Gyoza & Tukune @ Gyoza King

Summertime means more trips to downtown! Unfortunately I have to work all week, or else I'd abuse my UPass more! But it's okay, I guess it makes downtown more exciting and less boring! Today we headed to Gyoza King for lunch.

The restaurant itself is very small, fitting about 20 people on the right side with the tables and chairs, and another 10 or so on the cushions.  Of course, they also have a bar to fit more people.  It also lacked air conditioning, which they'll hopefully turn on once it gets to be more hotter in the summer.

Click to enlarge
This was my first time at Gyoza King for lunch! It is actually open Fridays to Sundays from 11:30 to 12:30 for lunch, though during the rest of the week it's open only for dinner.  We arrived at around 1 pm and there was only one table of middle-aged Japanese men drinking beer, presumably having already finished their meals.  It was after we sat around for a bit that people started trickling in.  There were at least two other tables of Japanese people, so I presume it is pretty authentic.  Besides the normal menu, they have a lunch menu in cute Japanese handwriting.  I always wished my font was as cute as theirs.

To share, we ordered the gyoza king special box ($12).  We weren't too sure what chicken nanban was, even after the server tried to explain, and I wasn't in the mood for ramen.  This box seemed to be the most interesting on the list of specials.  This came with a choice of sashimi or grilled mackerel.  A surprise for me was the spinach with sesame sauce in the top right compartment.  I haven't been a fan of spinach as a child, but I've recently learned to accept it more.  It looked nicely put together in a little bundle, though there was actually nothing tying the leaves together

I was pleasantly surprised to see that there were three pieces of tuna and not two.  They were really big pieces too, compared to the salmon sashimi.  I'm not a fan of tuna, but it was quite fresh and sweet.  I wish the salmon pieces were bigger; it was also very fresh too.  There was also finely chopped tuna.  Topped with green onions and a bit of sauce, this was interesting with the rice.  Was this a part of the chef's special?

On the left being skewered are the two pieces of tukune (chicken meat ball).  I didn't really like this because I thought it was a bit over fried and very oily.  In the middle are the two deep fried prawns, which I thought was the best out of these three.  The prawns seemed fresh and were crunchy, though one was much bigger in size than the other.  I felt the chicken karaage on the right was overly fried too.  The tiny ball of potato salad was okay.

The deep fried curry gyoza is basically their standard gyoza, filled with a filling similar to the curry found in "curry buns" at Chinese bakeries.  But unlike those curry fillings, this one was very fragrant and had a strong curry flavour.  The skin of the gyoza was not hard, but it wasn't that crispy either.  It was placed next to what I assume to be also the "chef's special dish", which is something like fried fish skin.  It was pretty interesting, but by the time I got to it, they were already pretty cold.  Where was my taro and yam! I guess the fish skin replaced it, sadly.

We also ordered the 10 pieces of ganso (pork and vegetable) gyoza ($7).  If you count, there are actually only  pieces (one is hidden), but we didn't complain about it because it's just one piece.  Halfway through our meal though, the server brought us 2 pieces of gyoza on a small plate and apologized for being short on the gyoza.  I wonder how they found out, because it wasn't immediately that they noticed either.  When it arrived, the first gyoza I had was really good.  It was bursting in juices and broth, and the skin was really thing.  It was also one of the most beautifully wrapped gyozas I've seen.  I've never seen the folds on the side so equal and perfect.  (See the curry one for a side profile, and you'll know what I'm talking about.)  After that, however, the gyozas cooled down way to quickly, which was strange considering there was no air conditioning.  They weren't so great after that.

I enjoyed the lunch box a lot because it gave me a chance to sample a whole bunch of different things! It was overall quite well done.  The gyozas were good too, but it was unfortunate that they cooled down so quickly.

Gyoza King
1508 Robson St
Vancouver, BC
(604) 669-8278
Gyoza King on Urbanspoon

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The best way to describe nanban would be fried food which is then "marinated" (? For the lack of a better word) in acidic condiments, usually lime or vinegar. If you have heard of escabeche or escovitch, then you have a good idea of what to expect. Sorry, I don't think I can't think of a Chinese dish where I would be able to draw some comparison...

@KimHo: Ohhhh! Thanks for putting it into better context for me. That sounds interesting, though I wonder what the Japanese style nanbaan would taste like.
I'm assuming you've tried it before? How do you like it? :D

I have tried the chicken nanban at Miku Restaurant (or, at least that's how it appeared in the menu). The actual end product? It looked like chicken karaage with a big dollop of watery tartar sauce. Personally, I would have preferred it as chicken karaage with tartar sauce on the side. I mean, people, fried food, just leave it as is!

@KimHo: Hahaha! Chicken karaage is delicious and definitely a fave for me, I should still give the nanbaan in watery tartar sauce a try though.... I think... haha! Thanks :)

Funny, I've been to some of Gyoza King's affiliated restaurants, but I don't remember much about my experience at Gyoza King (like 10 years ago, haha!)....just long line ups!

@Peter: yeah, they have a lot of restaurants under Gyoza King! Lunch is pretty quiet there, but it definitely has a different feel from dinner (but you don't have to line up... haha)

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