I have a personal affinity for gyoza.
Perhaps it’s my love of the underdog, a sentimental identification with that misshapen parcel of ugliness that hides a hidden goodness. Or maybe it’s my sympathy for the traveller in all of us, for the stereotyped migrant who’s an individual in their own right.
Whatever! There’s no hiding my love of the ‘pot sticker’.
Dumplings have been around since the Sung Dynasty. They’ve travelled through Asia, to Japan in the 1940s, and across the seas to Australia. To the Chinese they’re jiaozi (Mandarin) or gow gee (Cantonese); to Japanese, gyoza.
Steamed, fried or boiled, served in bamboo baskets or on a plate, gyoza are in hot demand in most Australian cities, a late-night snack or quick cheap meal for those on the move.
The typical gyoza filling consists of ground pork, chives, green onion, cabbage, ginger, garlic, soy sauce and sesame oil. Modern interpretations not only include seafood gyoza, but also some complete reinventions of gyoza’s fillings: Wagyu Gyoza at both Etsu and Hideaway Bar, Foie Gras and Beef Gyoza at Torii, and the QT Hotel’s Stingray Bar’s ‘Cheeseburger Gyoza’.
Although gyoza can be deep-fried (Hachi) or steamed, even in soup (Top Noodle), mostly we eat yaki gyoza on the Gold Coast, panfried and steamed, served with their crisp edge accompanied by a dipping sauce of soy sauce and vinegar, often with a little chilli oil added.
It’s easy to cheat and have gyoza available within 5 minutes, cooked according to instructions on the back of the freezer packet, landed on the plate at home. So, what’s the catch? All the frozen prawn dumplings we looked at are made in Vietnam and filled with imported seafood such as Vannamei prawns (as feed, linked to biosecurity risks for our own prawn industry). The Australian made brands using local ingredients are the Coles Chicken & Ginger Gyoza, Crazy Dragon, and Mama Chow brand (the latter made by Innova Foods). The rule of thumb remains: avoid prawn gyoza unless you know it’s Australian-sourced.
Also be aware that even when you buy gyoza from a restaurant, they are not always freshly made, or even made in Australia. They may just be ‘finished off’ in the pan, and still taste pretty good. Some of our freshest dumplings are available at market stalls, or from specialty chefs who make these two bite wonders from scratch!
Our rule of thumb judgement is whether the dumplings are handmade by the venue, made on the Gold Coast, or packet dumplings finished off in store. Uniform dumplings are more likely to be packaged product.
So, where can you buy good dumplings when the urge hits?
Here’s a non-definitive list of some of our favourite gyoza; the ones whose melt in your mouth goodness leaves us longing for more. Enjoy!
Torii, Pacific Fair Broadbeach – As if Torii’s handmade pan-fried pork and chive gyoza dumplings are not gorgeous enough, you just have to try their Foie gras and beef gyoza. They’re a sensational special treat.
Mamasan, Broadbeach – Who could go past Mamasan’s Pork and chive gyoza with mung bean noodle crisp, ginger and shallot soy foam! Yum!
Etsu Izakaya, Mermaid Beach – Think house-made wagyu, mushroom and spring onion gyoza with chilli soy dip. Gone in a flash!
Hideaway Kitchen & Bar, Broadbeach – Steamed or fried, Hideaway’s wagyu beef dumplings dipped in chilli oil are da’ bomb! We have ours fried. What about you?
Neon, Broadbeach – Neon offers dumplings with four choices of fillings, including particularly yummy Thai green chicken dumplings, all made in house.
Mei Wei, Broadbeach – The casual dumpling bar on the ground floor of Jupiters serves ‘pot stickers’, the Chinese version of gyoza. Equally delicious but with slightly thicker skins, these dumplings are made in house; a tasty snack either fried or boiled, with three fillings available: beef, pork or chicken.
Kuan Yin, Southport’s fried dumplings are some of the best vegetarian dumplings available on the Gold Coast.
Muso Ramen & Gyoza Bar, Mermaid Beach & The Kitchens, Robina – Muso, meaning ‘without equal’, buys the gyoza skins and makes the fillings of their delicious dumplings in house. With a choice of beef, pork or cheese gyoza, they’re really tasty for the price, either pan-fried or boiled.
Zipang, Currumbin – Zipang’s gingery pork dumplings (gyoza) are locally made and delicious. So are the gyoza at Hakataya Ramen’s outlets at Surfers Paradise and Pacific Fair, Broadbeach.
Top Noodle, Coolangatta has some of our favourite soup dumplings on offer.
O-Sushi, Broadbeach and Coolangatta – Three choices of gyoza are available: Vegetable, prawn and vegetables, and chicken and vegetables, all MSG free.
Wazen, West Burleigh – There’s nothing like an owner chef to come up with the goods, the case at Wazen, where the crispy gyoza are filled with chicken and fresh vegetables.
Our faves? Past loves were Ken Tezuka’s handmade steamed Monkey magic dumplings at the Burleigh Markets. Present faves? Terence and his wife Nicole (who runs the adjoining orange juice stall) make the best pork gyoza we’ve tasted in a long time. Their ‘no name’ stall at the Bundall Farmers’ Markets sells 8 for $10, a very tasty market morning breakfast to share. Nicole makes the dumplings the night before market day, chopping the filling by hand, and Terence cooks them. The couple hail from Shanghai and Hong Kong, making their gyoza ‘pot stickers’ by definition! Who cares! It’s all about the taste!