*Special Thanks to Harajuku Gyoza for the invite!

Open the door to Harajuku Gyoza and you’re immediately greeted with loud exclamations of “Irasshaimase!”

The friendly and energetic staff are one of Harajuku’s attractions. They act exactly as they would in a Tokyo Izakaya, albeit a few decibels louder. They’re impressively attentive, going out of their way to achieve their mission: make you leave with your “happy face”.

Grabbing a seat at the counter is a must – Harajuku’s kitchen is really open, allowing you to see the action up close and personal.

Chicken Karaage

Itadakimasu! It was time to eat, and what better way to start than with chicken karaage.

Harajuku nailed it – juicy chicken? Check. Crispy coating? Check. The accompanying kewpi was creamy, though wasn’t as zing-y as I’d hoped. A drizzle of lemon sorted that out nicely!

We couldn’t go to a restaurant with ‘gyoza’ in its name and not try some!

Lemongrass chicken gyoza

This was my favourite gyoza of the day. The lemongrass flavour simply shined against the chicken filling, lending some herbal and citrus notes to each bite. I loved pairing these gyoza with a vinegar, soy sauce & chilli oil dipping sauce to add a tart edge with a kick!

Pork and prawn gyoza with spring onion dressing

Our next gyoza were slightly overshadowed by their lemongrass chicken brethren. Whilst there was a noticeable salty hit from some fresh prawns, my tastebuds couldn’t really find the pork. The spring onion dressing was okay, adding some salty herbiness – though it didn’t pack as much of a flavour punch as Harajuku’s standard dipping sauce.

Pork belly open gyoza

This was the first time I’d encountered an ‘open gyoza’ – described by the waitress as “kind of like a Japanese taco”.

Theres no way of avoiding it – when you eat these beauties, you’ll make a complete mess of it. Embrace the fact and let the flavours take you to your happy place.

With my first bite, I immediately noticed two things.

One – that the pork belly strips were amazingly juicy and had a slight sweetness from their marinade.

Two – the fried gyoza shell that acted like a taco was super crunchy. It’s texture really bought the morsel to the next level.

These things are incredible. If they were somehow smaller so you could fit a full one in your mouth at a time and bypass the whole made-a-complete-mess-of-myself thing, you’d probably see these at the Night Noodle Markets. Or you still would and not care once you try them.

Harajuku Japanese souffle pancake

Looking like thick, adorable Macca’s pancakes are Harajuku Gyoza’s latest menu item – Japanese souffle pancakes!

Each three-tiered stack is made-to-order. On the day I felt for the guy on pancake duty busting out pancake after pancake. They’re already pretty popular and for good reason!

Texture-wise, they are light and fluffy, practically melting away as you eat. They come with four toppings – maple syrup, Nutella, cream and sliced banana. I enjoyed the maple syrup & Nutella combo the most.

Harajuku Gyoza is a great spot to grab some beer food and leave with a “happy face”. There isn’t much time left to try their souffle pancakes – so get in quick!

Harajuku Gyoza Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Written by Lachlan Munnings (@mister_eats)