It’s like a party in our mouth, and three of our best friends are invited!

Curry rice is just so great, isn’t it? Tasty and fortifying, we’re basically always in the mood for a plate of it.

But you know what? We can say all of those things about gyoza, too. So imagine our joy when we found a potential solution to our frequent curry-or-gyoza-for-dinner dilemma in the form of Gyoza Filling Curry.

As the name implies, this isn’t just some separately made dumplings plopped onto curry rice. Gyoza Filling Curry (or Gyoza no Gu de Curry, as it’s called in Japanese) takes the ground pork and diced garlic, chives, and bamboo shoot you’d usually find inside a gyoza wrapping, and instead puts them directly into the curry roux so that their flavors can fully intermix. It was also produced with the assistance of the Utsunomiya Gyoza Association, and with Utsunomiya being the center of gyoza culture in Japan, we felt confident picking up a pack for 420 yen (US$2.85) at our local supermarket

Gyoza Filling Curry is an instant variety, and you’ve got two options for preparing it. You can either put the unopened pouch in a pot of water for five minutes or transfer the contents to a microwave-safe container and microwave it for two minutes at 500 Watts. Once ours was ready, we dished up a plate of white rice and poured the roux over exactly half of it, following the curry-plating protocol that we’re not sure who developed, but which pretty much everyone in Japan follows.

Visually, it reminded us of keema curry, one of the few widely available curry types in Japan that uses ground meat as opposed to larger chunks or strips. Taking a closer look, though, we could see all of the familiar gyoza fillings we know and deeply love.

Handling taste-testing duties was our Japanese-language reporter Takashi Harada. “It’s intensely spicy!” he says, and the presence of ginger paste in the roux had his tongue tingling and sweat breaking out on his brow. That wasn’t a bad thing, though, and he was also happy to find that the roux and ingredients were properly flavorful, avoiding the uniform blandness that rears its head with lower-quality instant curries.

Something about the combination of the spice and texture of the mixture of roux and gyoza fillings reminded Takashi of phat kaphrao, the Thai minced pork dish that’s become known as “gapao” inside Japan while achieving popularity here. Overall, Gyoza Filling Curry is definitely something different from what we’re used to with Japanese curry, feeling like something the staff of a gyoza specialty restaurant would whip up for themselves on their lunch break, and only in-the-know customers would know about and order the off-the-menu dish. It’s a unique, invigoratingly spicy meal, and while we might not want to eat it every day like we do with orthodox curry or gyoza, it’s still definitely a viable meal option, Harada says.

Oh, and by the way, if you’re thinking that a combination of curry roux, garlic, and ginger doesn’t just make for a strong flavor, but also a powerful smell, you’re absolutely correct. So if you’re planning on having Gyoza Filling Curry for dinner, our recommended pairing would be some breath mints for dessert.

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