This weekend I went with some friends to Kameido (äº€æˆ¸) Station, which is in an area of Tokyo known as Shitamachi. Shitamachi is kind of the old Edo-era Tokyo with its sumo arenas, old temples, and shady entertainment districts. Kameido is a mini-Chinatown, and it’s famous forâ€¦ yup, Chinese food.
We went to a restaurant to eat the legendary Kameido gyoza (é¤ƒå â€“ Chinese-style dumplings). The place was a tiny closet (what do you expect) on a twisty, centuries-old road run entirely by crazy old Chinese ladies. There was one guy in the place and it was his job to fry plate after plate of gyoza. Meanwhile, the ladies walked around glaring at people, shouting at each other, and bringing plates of hot, crispy dumplings.
We sat down and waited for the menu but it never came. There were no food items listed on the walls either. Just when we were about to ask somebody what was up, one of the waitresses came up to the table with four plates of just-fried gyoza â€“ one for each of us.
Apparently, they just bring the gyoza. There’s no rice or anything else (although they have a full drink menu). This place was for gyoza and gyoza alone, and you WILL eat some.
Of course, it was delicious. The dumplings weren’t particularly big like some places (Chinlai, etc.), but they were packed with filling. This filling was thick, juicy and full of flavor. There were bits of veggies like moyashi (ã‚‚ã‚„ã— â€“ bean sprouts) mixed in with the meat. Even without the rice, two plates of these fatties and you were on your way to full.
My friend said, ‘Umai!’ (æ—¨ã„ â€“ yummy) and one of the old ladies leaned in and said, ‘HUH?’ My friend meekly repeated herself and the lady grunted and nodded in approval and then walked on. ThereÂ were waitresses positioned at the end of each aisle, standing there like sentries keeping watch over the place.
As we were finishing up our plates, a second plate came. You don’t even need to order! They just bring it. When they brought the second plate, I still had one dumpling left on my first plate. The waitress picked up my plate right when I was about to go for it and unceremoniously dumped the remaining gyoza onto the second plate with the others. It was refreshing to see such crude customer service here in Japan.
After a few more plates and some discussion, we decided we’d better be proactive about stopping the gyoza from coming. One of my friends made a sign to the nearest gyoza sentry and she grunted in response.
Finally, when we went up to pay, an altercation of some sort broke out between one of the ladies and the gyoza fryer. They bickered loudly in Chinese and the entire restaurant stopped eating to watch them nervously.
Speaking of our bill, it was 500 yen for 2 plates, and it got cheaper per plate for each one you added. Awesome gyoza at an awesome price, and an atmosphere that freaks you out a little!