Gyoza Douraku

Gyoza Douraku
147 Bourke St, Melbourne, VIC 3000
03 9650 5225

A few months ago when Gyoza Douraku was still all boarded up and undergoing renovations, I tweeted this picture vowing I will go and visit it one day.

Having the pleasure of trying Japanese Gyoza at its finest in Kyoto, I was hoping that this joint will become my new favourite hangout in the coming few years.

My desperation for awesome Japanese gyoza even led me to repeatedly call Gyoza Douraku’s “Staff Wanted” number to see when they are open.  OK I am a stalker but they didn’t pick up their phone!

Anyway, finally one day I walked past Gyoza Douraku and they are OPEN!  They even have set lunch menus that ranges from $9.90-$16.90.  In I went and was immediately greeted by a friendly waitress and was seated quite quickly.

Now I got here quite early for lunch, so it seemed as if there’s no one here, but rest assured by 12:30pm this place was pumping.  I love the nice touch of giving us little baskets under the table for people to put their bags instead of putting it on the floor.  I also love the decor, it felt very calming, modern with a nice touch of Japanese.  They use wooden slates to separate several dining areas to create privacy between dining groups.

The first time I visited I ordered the $11.90 set lunch menu, with steamed Wagyu Beef Gyoza option and fried rice (or steam rice).  As far as I can tell, the difference between the $9.90 version and the $11.90 version was the choice of Gyoza.  For $9.90 you get plain gyoza flavours like pork & cabbage/ vego/ kimchi pork gyoza, but for $11.90 you get wagyu/ chicken lemongrass/ prawn/ miso eggplant & duck gyoza.

They then present you with this selection of sauce so you could mix and match you gyoza sauce to how you like it.  The selection of sauce includes chilli oil, white vinegar, soy sauce, crushed raw garlic, sesame oil and sesame seeds, I love this part the most.  Being a chilli lover I chucked a heapload of chilli oil into my sauce.  I love garlic also but only used a little cos I had meetings afterwards 😉

The lunch set includes a salad which is very fresh and had a tinge of yuzu flavour and a big dollop of Kewpie Mayo.  Yum

We got other sides like pickles and miso soup, but it was nothing special.  The soup tasted pretty bland and so does the pickles.

Here comes the gyoza! Four tiny piece of gyoza sounds pretty sad, thankfully the fried rice is coming or else I would be pretty hungry. The gyoza skin is OK, but I really couldn’t tell the difference between normal beef and wagyu beef gyoza to be honest. Once again the gyoza tasted pretty bland and there’s just too much meat in it. I remembered the gyoza in Japan having lots of veggies. I guess wagyu beef gyoza is beef only and have nothing else. Thankfully my make-your-own sauce enhances the flavours.

The fried rice came and it tasted OK. It seemed to be made of butter and pepper and not much other flavours to it. I chucked a whole lot of gyoza sauce in it to give it a bit of complexity. I reckon it’s probably a pretty calorific dish.

Another time I tried the $16.90 lunch set, which meant you get an extra dish. For an extra $5, 3 pieces of sashimi felt a little stingy.  The salmon is fairly fresh, can’t complain.

The second time I tried their fried, rather than steamed, gyoza. I chose the duck and miso eggplant gyoza this time. It tasted less bland but I couldn’t detect any eggplant or miso flavours.

Overall Gyoza Douraku is OK. I probably advise anyone to stick to the less adventurous lunch set and try their $9.90 ones first as it didn’t seemed worth the extra $$ to get the more unique gyoza here. 6/10

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