Harajuku Gyoza – A long time coming

Michael is a huge fan of dumplings – so am I.

We’ve also passed by Harajuku Gyoza many many times – each time itching to go in but holding off. We finally went on April 04 during Meaghan’s visit.

Super friendly service with shouts of ‘Irasshaimase!’ (welcome) as soon as you walk in the door. Great decor as well, I really liked the plates and the lights.

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The menu is simple but offered a variety of dumplings averaging $8 for 5 pieces.

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We ended up ordering edamame (boiled young soybeans), chicken karaage (marinated and lightly battered fried chicken) and 5 gyoza (dumpling) dishes, all grilled with pork, duck, chicken, vegetable, and Moreton Bay bug filling.

Food verdict? VERY AVERAGE, nothing special.

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Edamame was great, although it’s hard to get that wrong.

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The chicken karaage had too much batter and skin for my tastes – I’ve had much better.

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The dumplings were not very flavourful. If I didn’t know what we had ordered, it would’ve been hard to tell the difference between the pork, duck and chicken gyozas. The vegetable dumpling had interesting (edamame in the filling) texture, although not great flavour. This was also my first time tasting Moreton Bay bugs – it was tasty but I wouldn’t be able to say if it was cooked well or not 🙂 I also wish the gyoza wrappers were more chewy and crispy.

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Even though the food was a little lacking, it was clear everyone (including us) were enjoying themselves. The restaurant was soon filled to capacity and buzzing with conversation. Every time a sake shot was served (from a huge bottle), the staff would yell out leaving customers laughing and a little self conscious 😛

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For dessert, we shared an apple gyoza with icecream and a peanut butter & white chocolate gyoza with icecream. Each came with 3 pieces of deep fried dumplings and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Delicious. You simply cannot go wrong with those flavour combinations… deep fried. I was so excited to eat it, I forgot to take pictures 😦

A really enjoyable evening but we probably won’t come back unless it’s with a large group of friends for the atmosphere. We will try out other gyoza restaurants before coming back to Harajuku solely for the dumplings.

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Harajuku Gyoza on Urbanspoon

Part 2: A Delightful Wednesday

October 24, 2012

Mike and I love food and wish we could go out all the time. Unfortunately, we are both poor students so can’t afford it! However, we do try to take advantage of as many great voucher deals as possible!

And tonight was such a deal: $69 for a 6 course degustation meal and a glass of bubbly for two at L’Academie! We had a good time there last year and thought it would be worth going a second time!

The week before we emailed in a reservation but never received a response. A little unexpected, but nothing a quick phone call couldn’t solve and we were booked for 7pm.

Always a nice change to get dressed up for a night out! 🙂

Upon arrival, we were shown to our table and our degustation meal was explained to us. Unfortunately, the server did not speak very good English and also did not know the menu very well. We missed half the things she was saying and couldn’t really ask her any questions regarding the food (Ie. she didn’t know what a palate cleanser was). Throughout the meal, we had 3 servers, which I find out and just adds to potential confusion.

The bread had been put out at our table ahead of time, but we also noticed the bread in the kitchen was just sitting in a basket, also exposed to air. Dry, crusty bread isn’t very nice! And the same problem we had the last time.

I remember the first time I was at a banquet and had more than one set of cutlery – gosh I was so confused, haha! Certainly know better now 😉

Hey dear!

We had a view of the kitchen from our seats

First course: Oyster 2 ways: Bloody Mary and au Gratin

I’m not a fan of oysters, especially raw oysters – but I figured I must try! Michael thought they were quite delicious but I simply couldn’t get past the aftertaste of raw oysters. The other components of the dish were good though! What I disliked: the undressed, out of place julienned carrot and onion. I also wish the chef had separated the oyster from the shell. Would make things a lot easier and look more appealing if patrons could just go straight to slurping the oyster!

Second course: Fried tofu with some Asian styled sauce with a side of salad.

Tofu was way overfried. Crisp but completely dry. Not enough sauce also made the dish quite tasteless, and I normally love tofu. And again, with an undressed and haphazard salad, this was our least favourite dish of the night.

