Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Gyoza, Brixton

We came to Brixton on a warm Monday evening at around 8pm and Gyoza was pretty much the only place we could find that was open. Weird, no? It's a small Japanese and Chinese place on Coldharbour Lane that would be quite easy to walk past. In fact, we did, and then came back. It was pretty quiet, and felt a LITTLE like we were crashing two other couple's dates when we got in. Sorry guys, hope you all got lucky.
It's pleasantly small though. They have Chinese lanterns hanging from the ceiling and a tiny bar at the back. Sushi mats sit on the tables and the chairs are heavy and ornate, making the whole place feel cosy and a little retro. They were playing all the classics, bit of Sugababes, bit of Norah Jones. Very romantic. Gyoza used to do sushi as well - it's even advertised on the menu outside - but it's been taken off the menu, so we were left with a choice between Japanese bento style dishes, Japanese noodles and the typical Chinese takeaway shabang - chicken, pork and seafood with more noodles and rice. 
We had to order some gyoza, it is the name of the place afterall, their 'special mixed' one sounded the most exciting and was £5.90. We got 6 pieces, 2 chicken, 2 pork and 2 prawn as listed, though they were pretty indistinguishable from eachother. Went down very well with a bottle of Sunlik though, which wasn't bad at £3.30.
The Chinese stuff on the menu didn't really set my heart aflutter, although they did have something called "Chicken in O.K. sauce", which was described as 'sweet sauce cooked with onion using vegetable stock', and it sounded... well you know. The noodles came with nori on top and a little pickled ginger, but other than that were pretty standard. The portion was pretty huge, as was the bento box ordered.
The bento was £9.20 and came with teriyaki chicken and rice, miso soup and a small salad. Sadly there were no tsukemono (those bits of pickled vegetables you often get in a bento), and the miso soup was particularly bland. The chicken, though, was very good - a rich teriyaki marinade, and the chicken had nice charred patches of black and brown where the sugars had caramelised. The sauce was thick but still managed to seep into the rice a little - perfect. There was also a layer of french beans underneath the chicken which was a nice touch and added a good bit of crunch and colour. 
There's something endearing about Gyoza - they clearly used to be very popular with locals, it was even winning awards in 2010 - but it's finding it harder and harder to compete with the market. Maybe the management has changed, by the sounds of it the food used to be much better, but it still has a lot of charm and food is patchy but reasonable. Even the website couldnt help but win me over:
If you're in the area on a day when everything is more lively I'd give it a miss - especially with the foodie heaven that is Brixton Village about 5 seconds away (and is probably cheaper) - but late on a weeknight when you just want some comfort food and a warm shelter from the elements, you might as well. 
426 Coldharbour Lane
Tel. 0207 274 1492
Open Mon-Sun, 12:00 - 23:00

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