Given that Kyushu is so close to China, and with Nagasaki being on the South West side of Kyushu, the city itself is very influenced by Chinese culture – and having grown up in Sydney, one of the things that gets influenced the easiest is food. The main reason I believe is the fact that most migrants tend to either work in labour intensive jobs or end up opening their own restaurant since that knowledge based jobs are limited by the language.
Gyoza, or Japanese Dumplings, is something that I have every now and then in Hong Kong, but Hitokuchigyoza (name is one bite dumplings) is something different. Since its humble beginnings, it has grown to be somewhat of a chain, but Ms Buddha and I managed to find the original store on our visit to Nagasaki.
To be honest, it is really not the easiest place to find, and whilst GPS guidance does take you close, it is actually quite hard to drive down the tiny alleyway that this store is located, as a reference the store looks like this.
The exterior of the store is very unassuming and hides what a gem this place really is. Go through the front door and be transported to olden day Japan where people just come in for a quick beer and a bite. (Watch out…the floor is a bit slippery).
Once inside, you’re greeted by a friendly bunch that look like they are all just family, we sat ourselves at the bench and inspected the menu.
We went for the traditional side and went for one traditional gyoza and one soup gyoza, then also ordered eggs with liver.
First off, I have to say these are excellent dumplings, the traditional variant had a very thin skin and packed with flavour! The fact that, as the name suggest, you can consume these with one bite makes these even better!
The staff were incredible in that they were very eager to teach us how to eat it, and that also applied for the soup variety, which Ms Buddha ordered and which I have to concede defeat again. The soup variety were absolutely delicious, and we were taught to cut open the dumplings slightly to let the soup sink into the middle a bit more.
The soup variety had a thicker skin and content was slightly less chunky compared to the dry variety, but the difference was that the soup, which was made with the dumpling fillings, added a lot to the flavour! Top notch dumplings!
Last that came was the eggs with shallots and liver, and without even tasting it, I knew it was going to be good. You can tell a good scramble when the egg is still runny but the edges are slightly brown, and this was perfect. The shallots complimented the nicely done liver and the whole combination turned out to be one of the better eggs I’ve eaten in a long time.
After the brief meal, we spoke in broken Japanese and English with the owner who asked where we were from and whether we enjoyed the food – there were photos around the store from when the store first started about 20 years ago – and it goes to show that it takes time to build something special.