Gyoza King

May 7th, 2007 · No Comments

 Gyoza KingGyoza King
(604) 669-8278
Address: 1508 Robson St (map)

Simple Rules
a Quick Bite

By Jason
Eat Vancouver writer

To be perfectly candid, I don’t have a lot of experience with izakaya (Japanese tapas) dining, but I’m hoping that will be an advantage in reviewing Gyoza King. Izakaya is pretty much unknown in the Washington DC area, and for some reason I never really got into it when I first came to Vancouver. So, it’s with few preconceived notions about izakaya and no allegiances to various izakaya spots that I tackled one that I had heard much about for its popularity and late hours, Gyoza King on Robson.

My dining companion and I both enjoyed the décor at Gyoza King, with wall-mounted lights casting shadows throughout the small, dimly lit room. The ambiance was slightly marred by the office-space like tiled ceiling and steamy climate. Before ordering, we were also amused by the several rules posted in the menu that dealt with where to queue (not inside the building please), the time limit (two hours), the number of credit cards allowed per table (two), and where to record your credit card transaction (your diary, apparently). We could only muse over the situations that led to the creation of these rules. Unfortunately, the rest of the menu was about as long and as daunting as the rules, so, knowing that nothing on the menu was too expensive, I asked the waitress to choose about five items for us to try.

karubiShe started us off a with slightly telegraphed but much appreciated offering, sending out the ebi mayo ($5.75), or in other words, delicately fried shrimp with an ultra tangy mayonnaise-based sauce. Both the mayonnaise sauce and the fish were perfectly done, but I couldn’t help but shake the feeling that there should be a third note here, but then again sometimes simple is good. The second dish, karubi (grilled short ribs, $5.50), was also executed perfectly, cooked medium rare with smoky and garlicy accents. Our waitresses’ third offering was something of a hanging curve, a fairly decent version of gayu (beef) tataki ($6.50). Although the filet was cooked to perfection, seared lightly on the exterior, the dish needed some additional flavor from the bland ponzu sauce. We also received a very fine dish of six gyoza ($4.95), which seemed appropriate given the name of the restaurant. They were probably the best gyoza I’ve had, thinly skinned with a pork and ginger filling that popped with flavor. The bottoms of the skins crunched while the top retained its sticky steamed texture, the exact call sign of well prepared potstickers. Finally, we were offered a bowl of excellent barbeque pork ramen ($7.25). I have never been a fan of ramen, tending to think the broth isn’t quite as interesting as pho, but this was one of the better ramens I’ve had, featuring perfectly cooked noodles and an aromatic broth. The one puny slice of pork was a bit betrayed the rest of the dish.

Upon relecting on the meal, the overall message is clear: Gyoza King’s execution is great, but the dishes often seem overly simple. In other words, Gyoza King is the Mark Redman of restaurants. Mark Redman isn’t going to win any Cy Young awards and his stuff isn’t electric, but he does what he does well, and at the end of the day, he’ll keep you in ball games. Gyoza King is cut from the same stuff, featuring simple, but well prepared dishes. If dishes are mixed and matched, it’s very possible to create an interesting meal. I don’t know if this typical of Izakakya, but I’m eager to try out some of the many others around town.

Gyoza King on Urbanspoon

Tags: Japanese · Quick Bites

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