There has been a steady stream of foreign restaurants opening in Metro Manila for the past few years. Restaurateurs have been bringing well-established restaurants from other shores to ours. I’ve noticed that a lot of these establishments come from Osaka, Japan. It comes as no surprise really because Osaka is a famous foodie paradise, its citizens are obsessed with food. There’s a Japanese word that’s often used to describe the Osaka people’s love for food: Kuidaore. It means "to eat oneself bankrupt". Eating is regarded as a veritable past time which is why it’s no wonder that there are a lot of good places to eat in Osaka. Our latest import from that gourmand Japanese city is none other than Osaka Ohsho.
Mr. Shinzo Fumino founded Osaka Ohsho in September of 1969. His handmade gyoza was such a huge hit that he decided to focus and specialize in the handmade dumplings. After 45 years, Osaka Ohsho now has 370 branches worldwide. Their first branch in the Philippines opened in February of this year and is located in the new wing of SM Megamall.
They take their gyoza seriously in Osaka Ohsho. I was fortunate enough to talk to Naoki Fumino, CEO of Eat&Co., the company that runs the Osaka Ohsho restaurants. I was also given the opportunity to talk to one of Osaka Ohsho’s resident gyoza experts, Hidenori Takeyasu. Both gentlemen flew to our country to make sure that the gyoza in their Philippine branch is up to par. And so far, they are happy with the results. After hanging out with them for a little while, I feel like a bit of a gyoza connoisseur myself.
Let me share with you some of the things that I learned. The perfect Japanese gyoza has different textures: soft on the bottom, crispy and crusty on top, soft and moist on the inside. Skin thickness is an important factor, a good gyoza should not be transparent. You don’t have to be an expert to know this next bit: gyoza is best eaten hot, right off the grill, preferably when there’s still some smoke coming from the inside.
Osaka Ohsho gyoza comes in three flavors: original (P175/6pcs, P350/dozen), nori (P190/6pcs, P380/dozen), and cheese (P190/6pcs, P380/dozen). They have special learning facilities in Japan where their chefs undergo extensive training to make sure that they serve nothing but the best gyoza. It goes without saying that, after years of perfecting the craft, their gyoza is delicious. I was pleasantly surprised by the nori and cheese variants because it was the first time that I encountered flavored gyoza. The nori gyoza, along with the pork filling, has bits of nori on the inside. The distinct flavor of dried seaweed make for a more flavorful gyoza. The cheese gyoza is filled with pork and two kinds of cheese, cheddar and parmesan. Understandably, it’s saltier than your average gyoza, but not overly so. The creaminess of the cheese adds a nice texture to the dumpling. Three sauces are available for your dipping pleasure: Osaka Ohsho Original, Miso, and Chili Oil. You can use them individually or mix and match according to your preference.
Osaka Ohsho offers other noteworthy items on their menu such as their Black Vinegar Chicken (P325) and another Osaka favorite, the Fuwatoro Tenshin Han (P310). The Black Vinegar Chicken, it seems to me, is like a Japanese take on sweet and sour chicken. Chicken karaage is stir fried with black vinegar, capsicum, onions, pineapples, bell peppers and lotus roots. The chicken pieces retain their crunchiness and juiciness. The taste of black vinegar is strong but not overpowering. It’s a pleasant dish overall. The Fuwatoro Tenshin Han is a very fluffy omelette wrapped around rice and drenched in a dark brown gravy.
Osaka Ohsho offers set meals that start at P270. All sets include 3 pieces of gyoza, miso soup, a small fruit plate, and an unlimited serving of Koshihikari rice.
Restaurants that specialize in Japanese eats such as ramen and tonkatsu are now commonplace in Metro Manila. Osaka Ohsho is the first restaurant that focuses on gyoza. The dumpling comes from China but Japan has managed to make it its own. Osaka Ohsho wants to spread the word that gyoza is Japanese comfort food. This isn’t hard to believe because Japanese customers frequent the place and have expressed delight that their beloved local establishment, the purveyor of the world’s No.1 gyoza, is now here.
Like Osaka Ohsho on Facebook (OsakaOhshoPH) or follow them on Instagram (@OsakaOhshoPH).
Photos by Albert Peradilla. Additional photos courtesy of Osaka Ohsho.