New gyoza bar in town with the unoriginal name of “Gyoza Bar”. Normally I would have a snarky comment about the lack of imagination but in this instance, I will keep my mouth zipped (or rather my fingers in check). Because this gyoza bar named Gyoza Bar Barcelona has a Chinese owner, the same owner as Kai Xuan across the street. (Kai Xuan being a favorite haunt of mine to partake of the lunch buffet with highlights such as fish heads or pork tail.) This is not a Spanish interpretation of how a dumpling bar would be with a PR company to commuicate on its behalf.
It’s a proper Chinese joint. One that despite being relatively new, still seems a bit frayed in places. There are corners of agreeable restaurant design: the brushed aluminum panel with bamboo steamers stacked in front of it. Then there are the other bits, like the shelves of sparsely spaced tetra packs of stock – why exactly would boxed up stock be something to advertise? Especially in this neighborhood of animal carcasses being ferried back and forth to the plentiful Chinese supermarkets.
As the name so states, this is a place specializing in gyoza. A misleading positioning for a Chinese restaurant because gyoza is the name given to the Japanese version of Jiaozi. Jiaozi is the original incarnation of this dumpling with “Jia” having the dual meaning of family and home in Chinese. Japanese gyoza have a stronger garlic flavor and the dough is rolled thinner (usually by machine), Jiaozi has a thicker dough as a result of usually being rolled out by hand.
It’s these rustic empanadas chinesas as the locals would call them, that are being ordered around us. 10 per order, on a rectangular plate. You are left to create your own dipping sauce. I go big on the chili pepper paste and find myself flushed, wheezing and voiceless for a time. A smirk from the tall, well-coiffed Chinese young man who is our server. The thick doughy parcels lend themselves more to being pan-fried than steamed I think. We order the shrimp jiaozi and the pork ones, I prefer the shrimp, finding the pork ones unpalatable and fatty to the point of grittiness.
Both of us fancy something else but pickings are slim – the Chinese mushroom salad is out. We go for the cucumber with sesame, a visually unappetizing dish, with distressed uneven chunks of cucumber in a pool of gritty beige sauce – that looks like…I can’t even bring myself to say. Proving that one shouldn’t go on looks alone, it’s refreshing and nutty and I scarf it up surreptitiously while my lunch date uploads posts to Stories.
Despite huge portions, I feel I am ready for the main course somewhere else (across the street maybe?) but we can’t reconcile that with having just eaten in a restaurant so instead we walk down to Tasmango (a Singaporean dessert place) and share a squishy, squeaky bowl of coconut, mango and other unidentified but delicious ingredients.
And why it called Gyoza Bar Barcelona and not Jiaozi Bar? Probably simple shorthand: everyone knows what the former is and few (locals) are familiar with the latter.