Saturday, July 1, 2017

Review of the National Gyoza Festival in Sendai

Address:  Kokusai Center Subway Station.   
Map:  Check on their website.
Sunday, July 2nd from 10 am to 4 pm.
For more info, please read my initial posting of this event HERE.
When I realized in the late afternoon that it would not rain today, I decided to venture on out and fight the crowds at the famed Gyoza Matsuri.  I was concerned that with today’s heat and humidity that waiting in line with a bunch of strangers for a small sampling of food might not make for an enjoyable afternoon.
But to my surprise upon arrival at around 3 pm, I discovered that the event was NOT crowded at all!  In fact, all but two of the gyoza stalls had lines.  There were lots of people there, but no lines.

This was the size of the crowd

For my first sampling, I chose the Utsunomiya Gyoza, which did have a line.  Of course it had a line; Utsnomiya and gyoza go hand-in-hand.  I had to wait a WHOLE five-stomach growling-minutes.  I was unable to find a seat under a tent so I went to one of the many standing tables available.  
This was good gyoza!  Crispy on the outside with a flavorful filling.  And at five dumplings for 300 yen, I recommend this one! 

There were 5.  I was starving and ate 1 before I took the photo.  Oops.

Next, I moseyed on over to the other stall that had a loooooooong line (I waited three-minutes tops) for a jumbo Tsu Gyoza from Mie Prefecture.  This was one puffy pot sticker reportedly registering 15 cm in length.  (This time I was able to find a seat under a tent, but it was so hot it didn’t feel like the shade helped that much.)  The wrapping was thick and a bit crispy, stuffed with all the flavors that you’d expect.  This was good, but I liked the Utsunomiya Gyoza better.

One chubby gyoza

For what I thought was my final taste testing, I decided to try the Fukushima Gyoza, as that booth had accumulated a short line.  Apparently, Fukushima Gyoza is popular due to its emphasis on vegetable fillings, and for the fact that 700 of these gyoza can be cooked at the same time.  This gyoza was very good!  I recommend this one, too!  Very similar to the Utsunomiya Gyoza.  

Fukushima Gyoza

How many gyoza do you see?

While waiting in line, I ran into my friend, Fumika, who graciously invited me to join her and her friend.  They had purchased the Hachiman Gyoza from Fukuoka Prefecture, which uses yuzu pepper as a condiment, and offered me a dumpling.
We all first tried the gyoza without the yuzu pepper.  It was good, as I detected a slight sweetness to it.  Then we all tried the yuzu pepper by itself.  The yuza flavoring was sour, the pepper strong.  I guess that was to be expected.

Hachiman Gyoza

I suspect that since it’s supposed to be sunny tomorrow, that’s when the crowds will flock to this event, so I’m glad I battled the heat today.   

Also, if the tents are crowded, you might want to try the Kokusai Center Station viewing platform.  There are tables, chairs, steps, and most importantly, shade!  
If you try some of the other gyoza, please let me know what you thought of it.
Have fun if you go!

From the Kokusai Center Station Viewing Platform

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