Gyoza Bar offers a new take on traditional Japanese

The exposed brick wall of a heritage building makes an unlikely interior for a Japanese restaurant, but Gyoza Bar carefully captures that balance between homeliness and urban fare.

Located within walking distance of SFU’s Vancouver campuses, Gyoza Bar offers fusion menus specializing in teppan gyoza (Japanese fried dumplings), ramen, and the newly released Bao Boards. Many of their namesake gyoza, such as the chili shrimp and soy-marinated ikura, are creatively and uniquely interpreted, while others, such as the regular pork teppan, keep an eye on tradition.

True to Japanese cooking, the gyoza are served on cast-iron skillets called teppanyaki, which keep the gyoza steaming hot and crispy. In a North American spin, however, their signature ramen features a tomato-saffron broth and other Western-inspired combinations.

Sake, along with wine and beer, are readily available. Instead of the round noodles you might be used to that come in dried bundles, Gyoza Bar’s fresh ramen is made in the classic tradition: slightly square-shaped and “al dente” in texture.

The restaurant’s philosophy is bringing people together with good food in an open, inviting environment. Located close to campus with late evening hours, Gyoza welcomes patrons to stay for the menu change. If you’re planning to stay a while, I suggest grabbing a Bao Board complete with “bao” buns, veggies, and five intensely flavourful protein or vegetarian options including soy-marinated and maple-garlic chicken.

Keeping things simple but interesting requires creativity and, in Vancouver, sustainability. Many of Gyoza Bar’s ingredients are made in-house, such as the flavoured oils used in their ramen, and all the protein is sourced within Canada — even the chicken foie gras comes from the East Coast. Of course, having access to the suppliers of Aburi Restaurant Group’s more upscale Miku Waterfront and Minami gives Gyoza Bar a leg up in stocking the freshest seafood and ingredients.

In addition to preparing fresh, local ingredients, the restaurant’s commitment to sustainability extends to the industrial interior design, which repurposes a lot of pine panelling and pine furniture that have unique markings due to pine beetle damage. Paired with designer cast-iron lighting, the honey-coloured interior really sets the mood for casual dining.

In the spirit of keeping things local and accessible, the interior was designed by a small company that focuses on sustainable projects like that of the reclaimed pine wood. The ramen bowls used are individually crafted by a local Japanese potter, and each one is unique.

So when you are sitting down to a sizzling plate of gyoza or mouth-watering ramen, you can feel good about what you’re eating and the bench you sit on. Be careful — it’s hot.