My friends know about me and gyoza. I can't resist these fried-then-steamed dumplings stuffed with pork, napa cabbage and garlic chives, so when we rolled into Osaka, we headed directly to a half-century old joint called Tenpei Gyoza, which claims to be the originator of the city's signature hitokuchi gyoza, one-bite gyoza. The place was 20-seats small, with a rather abridged menu on the wall that read, "gyoza, pickles, beer." What more do you need? An ornery grandma manned the door, while a woman behind a dining counter spooned filling into flour skins and folded dumpling after dumpling. I watched the cook next to her prepare my batch. He lay a dozen gyoza on a hot griddle contraption. When they began to sizzle, he picked up an aluminum kettle and poured water over the dumplings. As steam lifted into the air, he covered the griddle and waited. Five minutes or so later, they were ready.
Make a dipping sauce with one part soy sauce to two parts vinegar, the waiter advised. I added a drop of rayu (chili oil), too, to add some zing. I dipped my first dumpling into the sauce, and one bite later it was gone. What was it like? Crunchy skin, light and juicy insides, with fantastic fragrance and flavor from the garlic chives. In other words, a perfect gyoza. Click here for Tenpei's Japanese website (I love it that they have a website, and it seems, a blog) and check out some photos: