|Gyoza Moriawase (£9.50)|
|Crispy Japanese Chips (£3.80)|
I do wonder if infact there is a “proper debate” when it comes to humble dumpling, but I am astonished to learn that I have but merely scratched the surface! Over the years, I have fallen in love with the Nepalese momo in Kathmandu, discovered Polish pierogi in London (of all places!), scoffed Chinese har gau for dinner 3-4 times per week for the last year, and completely overlooked the fact that Italian ravioli is indeed, also a variety of dumpling (probably why I love it so!). BUT, did you know that there are over 20 varieties of dumpling from around the world?! The Vietnamese have a chewy tapioca dumpling (banh bot loc), Mongolia fill their buuz with mutton, the Korean’s use kimchi in mandu, and the Turks stuff manti with minced lamb among others. All variations on the same theme I hear you cry...
|Lamb Jalapeño Bun (£5.00)|
Greeted by immeasurably friendly staff, willing and able to seat me without a reservation (I rather wrongly hadn’t thought to bother), the maitre’d must’ve read my mind because she tucked in a little alcove, looking out to the restaurant before me (otherwise known as the best seat in the house…in my world at least!). The drinks list nodded to the orient in the right places, but also gave me a buttery dry chardonnay, which was enough to please me very much after a busy day a la work. The menu is much more than just gyoza too, so brace yourself for some tasty bao and at least six varieties of ramen. I wish I’d tried the ramen, but I can tell you that the bao were overall very satisfying (not quite up to the benchmark set by Bao, but still very good). The breaded chicken in the Chicken Katsu Bun (£4.50) was a little dry and I wish the lamb in the Lamb Jalapeño Bun (£5.00) was a little more melting, but I was not at all dissatisfied.
I must say though, I was a little disappointed to not see more gyoza on the menu as per its namesake. You will find the traditional fillings of pork (£6.80), vegetable (£6.20) and chicken (£6.50), but they also offer a salmon (£7.50) and an interesting ebi dangojiro (£7.00), all cooked perfectly and delicious to eat, but there was nothing outlandishly exciting about any of it (I tried all of them for £9.50 in one mega plate – Gyoza Moriawase). For example, the Nikkei Gyoza (£9.95) at Chotto Matte are filled with pork, prawn and cassava, then lain on a heavenly bed of aji amarillo and sweet potato puree, which shows off their fusion concept with immense precision (the very best of Peruvian flavour versus Japanese classicism). Classic is amazing, but innovation in a city full of innovators makes the competition immensely stiff eh…
Oh and before I forget the mystery of the double door! I went to the toilet at the end of a very pleasant dining experience, but when I opened the door, it was like walking through the wardrobe into Narnia! OK, perhaps not quite so theatrical, but there was no toilet, rather the restaurant next door in all its glory. I walked from a casual and warm bijou gyoza bar, into a buzzy and chic sushi restaurant, a minimalist design throughout marrying the two halves. I almost loath myself for ruining the surprise for you!
|St Martins Lane entrance|
|Inside Gyoza Bar, with view of toilet door to Narnia!|
|My perfect little alcove!|
|Open kitchen in Murakami (adjoining Gyoza Bar)|
|The damage for 2 people!|
|Toilets accessible through Murakami, downstairs!|
|Inside Murakami Sushi & Sake - adjoining Gyoza Bar|
|Inside Murakami Sushi & Sake bar - adjoining Gyoza Bar|