Cheap Eats · Comfort food · Japanese · Restaurants · Tokyo

Tokyo – Harajuku Gyoza Ro

TJ had evening plans that didn’t include me. Oh boy. Hitting the Sauce was single for the night. Lucky for me, Cascara was up for a food adventure. She received a recommendation from Good Son to check out Harajuku Gyoza Ro. For this post, let’s listen to Happy End by Kaze Wo Atsumete.

Gyoza Ro is a small bar, jam-packed with tourists. Expect to wait on average about 20 minutes. Part of the issue is that customers sit and linger inside. We went in for a leisurely meal and when we left, most customers that were there before us remained there.

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We each ordered a Lemon Sour for only 450 Yen. That’s a wicked price in Tokyo! You’d think such a cheap drink would be weak. Nope. I still got a glow on.

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We ordered the original and garlic and leek gyoza. You get a set of six for only 290 Yen. The skin was thin, the bottom was nice and crispy. We ordered the dumplings pan-fried and some boiled. Both versions were tasty.

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The cooks serve the dumplings fresh off the frying pan. There’s an assortment of sauces to spice things up. For three bucks a plate, I have no complaints.

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Even better than the gyozas were the cucumbers with special miso sauce (250 Yen). The miso was sweet and almost peanut buttery. The cucumbers were so fresh, it tasted like they were plucked from the garden that day. I’m use to good produce. I purchase all my vegetables from Broxburn Farm. Cascara and I ordered another plate of cucumbers because it was that good.

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The boiled sprouts with special meat sauce (250 Yen) were meh. I would skip it. There was no flavour and it tasted like watery boiled meat with sprouts.

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I would go again. I plan to take L if he can tolerate waiting in line for so long. Thanks Cascara and Good Son for the recommendation.

Beer · Japanese · Restaurants · Tokyo

Tokyo Eats – Baird Taproom Harajuku

In the morning, our group checked out Harajuku in Shibuya. The area is known for shrines, art museums, parks and what was once a fashionable shopping district. Most of the group took off to Takeshita Street, a gaudy shopping strip packed with tourists taking selfies. Takeshita Street is home to a large Daiso, a dollar store popular with well… everyone but L and I. For this post, let’s listen to Rich Girl by Gwen Stefani in honour of her controversial Harajuku Girls.

One thing I never get tired of doing is walking through the evergreen forest to Meiji Shrine. The air smells of pine and damp dirt. The shrine is dedicated to the spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shōken. I’m not into deifying people or the dead. However, I did pay my respects to the sake and beer barrel walls.

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Cáscara suggested we try Japanese craft beer at Baird Brewery. Unfortunately, that meant we had to walk through Takeshita Street. If you look at the bottom of the photo, you can see me with an expression similar to the famous Expressionist painting – The Scream – by Norwegian artist Edvard Munch.

Harajuku entrance

Baird Brewery is on the second floor at the end of one of the quieter corners of Takeshita Street. The decor is very Japanese – consistent with cute and quaint details throughout the taproom.

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L, Cáscara, TJ and I selected a flight of three beers ($1000 Yen). I wasn’t keen on any of them. Most of the options included lagers, ales, and IPAs. The one wheat beer – Wheat King Wit – tasted flat and one dimensional. I counted about 16 beers, three of which were seasonal.
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TJ ordered Beer Battered Chicken (700 Yen). I ordered Pork Bowl (700 Yen). The pork was thinly sliced and the edges were curled from grill. Delicious, but delicate and paper thin. Proportionally,  there was too much steamed rice to the six slices of pork. Maybe I wouldn’t have minded if the rice wasn’t wet. The rice tasted like it was taken out of the cooker before it had time to set. The grains were still hard. I should have ordered what I saw the locals eat – beer infused edamame, raw vegetables and yakitori.
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Beer was decent, but not as good as the two I tried at Towa. Would I return? Yes, not for a meal but for a chance to rest my weary body and soak in the cheery atmosphere.