Taste Test: Gyoza Bar Rolls Out A New Midsummer Menu

We'll never let you gyoza.

August 27, 2018

By Sam Nar and Laryssa Vachon / Photo: Sam Nar

Part of the much-loved Aburi Restaurant chain, downtown Vancouver’s Gyoza Bar has just revamped its catering program, unveiling a slew of new additions for its midsummer menu. Vancouverites looking to relish those last days of summer can now get their tasty Asian cuisine fix at this stylish, 85-seat restaurant. On Monday morning, us lucky Vanmag interns put the new limited-time-only flavours to a taste test. Here are our thoughts on these Japanese-meets-Vancouver mash-ups.

(Photo Credit: Sam Nar)

1. Pork Teppan Mantou Bites

These steaming bite-sized buns are served in a traditional kimono cast iron pan with a small white ceramic bowl containing subtly sour umami ginger shoyu sauce. While the hot and simple tableware makes for a stunningly authentic Japanese presentation, it’s actually the cooking technique behind it that reigns king. The pan acts as a skillet, evenly searing the plushy dough exterior of the mantou bites to a perfect, golden brown; achieving a crispy touch to balance the juicy, pork interior. Whether you choose to douse it in sauce or not, this well-proportioned appetizer is a fantastic way to start off your meal.

(Photo Credit: Sam Nar)

2. Soft Shell Crab Karaage

You haven’t lived until you’ve tried Gyoza Bar’s new tempura-fried dish. This seasonal standout highlights a tender texture encased in a crispy and crunchy layer. The breaded and battered appetizer holds all the prevailing flavours of fresh crabs but without the mess of prying open the hard and thick shells. The chilli tomato scallion sauce adds a sweet and sour note to the dish and the cilantro garnishes are a great complement to the simple-but-delectable deep-fried cuisine.

(Photo Credit: Sam Nar)

3. Pan Fried Vegetable Gyoza

When Sam invited me to join her for this new menu tasting, the first thing I thought was yes, please. I’d heard great things about this Japanese spot and always wanted to go, but was worried I wouldn’t be able to eat anything on the menu. As a vegan, Vancouver is full of friendly, delicious restaurants–yet it’s still hard to find options at most non-vegan places when I want to try something new. Lucky for me, Gyoza Bar offers something for everybody.

Served beside each other in a nicely placed row, these veggie gyozas reminded me of pierogis in appearance–comforting my Ukrainian heritage. But upon first bite, the thin and crispy wonton wrapper allowed the gyoza to take on the taste of its own culture. Traditionally stuffed with pork and cabbage, these gyozas were filled with a savoury mushroom medley that paired in perfect contrast to the sweet citrus soy drizzled onto them. They disappeared within minutes, leaving only the mixed greens behind. Assuming it wouldn’t taste that great and that it was meant purely for decorative purposes like most greens on a plate usually are, I decided to try it anyways. To my surprise, it was actually delicious. The citrus soy from the gyoza had crept its way to the side of the plate and mixed with the vegan vinaigrette to allow a pleasant, refreshing salad taste. Lucky me!

(Photo Credit: Sam Nar)

4. Cold Ramen

It’s great that Vancouver’s streets are lined with plenty of hot ramen joints, but while piping dishes are perfect for winter, they’re less cool in the season of constant heat warnings, which is why Gyoza Bar is bringing cold ramen to their menu. Gyoza Bar’s shoyu shiitake konbu broth relies on a mixture of long-simmered bone broth and flavourful strands of Koshi noodles to create the classic noodle soup. A string of pink and slightly firm cold shrimp, topped with kizami nori, adds a tasty crunch to the ramen but it’s the sous-vide egg and the pickled cucumber slices that ties the dish together.

(Photo Credit: Sam Nar)

5. Umami-Shoyu Market Vegetable Soup

On a hot summer day, the last thing you think about craving is a bowl of hot soup. But somehow, this veggie ramen-style bowl was still refreshing in its warm temperature. A bowl of white rice on the side allows you to put in as much as you like and let it soak in the flavours of the soy-based vegetable broth as long as you please. The rapini, corn and broccolini help balance out the saltiness of the broth with their freshly boiled textures and add a nice variety to the mix. If you’re going to eat this, you better like the taste of soy. I would say the only thing missing is a bit of protein, but tofu can always be added to the mix–along with a little bit of spice. Just ask your server who, from our experience, was fantastic.

(Photo Credit: Sam Nar)

6. Blueberry Green Tea Kombucha (Back)

Hot on the heels of the recent kombucha craze, Gyoza Bar is introducing its own line of kombucha options, craft brewed right here in the city. The blueberry green tea, a crimson-red concoction decorated with a slice of green lime and light ice pieces, is a refreshingly tasty option for anyone looking to stay healthy. It features a sweet-and-sour tang expected of fermented drinks but also offers a soda-like fizziness—a delightful twist. Gyoza Bar also provides a lemon ginger kombucha (among a variety of other delicious drinks) if the blueberry-green tea combo isn’t your thing.

7. Gyoza Bar Frozen Cocktail (Front)

Strawberries are already the ultimate flavour of sunshine. Mix them in with pistachio and yuzu and voila, you’ve got the perfect summer cocktail. A dangerous cocktail, actually, since the taste of gin and rosé was subtle in comparison to the light sugary mix of the fruit combinations. But not too subtle, as it was still prominent enough that I paced myself. Served in an adorable glass with a beautifully thin slice of lime, I could happily drink these all afternoon while we still have those perfect summer days left. Next time, I’m definitely trying their other frozen cocktail flavour – a tangy combination of guava and lemongrass with Aburi Ginjo sake and lime vodka. Did they say sake? I’m already sold.

Gyoza Bar

Where: 622 W Pender St
gyozabar.ca.

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