Located at the basement of Robinsons Orchard (formerly Heeren), Gyoza Ya is among the best restaurants I’ve eaten this year at this price point. And Singaporeans know it–the business is brisk and if you come after 7pm, there is a queue. I’m calling it: Gyoza Ya is going to be big.
Ingredients are imported from Japan three times weekly, such as gyoza skin made with spring water in Japan. Using latest Japanese technology, each gyoza is made fresh within seconds upon ordering, not from frozen gyoza. They have a consistent weight and size and are put through a griller that emits an even, constant heat. This precision accounts for the consistency of gyoza.
And the pan-fried pork dumplings (5pc $4.80) are fantastic. When you bite into it, you will first feel the crisp of the skin, not oily at all, and taste the sweetness of dough. At this point, there are layers of sweetness, from the dough and the juicy pork. Eventually, you’ll be left with a dream, an aftertaste of evaporating sweet dough at the tip of the tongue. You may also try the vegetable dumplings (5pc $4.80), not as complex, but still tasty. The boiled pork dumplings (5pc $4.80, pictured above), however, come across as flat and over salted with miso sauce.
Besides pan-fried dumplings, another must order is jyajya men ($6.50), historically derived from the Chinese zha jiang mian. Like the dumplings, jyajya men is cooked with Japanese machine with water at a steady temperature for a specific time for “al dente.” The flat and broad buckwheat noodle is then topped with minced pork, sliced cucumbers and leeks, and a black sesame and miso sauce. The dish is elegant and clean.
Leave a strand of noodle, and ask the server to break an egg and pour chintan over it. Chintan has no English equivalent. It is not a broth, nor a stock; it is water that has been used to boil the buckwheat noodles from the jyajya men. Since chintan is served lukewarm, Japanese often pick up the bowl and slurp the soup in a gulp. Very shiok!
If you’re not in the mood for noodles, try the Japanese garlic fried rice ($5.80) that has wok hei. The Japanese short grain rice is dehydrated first before frying, if not, it will be too sticky. Each grain is evenly coated with bits of garlic, but that day, it was a tad salty.
We also tried the sides, karaage (deep fried chicken $3.80), tofu with minced beef and fish ($4.80, above), Japanese beef stew ($4.80), and grilled eggplant ($4.80). All were satisfactory except for the tough beef stew.
Don’t leave without getting the Hokkaido imported ice cream ($6). It has an unfamiliar texture, smooth and gooey, but still very pleasing. The black sesame is complex with evolving tastes; the peach, which uses real fruit, has a sweet scent but magically doesn’t taste overly sweet; yuzu is refreshing.
One thing I like is the portions. They come in palm-sized bowls, so a person can enjoy the food by herself. Overall, this restaurant is value-for-money. The gyoza is the best food under $5 at Orchard. Each person will spend about $15-$20 for such excellent quality food. When my friend and I left Gyoza Ya, we immediately craved for the gyoza and jyajya men, and made plans to return. The next time, I won’t share; an entire portion for myself, maybe two. Highly recommended.
260 Orchard Road, B1-02A Robinsons Orchard, Singapore 238855
T: 6737 5581
Rating: 3.833/5 stars
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.