10 ways to get a great meal for under 1,000 yen (US$7.25).

It’s time for another installment of Japan super budget dining, in which our team of hungry reporters put their money where their mouth is and their mouth where their money is. The rules, as always, are that each member of panel of experts has 1,000 yen (US$7.25) with which to put together not just a good meal, but a great meal at one of Japan’s most budget-priced chain restaurants.

Today, we’re headed to Gyoza no Ohsho, also known as just Ohsho. Founded in Kyoto, Ohsho branches can now be found nationwide, and they’ve become Japan’s favorite chain for gyoza (pot stickers).

▼ 餃子の王将 = Gyoza no Ohsho

But there’s more to Ohsho’s offerings than just its marque pork-and-garlic-filled pan-fried dumplings, and with a six-piece order of gyoza costing just 291 yen, there’s room in the budget to venture deeper into the menu. So let’s see what meal plans our team has come up with for 1,000 yen or less (as always, the overly dramatic names for each set are simply what we call them by, not official terms used by the restaurant).

1. P.K. Sanjun’s“No-curveball Fireball Set”

● 3 orders of extra-garlic gyoza (319 yen each)
Total: 957 yen

So…we know we just said that there’s more to Ohsho’s menu than just gyoza…but they’re so good that simply using your 1,000 yen to order as many gyoza as you can is a totally viable plan. Ohsho’s standard gyoza already have a lot of garlic in them, but P.K. says the extra-garlic version is even better. For him, just one serving isn’t enough, and even two leaves him wanting even more. Sure, his plan is short on variety, but he mixes things up a little by sprinkling some pepper into the vinegar dipping sauce, and in any case, having 18 extra-garlic gyoza on a plate in front of him is his personal “shortcut to happiness.”

2. Masanuki Sunakoma’s “Just Barely Under 1,000 Yen Honor Student Set”

● Tenshinhan (715 yen)
● Just-size gyoza (159 yen)
● Goma dango sesame dumpling (123 yen)
Total: 997 yen

Masanuki’s fondness for tenshinhan, crab omelet served over rice, leaves his budget feeling the pinch. Luckily, Ohsho offers “just size” orders of gyoza with three pieces, half of the full order’s six, so he can still get some pot sticker on his plate and still have enough left over to just barely squeeze in dessert with a sesame seed-coated sweet bean paste dumpling.

3. Yuichiro Wasai’s “Start Off with a Cold One, then Use Whatever’s Left Over on Gyoza Set”

● Draft beer (495 yen)
● Extra-garlic gyoza (319 yen)
● “Just-size” extra-garlic gyoza (176 yen)
Total: 990 yen

There are very few culinary combinations on the planet that are as satisfying as gyoza and beer. A mug of ice-cold Asahi Super Dry uses almost half of Yuichiro’s funds, but once again it’s the three-piece “just size” gyoza order to the rescue, letting him still get nine pot stickers to savor. With a light buzz and heavy garlic, this is a comfort food/beverage mix that always leaves Yuichiro feeling content.

4. Yoshio’s “That’s Right, Let’s Get Into the Taiwanese Spirit Set”

● Taiwan Ramen – Fair Set B (990 yen)
Total: 990 yen

When we asked SoraNews24 boss and founder Yoshio what he was ordering, he instead answered by talking about the weather. “It’s so hot this summer. I just want to be free from this heat.” That led him to the Taiwan Ramen Set B, a limited-time combo of ramen, three gyoza, and white rice. The ramen has a lot of vegetables, bean sprouts, onion, green onion, and garlic chives, but the important thing is the extra-spicy broth, which sets Yoshio’s palate on fire but cools off his body.

5. Takashi Harada’s “Standard Orthodox Unstoppable Gyoza Set Meal”

● Gyoza set meal (891 yen)
Total: 891 yen

At just 891 yen, Takashi’s pick is the cheapest on our list. But when you can get something this good for under 900 yen, why waste a full 1,000? That’s his conclusion, and with Ohsho’s gyoza set meal (or gyoza teishoku, if you’re ordering in Japanese) giving you 12 gyoza, soup, rice, he doesn’t need anything more.

6. Mr. Sato’s “Upstart New Standard Tenshin Fried Rice Set”

● Tenshin fried rice (680 yen)
● Gyoza (291 yen)
Total: 971 yen

Tenshinhan, like we mentioned in Masanuki’s picks, is a standard dish at Chinese-style restaurants in Japan, consisting of a crab omelet served over steamed rice. Ohsho, though, also offers a unique spin on it called tenshinchahan, or tenshin fried rice, that uses fried rice instead, Tenshin fried rice was originally only available at a single Ohsho branch in Shiga Prefecture, but it’s now a regular menu item for the chain nationwide, and the extra-savory dish, combined with an order of gyoza, is so good that Mr. Sato feels filled with joy and courage after eating this combo.

7. Ahiruneko’s “Let’s Get a Drink at the Local Chinese Restaurant Set”

● Just-size gyoza (159 yen)
● Just-size karaage fried chicken (352 yen)
● Just-size egg roll (187 yen)
● Oolong tea chu-hi (286 yen)
Total: 984 yen

As loyal SoraNews24 readers will know, if you give Ahiruneko a thousand yen, he’s going to use it to get himself some sort of alcoholic beverage and an array of small plates to munch on while he drinks it. At Ohsho, his beverage of choice is a mix of shochu and oolong tea on the rocks, and the extra-affordable just-size side dishes give him a lot of variety in the accompanying snacks.

8. Go Hatori’s “When I Go to a Chinese Restaurant, I Want to Eat a Lot of Different Things Set”

● Just-size fried rice (300 yen)
● Just-size stir-fried liver with garlic chives (343 yen)
● Just-size egg roll (187 yen)
● Goma dango sesame dumpling (123 yen)
Total: 953 yen

Before he found his way to SoraNews24, Go used to work as a cook in a Chinese restaurant. Knowing his way around the cuisine means that he always has to manage multiple cravings when he goes to a restaurant like Ohsho, so he makes use of the just-size dishes to recreate a family-style eating experience even when he’s all by himself. Surprisingly, he’s the only member of our team whose picks don’t include any gyoza, but Go cooks pot stickers at home multiple times a month, so he gets his fix for them that way.

9. Mariko Ohanabatake’s “Ohsho Full-Course Set with Dessert”

● Just-size gyoza (159 yen)
● Just-size fried rice (300 yen)
● Just-size sweet-and-sour pork (357 yen)
● Goma dango sesame dumpling (123 yen)
Total: 939 yen

Mariko shines the spotlight on another member of Ohsho’s just-size lineup, the sweet-and-sour pork (called subuta in Japanese). Progressing from gyoza and fried rice to the pork helps ease the palate into dessert mode, where, once again, the singular goma dango makes an appearance.

10. Seiji Nakazawa’s “Full-Grown Man’s Fried Rice and Gyoza Set”

● Extra-large fried rice (693 yen)
● Gyoza (297 yen)
Total: 990 yen

When Seiji was a little boy, there was an Ohsho branch right across the street from his house. He grew up eating there, and to him Ohsho’s fried rice is so perfect that there’s no way he can be satisfied with a just-size order…or even a regular one. Nope, adult Seiji needs an extra-large order of the stuff in order to walk away from the table happy, and there’s just enough room left in the budget for him to squeeze in an order of gyoza too.

Sohere you have it, our team’s selections for the best ways to spend 1,000 yen at Ohsho. And if they all sound good and you can’t pick just one? Well, then you can just consider the whole list to be the best way to spend 10,000 yen there over the course of 10 different meals.

Photos ©SoraNews24
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