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NOT – Harajuku Gyoza – 394 Brunswick St, Fortitude Valley.

Ok…so some readers will find this one a little controversial, but I’m willing to take the risk.  Harajuku Gyoza in the Valley is one of the most talked about, raved about and word-of-mouthed about venues to hit our streets recently – and I’m going to bag it.  Read on if you dare….

After being warned of substantial queue times due to its unprecedented popularity and novelty factor, I’d suggested to my party of 4 that we meet outside Harajuku Gyoza at 6pm on our recent Friday dinner date.  To my surprise, at 6pm, with the sun still up in the sky, there was indeed a queue about 10 deep already.  Cool – I’m actually ok with that – it was just a matter of how fast and in which manner the rapidly growing line progressed that set me off on the wrong foot.

 Every few minutes a coy, but smiley Harajuku Gyoza staff member would pop her head out the door, letting a gush of cool air conditioning and echo of rowdy banter out with her to check if there were any parties of 2, 3, 4 etc to be seated…..you get the picture.   With every turn, she lead us on a little more, teasing us with the smell of gyoza and the chinking of beer steins – why was it that tables of 5 and 6 or 2 and 3, who had seemingly queued for far less time that me and my party of 4, were allowed to enter before us?  Had I missed something?  Was my invitation lost in the mail?  Official gripe#1 – if, as a venue, you refuse to take bookings, you should get your queuing processes in order so not to show preferences to parties of different sizes – why should I be penalised because I have more or less friends than someone luckier than me?

 Half an hour later, we were in!  And we sure as hell weren’t going to leave in a hurry… out of pure protest – that, and it was so nice and cool inside.  Straight up we ordered a round of Kirin beers ($8 each) which arrived promptly in glass steins.

To put it simply – the place was going off.  There wasn’t a spare seat in the place – the booths, the tables, the bar…it was all packed and they were all in the midst of a gyoza frenzy!

The decor is pretty funky at Harajuku Gyoza – cool melamine-type plates with pretty Japanese landscapes on them line the walls.  The booth and table seating are also high on the funk factor.  The stools at the bar cater well for parties of 1, 2 or 3, however the stools are very close to the counter – long legged friends beware!  When new patrons enter, or existing ones leave, there is a roar of welcomes and goodbyes, Japanese style of course, which adds to the fun, friendly raucous.

Onto the food – after all, some noise, banter and decor doth not a great meal make.  To start we ordered a bowl of edamame beans ($4), which were really tasty, but perhaps the smallest bowl of edamame served…ever.

 All the gyoza dishes (which don’t photograph particularly well, sorry) come with 5 pieces per plate for $8.  You can get steamed or grilled gyoza, with all sorts of meat including chicken, pork, duck prawn and vegies.  So to kick things off, we got one of each filling, grilled style.  Well, they were delish – they just didn’t go far.

Next round, we ordered two chicken karage dishes to share.  At $8 per plate, here comes official gripe#2 – I can buy two whole chickens for $8!!  At Harajuku Gyoza, for $8, you get 5 little morsels of ‘popcorn’ style chicken.  Yep, it’s tasty…but at this point I was still hungry and I was cringing at the price my hunger was costing me.

Another round of grilled gyoza options and some more Kirin – and we continued to watch the queue outside grow and the place still continued to go off in true wacky, cool, fun, awesome Japanese style.  We decided to bite the bullet and try the apple gyoza with ice cream for dessert ($8 for 3 gyoza).  Well, this truly was a flavour explosion and well worth a try…but I still couldn’t stomach the price.

I had barely finished my apple pie gyoza and was washing it down with my last few mouthfuls of Kirin when one of the waitresses rushed over and insisted we hurry up and leave as there were a lot of people waiting to come in.  Well, without further ado, welcome official gripe#3….no explanation required.

I love the vibe they’ve got going on at Harajuku Gyoza.  I love the food.  I love the concept – like most things Japanese, it’s wacky but it’s awesome and the people are so god damn friendly.  I do not however love the price.  I do not love the attitude behind the concept of charging exorbitant prices for food that is very inexpensive to make and whose variety is very limited.  And finally to impose a get-out-quick rule after my party of 4 spent $170 on a dinner that didn’t satisfy our hunger…well, that just aint gyoza.

 

  • Harajuku Gyoza – 394 Brunswick St, Fortitude Valley +61 7 3852 4624
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Discussion

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  1. Great review! I had exactly the same experience when I went there and couldn’t agree more.

    Posted by April Neylan | December 8, 2011, 10:00 am
  2. I had the exact opposite experience to you. I was seated straight away and I don’t think the prices were that bad..

    Posted by DWS | December 11, 2011, 3:20 pm
  3. Its just like Esquire but a big ??? mark for size of the food a little less salt and it would be a winner.

    Posted by Adam Efimoff | December 12, 2011, 10:37 pm
  4. I’m surprised for a restaurant “reviewer” that you find $40 a head for dinner, desert and by the sounds lots of beers expensive. Seems that you mustn’t frequent very many decent places about town.

    Posted by Julie | December 20, 2011, 2:56 pm
  5. Sorry to hear you’re not impressed by our “review” Julie. You’re right, $40 for dinner, desert and a beer isn’t over the top, but being hungry at the completion of the meal, $40 later, is somewhat disappointing. And no matter where we spend our cash in order to provide these reviews, we still know what value for money looks and tastes like. Thanks for your comments!!

    Posted by CazM | December 21, 2011, 2:09 pm
  6. great review! I agree with everything you said…the food was great but expensive – definitely not like the izakayas we went to in japan where we were full to the brim and quite tipsy for less than $20.

    Posted by Charity | January 18, 2012, 10:03 am
  7. Thanks Charity!

    Posted by CazM | January 18, 2012, 12:24 pm
  8. My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed Harajuku Gyoza. He is a vegan and I am a vegetarian – to be able to walk into a restaurant and order straight from the menu without the usual special requests was awesome. The cost was negligable compared to what we have had to pay at other places for specific meals and we were completely satisfied hunger wise. The atmosphere was fun, the food was really yummy and the staff, though slightly crazy, were friendly and professional. Perfect night out…five stars.

    Posted by Siobhan | January 29, 2012, 3:05 pm
  9. Thanks for your comments on Harajuku Gyoza, Siobhan! It’s great to hear you had a really pleasant experience and so good to know they cater well for people with specific diets.

    Posted by CazM | January 30, 2012, 12:56 pm
  10. I’ve heard nothing but good things from harajuku gyoza. Which night did you go there? They’re relatively new so they are popular. If your were to go on a friday / saturday evening it would be anyone’s guess that they were extremely busy.

    Posted by Rosie | May 15, 2012, 10:07 am
  11. I agree with the review 100% Exactly our experience.. A great concept, nice people, but for $50/pp for one beer, one small shot of sake and a tiny selection of very expensive dumplings (no desert / entree) – its abit rich. We all left hungry too. Glad I went, but wont be back any time soon, and nor will the others we dined with.

    Posted by Brad | August 26, 2012, 9:21 pm

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