Recently the old side street off Omotesando in which Harajuku Gyōza Rō resides (next to Kaffir Lime) has become much changed. Back in the day my dining partners from the old country and I wasted inordinate amounts of time in the bars and tabehōdai shabu-shabu joints that once lined the opposite side of the street. Alas, they are no more. Replaced with “enterprise spaces” of glass and steel – still vacant – for some time now.
After a hiatus of several years, a recent visit to Gyōza Rō, was somewhat disappointing.
My dining partner and I queued for twenty minutes or so, as is customary. Once seated we become duly excited, took in the bold, brash menu, downed a couple of beers and enjoyed watching the bustle and steam in the open kitchen around which we were seated.
By the time our lunch arrived – sui and fried gyōza stuffed with Chinese chives and garlic, rice (poor) and soup (uninspired) – our expectations had been raised to such levels that, truth be told, the ensuing disappointment (the dumplings being neither bold nor brash) should have been expected.
The draft beer was as usual, but these days anything over ¥400 seems like robbery. The food was cheap, “no frills” and tasty, but if memory serves (which it most likely does not) has suffered a serious decline in terms of volume over the years. The dumplings' filling was less robust and meaty than I remember.
It's still worth a visit, and a place to show visitors. Ultimately, however, the gyōza here are not a patch on those prepared at Ueno’s Shoryū 2, and to one for years spoiled with homemade dumplings, barely worth reporting.