Eatchu, making handmade Japanese gyoza in St. Nicholas’ market in Bristol, is a wondrous place. Hand on heart, I have never been so pleased to see what was once a pop up take up permanent residence in the Old Mess Room. The seating inside is cramped but on a blustery day, it’s a good thing to be so close to the cooking action. After traipsing round for Bristol’s Open Doors Day a couple of rounds of gyoza were needed. Gyoza are Japanese dumplings, thin pieces of dough encasing deliciously hot (and often spicy) fillings crimped and steamed or fried. The staff manning both the cooking section and till are incredibly welcoming with beaming smiles. Look up when you go in, the origami birds are well worth a look.
We opted for two different flavours and combinations of gyoza. The menu works by choosing a gyoza filling and then toppings which are added to the dish after cooking. We plumped for the Buta, pork with garlic and chives topped with Tonkatsu, a Japanese BBQ sauce and sea salt, and Tori. Tori is a chicken and nori butter gyoza with a gingery after taste. This was accompanied with a miso mustard mayonnaise. Deliciously tangy but the heat from the mustard element left me walking out with a runny nose- which on a cold day as it was, was a good thing. Upon biting through the crisped dough boiling juices are sent every which way exciting the palette. I tend to bite just a nibble off before dunking in a pot of soy sauce to ensure an even coating of the filling inside. The soy works to enhance the already powerful flavours present in the gyoza and I was left wondering the Buta will be able to match.
Match, if not exceed it did. The pork was well seasoned and only the word umami can describe the meatiness. The fresh garlic and chives followed close behind bringing a freshness to the dish. These gyoza were well accompanied by the Tonkatsu which mellowed the sharpness of the herbs and was sweet and sticky providing a great opposition to the miso mustard, especially when I alternated what dish I stuck my chopsticks into each time. All the gyoza was priced at a very reasonable £5.50 for 6 which will do well for a light(er) lunch but can be turned into a greater meal with a wide array of side dishes. Be sure to pay Eatchu a visit on forays into St. Nicholas’ Market, a lunch well worth any wait.