By this time, they had not given us our glasses of bubbly so we had to request them. Unfortunately, it was a different server and he too, did not speak English well and couldn’t understand our request. It was fine though, as he asked the lady who initially seated us and she promptly brought them out. Seems like they just forgot, so no problem! In case you were wondering, it was 2 glasses of Charles Vienot Brut Cuvee.

Third course: Strawberry & citrus sorbet (We think! Couldn’t figure out if it was citrus or just lemon)

Nice but a little too sweet for a palate cleanser! I found the portion a little large as well.

Fourth course: Chicken skewer on a bed of greens

Chicken was amazing. Crisp on the outside, tender and perfectly cooked on the inside, I wish there were 2 skewers! The salad was a little weird for me, again. Raw zucchini skins are definitely not the tastiest things you can put in salad

Fifth course: Thyme and garlic pork fillet on Paris mash, saffron carrot & Blaukraut (got the full name off the menu on the counter beside us)

A very hearty dish, we were definitely getting full now! Pork was perfectly cooked and made me wish there was more than 3 slices and less mashed potatoes! The sauce was so overpowering (tasted mostly of Worcestershire sauce actually) that it made the Blaukraut (German braised red cabbage in red wine) seem like a really odd and weak-flavoured addition to the dish. Nevertheless, still quite tasty.

Sixth and last course: Choc Hazelnut Gateau

Yummy! The other time we had dessert here, it was a crude and dry brownie. This cake (even though it was precut and refrigerated) was moist, decadent, full of hazelnut crunch and the serving size was enormous! I would’ve been more than happy with a piece half that size, but who was complaining!

With our bellies bursting with happiness, we said thank you and headed home 😀

Overall, we had a good experience. Staff were friendly but really need to work on learning their menu items and ingredients. Some dishes were quite tasty but we hated the undressed filler salads that came with many plates. Dessert was super generous and delicious which ended the night on a high note. We understand L’Academie is a training restaurant, and with such mixed reviews on Urbanspoon, we definitely did not walk in with any expectations.

Will we come back?

For a good price we would. But I think we’re more interested in trying out a new place next time.

L'Acadamie on Urbanspoon

Overdue food update

Haha, haven’t seen food on here in a while!

Bunch of dishes from past months 😀 There will be a few repeats from my Photo a Day project and a couple of dishes made by my mom while my family was here visiting!

The first dish I made since exams this past Saturday – yum! Pan fried dumplings with homemade kimchi

Gnocchi, garlic bread and eggplant tempura

Toast, curried eggs and garlic yoghurt brocoli salad

Easy dinner – pasta!

Crispy pita with sauteed spinach with garlic and melted cheese

Fajita night

‘Banh hoi’ with roasted duck, roasted pork and veggies – always such a treat!

‘Banh cuon’ filled with thit nuong (BBQ ground pork) – one of my favourites, thanks mom!

Toasted baguette with lightly sauteed spinach and veggies

Butternut squash soup

Rice with spinach and mushroom stuffed peppers

Rice with beef curry, thit kho and stir fried snow peas

Hors d’oeuvres with buttersquash, curry, and spinach stuffings – so easy to make and fun to eat!

‘Bun xao’ – thanks mom!

‘Bun rieu’ – thanks mom!

Apple and cheese puff bites

Now that my oven is fixed, I’ve also been trying to learn how to bake (from scratch) and creating my own recipes. Can do better, but still many successes – yay!

Lime cupcakes with lime icing

Red velvet creamcheese brownies

Carrot muesli cookies – healthy and delicious!

Carrot and banana cupcakes – perfected my own recipes, yay!

Chocolate lime cupcakes

Attempting a taste from home!

Whenever the weather is good enough to bring out the barbecue, my mom will most definitely end up making a delicious meat dish – Vietnamese roasted pork.

I don’t have a BBQ where I live, but still tried to recreate that taste from home. Result? Success! Not nearly as good as my mom’s though, but that’s okay, because soon I will be home to eat her cooking!

And unrelated: another pasta dish 🙂