Despite gyoza taking the center stage at this restaurant, something else on the menu provided the biggest shock of all.

On the southern Japanese island of Kyushu, Fukuoka City’s Nakasu entertainment area provides an endless selection of eateries and bars for locals and visitors alike. During our Japanese-language reporter Masanuki Sunakoma’s recent trip to the city he was on the hunt for some good food when he spotted a big green sign for what looked like at first glance a Gyomu Super store, a chain of supermarkets that specializes in big portions and low prices.

However, a closer look showed that it was actually a completely different supermarket specializing in gyoza, the Gyoza Supermarket & Pub–Hakata Nakasu branch. The only difference in the name is the last syllable in “Gyomu” and “Gyoza,” so Masanuki had to chuckle at making the exact misunderstanding that the store was likely aiming for. He had actually planned to eat some of the Hakata ramen that the city is famous for but was too intrigued by the sign to pass it up and found himself walking to the entrance. It’s located less than a one-minute walk from Exit 3 near the Nakasu-Kawabata subway station on the Kuko Line.

Upon even closer inspection, the interior appears to be more like an izakaya with a vast selection of bite-sized gyoza at extremely reasonable prices. Even the menu resembles the kind of flyer that you’d pick up at a large supermarket like Gyomu Super.

With a gastronomic adventurer’s spirit, he proceeded to order some draft beer, pan-fried gyoza, boiled gyoza, and green onion gyoza to sample a variety of the dumplings. Each plate comes as a batch of six and costs 329 yen (US$2.40) for non-members (members can purchase them for 299 yen). Even at the higher price, though, this is a real steal.

The beer arrived first. He was amused to see a name written on the glass, that of Fukuoka-born actor Satoshi Tsumabuki. Apparently writing famous locals’ names on beer glasses in Fukuoka is a fairly common practice. According to staff, singer Hiromi Go, “eternal idol” Seiko Matsuda, actress Kanna Hashimoto, actress Elaiza Ikeda, and comedian Eiji Kotoge are a few other common examples that you’ll likely be able to spot in the city. Masanuki almost felt like he was drinking alongside Satoshi by holding a glass with his name on it.

The bite-sized gyoza finally arrived, and true to their name, they were easy to gobble up in a single bite. Washing the dumplings down with gulps of beer truly felt like washing away the day’s exhaustion to him.

Masanuki found himself liking the green onion ones the most with their slightly charred and crunchy exterior.

At this point, he turned his attention back to the menu to look at something that had caught his eye earlier–the section that highlighted big, “wholesale” sizes of certain specialty dishes.

Not wanting to regret anything, he ordered local Fukuoka specialty mocchanyaki, which are giblets and vegetables grilled on an iron pan (439 yen), a “wholesale portion” pork rib skewer (418 yen), and a “wholesale portion” lemon sour (1,099 yen).

When the skewers arrived, he realized exactly why they had “wholesale portion” in their name.

Holding the skewer in his hand and turning it around, he wondered if he could really finish the whole thing.

Then, just as he was absorbed in those deep thoughts, the most gigantic single glass (scratch that, BUCKET) of lemon sour that he had ever seen was placed next to his plate.

He took a moment to check his surroundings to make sure that he wasn’t suddenly transported to wholesale-loving America.

It was about five times the size of a regular glass of the cocktail. He felt like the beer and gyoza leading up to this moment had just been a warmup and the real challenge was about to begin now.

He began to sip away, slightly regretting his order since the following day he was supposed to attend a Buddhist memorial service, and this was no time to have a hangover.

Nevertheless, Masanuki kept eating and drinking until his stomach felt like it was about to explode. His final bill came to 3,162 yen, which honestly felt low for the amount of food that he had consumed. On top of that, he also received a member’s card so the next time he came he would receive the member’s prices. It was extremely budget-friendly, and would be well worth it if he were to come in a group.

If by any chance Masanuki’s gyoza-expanded stomach causes him to feel hungrier than usual upon his return to Tokyo, we might recommend he grab a slice or two of waterpizza for a healthy but satisfying dessert.

Restaurant information
Gyoza Market & Bar Hakata Nakasu branch / 餃子スーパー酒場 博多中洲店
Address: Fukuoka-ken, Fukuoka-shi, Hakata-ku, Nakasu 5-1-7 Spoon Building, 2nd floor
福岡県福岡市博多区中洲5-1-7 スプーンビル2F
Open 5 p.m.-4 a.m.

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