A week ago, Whipping Girl and I made our way to Gyoza King in hopes of an Izakaya lunch. However, unbeknownst to us, the only things available were ramen, donburi and gyoza. Despite the decent meal, we were longing for the late-night menu. Instead of waiting for her to revisit the place at night, the hockey team ended up there after our Friday night game. I guess I'll have to face the consequences for my actions later... Possibly a whipping? Uh...
Well, we were able to get a table after a 30-minute wait, but that was not without them asking a couple to move their seats. Lucky for us and yes, we thanked the nice couple. Once seated, we got down to ordering and the food came out pretty quick starting with the Tofu Salad with sesame dressing. Seemingly simple, the aromatic dressing was not overly salty nor sweet. Hence, the true flavour of the sesame really came through. I found the tofu to be somewhere in between firm and silky which meant they stayed intact. Next was my personal favourite being the Ebi Mayo. This was a good version with crispy battered prawns which exhibited a nice snap. The mayo, which was sweet with a slight spice, wasn't laid on too thick.
Moving along, we had the Nasu Dengaku (broiled eggplant with miso). The large slices of eggplant were soft, yet maintained a textural integrity. The large amount of sauce on top didn't overwhelm as much as it looked. It was only slightly salty with only a mild hit of acidity. By virtue of being known as "Gyoza King", we went ahead with an order each of the Pork and Chicken Gyoza. Much like my visit for lunch, the gyoza were fried up golden brown on their bottom sides The rest of the dumpling skin was thin and toothsome. As for the filling, I liked both as they were moist and flavourful with a good mix of greens. The dipping sauce was a nice balance between sweet, salty and sweet.
For some reason or another, we went on a tuna binge starting with the Negitoro. Despite not looking like much, the amount of tuna was substantial, especially for the amount of nori. The tuna was soft and buttery (fatty tuna) while somewhat neutral tasting. Yet, when mixed together with the green onions and slightly spicy dressing, the flavours came alive. Onto our second course of tuna, we had the Spicy Tuna Sashimi. The cubes of tuna were fresh-tasting (as much as flash-frozen fish can get) while exhibiting a nice sheen. With a drizzle of sweet hot sauce, I wouldn't categorize the dish as actually all that spicy, but then again, Japanese food is about balance.
Our third course of tuna ended up to be the Tuna Tataki. As illustrated by the picture, the piece of tuna was uniformly seared on all sides. With just the right amount of sear, the rest of it was beautifully rare. Hence the texture was soft and moist. With a dip into the salty and tart ponzu, this was a pleasant enough dish. Changing it up a bit, we had the Garlic Salmon with ponzu, garlic chips and mayo. For me, the mayo was unnecessary as it didn't add any flavour, rather, it started to curdle and look unappetizing in the ponzu. As for the salmon, it was buttery and was accented well by the ponzu and aromatic garlic chips.
For our next 2 dishes, we had some starches including the Kimchi Fried Rice. Although a bit soft and not really exhibiting a lot of caramelization, the rice was flavourful with some spice. We felt the kimchi was a bit weak since it lacked both colour and impact. Yet, we needed to remind ourselves that this was not Korean kimchi. Whatever the case, I thought there should've been more of it for textural purposes. We also got an order of the Shio Ramen which featured a fairly light broth. It wasn't bland nor was it overly salty though. It did lack some real body. As for the noodles, they were al dente while the chashu was moist and soft.
Lastly, we shared the Agedashi Tofu that looked pretty typical (not including crappy versions at AYCE places). Hence, there was grated ginger, daikon, green onions and bonito flakes. The tofu itself was soft while the exterior was lacking crispiness. I did like the sauce though as it was nicely balanced. With the lunch visit notwithstanding, my nighttime visit to Gyoza King was the first time in over 5 years. During that time, many other Izakayas have opened up, however, Gyoza King still does the job for me despite being a bit less refined and definitely less sexy.
- Solid eats
- Accommodating staff
- Really small with tight seating
- Less refinement like a Hapa or Suika