Gyoza Bar has opened on St Martin’s Lane, Covent Garden, serving gyoza, bao buns, ramen and a few other small plates. I and 2 friends ate there during soft launch and there were the obvious teething problems associated with a new restaurant such as too many staff most of which looked confused, slow service (despite all the staff), and also slow turn around on food orders. But these things can always be forgiven when you get a 50% discount, and they were all very friendly.
The restaurant is small, and they currently have a no booking policy. We got there at 12.20 and already most of the tables were taken. By the time we left around 2pm, there was a queue. It has an almost warehouse feel to it, wooden tables with chairs and stools. It’s intimate, and should mean that you get great service – once they they all work out what they are doing. We didn’t order any drinks and stuck to the tap water provided, the drinks list is good including some sake, Japanese beers and whiskeys and lots of other wines, spirits and soft drinks including a tea selection.
The food menu is small, but I like that. I don’t have to scroll through a big long list and get confused about what I want. They do 4 different gyoza – veg, salmon, chicken and pork and you get 5 gyoza on a plate which you can have steamed, pan fried or deep fried. We tried the veg, chicken and pork ones. The veg ones are just steamed with a delicious avocado and yuzu salsa on top, the whole dish was delicious. The chicken and pork gyoza were pan fried and came with garlic vinegar, umami soy dipping sauces. The pork was the clear winner, very well flavoured and really delicious. The chicken was less well seasoned and needed the dipping sauce and the chilli seasoning which was on the table, but still enjoyable. The chicken ones also seems denser in texture than the pork, and were not pan fried for as long as the pork which had a lovely dark crust on them. That said, they were better than most other places that offer gyoza so I don’t think you will be disappointed.
We all also went for a bao bun and ordered one each of chicken katsu, char sui and tempura prawn. The bao came with tonkatsu sauce and sweet potato chips. The buns were delicious, I had the char sui pork, it was bursting with flavour, but sadly there wasn’t a lot meat in in there, I do hope they increase the amount they put in going forward. The bun is as you would expect like eating a cloud and the whole thing disappeared in less than a minute. The chicken katsu and tempura prawn buns were also very well prepared and flavoured, both having a good quantity of filling to the size of the bun (I drew the short straw on the quantity of filling). The tonkatsu sauce was a clear winner for us all, really delicious and unusual flavour which I cannot for the life of me describe, it is a vibrant orange colour and with the fries cuts through the sweetness of the sweet potato perfectly. Our bill came to £36.60 for 6 dishes which we all shared before the discount.
To summarise, I would definitely come here again, I would like to see how do once they are up to speed. They food is certainly great with room to improve further I think and take them head and shoulders above the vast majority of cheap eats in Covent Garden.