Back in the 70s and 80s we lived in Tokyo, at one stage in Shibuya, just a stone’s throw from trendy Harajuku, home to the 1964 Tokyo Olympics stadium and the crazy kawaii fashion scene. On weekends we would often stroll down Omote Sando, a treed boulevard in Harajuku known as the Champs Elysee of Tokyo, marvelling at the outlandish costumes and dances of the takenoko zoku (bamboo shoot tribe). Part of the fun included popping into one of the many hole-in-the-wall restaurants serving scrumptious Japanese fast foods such as ramen noodles, yakitori, tonkatsu, unagi, and many more. A regular tasty dish was gyoza, little crescent-shaped dumplings filled with mixes such as pork, green onion and cabbage.
So I greeted the Brisbane eating scene’s recent arrival Harajuku Gyoza with nostalgia and mouth-watering anticipation. Lucky for me, their second Brisbane branch after Brunswick Street opened with a raft of new eateries at the newly refurbed Indooroopilly Shopping Centre – temptingly close. A visit was only a matter of time.
Setting the scene, a team of hachimaki-wearing gyoza makers sit in the restaurant window, assuring prospective diners of the freshness of the product. As a greeting chorus of irasshaimase rings across the restaurant, fond memories flood back – the noisy, cheerful hustle and bustle of a Japanese eatery, the creative freshness of the food, the down-to-earthness of the vibe, the diversity and conviviality of izakaya-style eating.
As its name suggests Harajuku Gyoza offers a tempting array of dumplings, including duck, chicken, pork, prawn and veges. And – what must be a world first – nutella banana and apple with icecream. Other temptations include steamed edamame, cucumber and miso salad, chicken karaage, a selection of katsudon and agedashi tofu. For the complete Japanese experience there’s on-tap Kirin, or sake and umeshu. Gochisousamadeshita (thanks for a delicious meal)