The best gyoza...

…is found in little side alleys. We already suspected this, but recent events have confirmed it.

Tenka Gyoza is dead; long live Tenpei Gyoza

It took us most of a week to get down to Osaka, only to discover that our favorite little third-floor hole-in-the-wall gyoza joint closed less than two weeks ago. We had gotten to Dotonbori around 1pm and checked to make sure her sign was still there, but since she didn’t open until 5, we didn’t go up until after we’d done our sightseeing and shopping.

Fortunately, there were two guys inside renovating for the new owner (sounds like it will just be a bar), and one of them knew that she’d retired and sold the place, and recommended we head back up toward Umeda station and try Tenpei.

We each devoured 50 hitokuchi (one-bite) gyoza too quickly to get a picture of them, but here’s their little English sign with a history of the place and the correct proportions for mixing up your own gyoza sauce:

I’d prefer to believe that the lady at the other place invented hitokuchi gyoza, but I’d need to spend a lot more time in Osaka researching the history of this most delicious incarnation of pan-fried dumplings. Tasty, tasty research.

If you want a higher filling-to-wrapper ratio, our other new find is a block up from Shijō off Karasuma in Kyoto, Tiger Gyoza Hall. They have a full menu for some reason, but if you just walk in and say “pukkuri gyoza, hakko”, you’ll be very happy. We’ve been there three times now, and I’m pretty sure there will be another visit before we leave town.

The unbelievably awesome teppanyaki restaurant Hanaroku deserves a post of its own…

Unrelated pro tip: if you use the new SmartEX app to purchase shinkansen tickets, guard that credit card with your life. If you somehow manage to lose the card (first time in my life…), you cannot pick up your tickets. At all.

The workaround is to use the app to cancel and resubmit your reservation with a different card, but this is not a practical solution when it’s the Friday afternoon where the entire country is going on vacation. The girl at the JR counter was politely apologetic, but didn’t think of what seemed obvious to me: have her place the order as soon as I hit the “cancel” button. Once we were synced up, we turned our keys and rebooked the same seats. Crisis averted, and there’s no sign that my card was used by anyone before I reported it lost.

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