruyama offers a choice of garlic gyoza or non-garlic gyoza, and our reporters opted for the recommended with-garlic variety. When the dumplings appeared, the first thing they noticed was their size, which were a little smaller than usual, but biting into them revealed they were tender and full of flavour, melting on the tongue with a hit of garlic that wasn’t too overpowering — the balance was just right.

▼ Now…how would the frozen dumplings fare against the freshly made ones?

The frozen gyoza can be ordered online and our reporters purchased a pack of 30 for 1,815 yen, with postage costing an additional 766 yen.

The dumplings that arrived were as small and bite-sized as Go and Takashi remembered them, but that turned out to be a bonus, as it meant more of them fit in the frying pan than usual.

▼ Go got to work with the cooking, pouring a good dollop of oil into the pan before steaming them to perfection.

▼ In a short time, they were done, their bottoms gleaming with golden brown crispy skins.

First up to taste them was Go, seeing as he’d gone to the trouble of cooking them, after all.

▼ So…how were the gyoza, Go?

Go’s smile said it all. The dumplings were juicy on the inside and crispy on the outside, which are the hallmarks of a good gyoza, and the filling was flavourful yet not too heavy on the garlic, which allows the other ingredients to shine through.

Another thing he loved was the miso-based sauce, which had also been served alongside the dumplings he’d eaten in the restaurant. As gyoza are commonly served with a soy-and-vinegar sauce, the miso sauce was a really unique addition that our reporters had never tried before, and it added an extra depth of hearty, umami notes to each mouthful.

Takashi also loved the miso sauce, commenting that it helps to cut down on the strength of the garlic, which would otherwise be stronger with soy sauce.

Both Go and Takashi agreed that these gyoza were incredibly tasty and well-deserving of their Michelin mention. They were fresh and flavourful, yet had a clean, non-greasy aftertaste, which sets them apart from a lot of other dumplings in the capital.

They were also so easy to eat that our reporters had no problem going through 25 of them in one sitting, and the only difference they found with the frozen ones were the texture of the skins, which were much crispier due to Go’s cooking style.

▼ A look at Maruyama’s in-store gyoza for comparison.

One of the advantages of eating the gyoza at home is the fact that you can cook them to match your preferred texture, and our reporters intend to continue doing just that until they’ve tried gyoza from every prefecture across Japan.

▼ So far, they’ve covered 16 prefectures, coloured in yellow on the map below.

They might not be able to physically travel to each prefecture right now, but their taste buds surely can, and whether they’re relishing the flavour of squid ink dumplings or croissant gyoza from Kagawa Prefecture with a year-long waiting list, our reporters are looking forward to bringing you along with them on their future dumpling adventures!

Related: Maruyama Gyoza Seisakusho
Photos © SoraNews24
● Want to hear about SoraNews24’s latest articles as soon as they’re published? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!
[ Read in Japanese ]