IKIMASHO!

Dumplings by the thousands at Kameido Gyoza

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“From China, a thousand years ago: tasty history!”


Recently, I’ve fallen into a bit of a habit of eating at the same restaurants at the weekend. Routine is good – and the food is always reliable – but I’ve told myself I should actively seek out some new places this year, even if it’s just for a small snack or whatever. I’m also using it as a way to force myself to go into places that at first seem a little daunting in terms of having to read and speak Japanese. And so the other week I found myself in Kameido, a suburb in east Tokyo, waiting in line outside a gyoza shop I’d read about. I had already eaten lemon ramen earlier that day in neighbouring Ojima, but in need of a late-afternoon snack, my mind turned to gyoza – dumplings filled with ground meat and vegetables and wrapped in a thin dough.

The shop itself was incredibly busy. When I arrived the queue was all the way down the alleyway, with smoke blaring out of the storefront and people waiting patiently to go in. I asked the lady in front of me how long it was going take to get to the front of the queue but she simply bleated wakaranai (“I don’t know.”) Just as I was about to say ‘sod it’ and leave one of the shopworkers came out and shouted down the line asking if anyone was on their own, as one seat had opened up. Result! And so I casually strolled down to the front, passing jealous couples who would just have to wait. Suckers.

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Queue outside Kameido Gyoza


Inside, the shop was bedlam. This place sells gyoza and nothing else. Literally thousands of identical dumplings being fried up and served, non-stop, all day. As you can see from the photo at the top of this post, they get regular deliveries of dumplings which are speedily lugged into the shop and then thrown on the griddle. As soon as I sat down the lady asked me how many plates I wanted. I only wanted one, but as I looked around me I saw other people had five or six empty plates stacked high, just like in a sushi restaurant. Not wanting to look like a wimp, I ordered two plates and still felt like I should be ordering more.

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One plate of gyoza: ¥250/ $2.20 / £1.70


The gyoza itself were really good, and I had finished my two plates in under five minutes. The ladies working there were constantly asking people if they wanted more dumplings and beer, and so it’s easy to see how those plates could begin to stack up. I kinda wish this shop was in my neighbourhood as it’d be a great place to bring a load of mates for some dumpling demolition. Saying that, the chain restaurant Gyoza no Ohsho not far from my house in Shimokitazawa should get a shout out too. But it certainly doesn’t have the smokey, backstreet vibe of this place.

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Shonen Knife – Gyoza

Spiced minced pork wrapped in a small pancake.
Steamed or fried tastes so good.
Spiced minced shrimps
Wrapped in a small pancake.
Steamed or fried tastes so good.

From China, from a thousand years ago.
From China, historical revolution.
From China, from a thousand years ago.
From China, tasty history.

Spiced minced pork wrapped in a small pancake.
Steamed or fried tastes so good.
Spiced minced shrimps
Wrapped in a small pancake.
Steamed or fried tastes so good.

From China, from a thousand years ago.
From China, historical revolution.
From China, from a thousand years ago.
From China, tasty history
It’s tasty history!


IKIMASHO!

Kameido Gyoza / 5-3-4 Kameido, Koto-ku, Tokyo (11am-6.30pm daily)


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