Sherman's Food Adventures: Brunch @ Gyoza Bar

Brunch @ Gyoza Bar

Alright, the title of this post is not a typo nor some half-hearted attempt to offer food on weekend mornings and early afternoon.  Rather, Gyoza Bar has developed some dishes strictly for brunch in addition to their usual favourites.  Similar to Chinese Dim Sum, Japanese "brunch" does not resemble what we expect in North America.  With that being said, I'm sure with the inclusion Hollandaise sauce in one of their items, they are doing their best to incorporate familiar brunch staples into their Japanese specialties.  I was recently invited to check it out and made it a family meal by including the wife and kids.

Of course a visit to Gyoza Bar is definitely not complete without an order of their Pork Gyoza.  We went for the 12 piece mostly because it looks better in pictures.  The dish was as good as any other time we've been here.  On the bottom, the dumplings were crispy and well-seared with a smoky caramelization.  The thin and tender dumpling skin retained an appealing chew while the pork and cabbage filling was moist, meaty and flavourful.  Served on the side was their umami soy and spicy miso.  Both went well, especially the spicy miso as it added a salty heat. 

Onto brunch, our first dish was definitely the most fusion of the bunch being the Pulled Pork Benny Bao.  Served on a lightly fried mantou, we found moist pulled pork and a perfectly runny poached egg topped with a maple miso Hollandaise.  This was really good as the Hollandaise had a background umaminess that complimented the sweet and salty aspects.  In addition, there was enough acidity to balance the richness.  Since the pulled pork was on the sweeter side, the jalapenos and onion were imperative.  On the side, there was a togarashi-spiced kimchi corn hash that was sweet (from the corn niblets) and spicy with firm, yet cooked through potatoes.

Another interesting offering was the Okonomiyaki and Chicken Karaage.  Underneath a runny sunny side egg, the thin okonomiyaki was firmly crunchy with a loose and light centre.  It consisted of finely chopped cabbage and chunks of ham.  There was an appealing ginger flavour to go with the slightly smoky and caramelized crust.  The balls of chicken karaage were very crispy while meaty, albeit somewhat dry, on the inside.  As it was doused with plenty of tartar sauce, it reminded me of a chicken nanban rather than karaage.  About that tartar, it was fresh-tasting and sharp from the raw onions.  

Onto a more traditional Japanese brunch/lunch item, we were presented with the Gyoza Bar Brunch Teishoku.  It consisted of an albacore tuna tataki rice bowl with lettuce and a wealth of green onion, onsen tamago (for the rice), siero mushi steamed shrimp & veggies, sesame dipping sauce and wakame dashi soup.  Besides being beautiful to photograph and look at, everything ate really well.  When combined with the egg, the chewy rice was bathed in a umami silkiness that had brightness from the greens and a buttery meatiness from the tuna.  We found the sesame sauce to be aromatic and tangy which was super impactful when we dipped the shrimp, mushrooms, tofu, squash and eggplant.

The kids didn't really stray far from their favourites with my daughter choosing the Bacon N' Egg Ramen.  This was situated in a smoked soy chicken broth that was full of subtle, yet impactful flavours.  There was a light smokiness combined with the meatiness from the chicken and of course the saltiness of the soy.  As the menu description suggested, there was a strip of smoky bacon and a barely cooked egg within the hot broth and chewy al dente noodles.  This was certainly interesting where the egg added a silkiness to the bowl and the bacon provided even more smokiness.   Green onion, sweet corn and pea shoots rounded out the ingredients.  

For my son, he had his standby with the Tamari-Shoyu Tonkotsu Pork Ramen.  Consistently good, the broth was its usual umami-self (is that a word?) being rich and meaty.  The noodles were chewy and firm while the chashu was fatty and tender.   Oh and that ajitama egg, it was well-seasoned and creamy soft inside.  Although Gyoza Bar is more know for their dumplings, the ramen has come a long way since their opening in 2014.  Very solid.  Overall, we found the brunch at Gyoza Bar both unique and tasty.  If you were looking for something beyond the ordinary, then you will definitely find that at Gyoza Bar.

*All food was complimentary*

The Good:
- Beyond the ordinary
- Fair amount of food for the price
- Good execution

The Bad:
- Chicken karaage was a bit dry

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