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This is not just a dumpling; This is GYOZA -a perfect guide to eating gyoza in Japan-

Japanese people eat gyoza as 'half Japanese and half Chinese food'.

'Is it really Japanese food?' 'Yeah Probably.'
'Or is it perhaps Chinese food?' 'Maybe, Yeah'

Gyoza is one of the most widely eaten cuisines in Japan. Basic gyoza consists of pork meat and some vegetables as filling and are wrapped into a dough. The feature of gyoza is lovely frilly edges of wrapping like your curtain in your room. This extraordinary food originally derives from China and Japanese people recognise gyoza as 'half Japanese and half Chinese'. Indeed, Gyoza has supported the power of Japanese ordinary people for nearly hundred years. It vividly clarifies Japanese tendency of accepting foreign culture into themselves and create their own new style. In China, pan-fried dumpling like Japanese gyoza is less popular than boiled and steamed ones, but in Japan, almost all gyoza are pan-fried. In some home like mine, gyoza is the taste of home-cooking. When I was younger, my mother often made many gyoza with fresh meat and garlic as filling. I absolutely looked forward to enjoying the tangy filling and crunchy fried dough with vinegar with my family. Although it is difficult to eat home-made gyoza in high street, you can still experience tangy gyoza with pretty reasonable cost.

Japan's popular restaurants where you can eat gyoza: Osho, Toshu, Hidakaya and Bamiyan

Wherever you are travelling in with less than two 1000-yen bank notes in Japan, you can find out the multiple Chinese restaurants such as Osho, Toshu, Hidakaya, Bamiyan and so on. In many these restaurants, gyoza can be served. Normally 5-6 pieces of gyozas are served in one plate and cost less than 300 yen/one plate. When you get a plate, you should notice a hollow on the plate. This hollow is actually for the sauce equipped on the table: vinegar, soy sauce and spicy oil. It is pretty smart to eat gyoza dipping your favourite sauce from the hollow. If you are not familiar with using chop sticks, you can ask waiters for eating irons which are normally equipped in a shop. There is no strict rule of your choice, but 'standard' solute for gyoza is with vinegar. Some gourmets like me, eat the first piece of gyoza with vinegar, and then 2-3 pieces with vinegar and spicy oil, and appreciate the last piece with soy sauce only. Gyoza is a sort of side menu for drinking and it is not really 'filling', so you may need to order additional food after gyoza. I would recommend you noodles(ra-men) or fried rice(cha-han). The cost varies depending on the variety of ingredients/seasoning on noodles and rice.

Don't raise your hand, just push the button smartly! -The country's high tech system

When you enter a restaurant, a waiter will ask you how many companions you have got in your group, which is the worldwidely common scene in an entrance of restraunrants. After that, you can feel Japan's high tech systematic scene when you order gyoza(and maybe a chilled pint as well, isn't it?). Almost all restaurants which are mentioned above, the button of calling a waiter is introduced on each table and you do not need to raise your hand to call him. Moreover, in some restaurants, there is a touch panel and what you need to do for order is touching the panel! You can switch the language from Japanese to your mother tongue in that system, so you may not feel any difficulty in communication in Japanese language. Although the touch panel is (sadly, gyoza is sometimes not served in these kinds of 'high-tech restaurants'.) the smartest way to order, I seriously deem that face-to-face communication is still important especially in casual gyoza restaurants for ordinary people which I have honourably shown above.
Now then, I can tell you the absolutely useful and easy Japanese phrase such as 'DO-MO(どーも)'. Japanese people especially men often use the phrase in multiple situations. They often use this casual phrase when they want to tell someone their appreciation, Hello, farewell and even sorrow! Whenever you enter a restaurant, waiter served a brilliant gyoza to you and after your payment(you should walk to the cashier with a bill.), you can always use 'Do-mo' to restraunts chefs and staff to show your impression in a word. The profound world of gyoza is now open in front of you.

by Taka Saito

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