The Curious Incident of the Errant Gyoza Order

So, a friend who I’ve known for ages on the interbutts was in Tokyo on Thursday (though he’s Australian) and had some time to kill, so he popped up here to Tochigi for dinner, which was nice. No one ever comes to visit me.

I asked around, and my colleagues decided that it would be a shame if he came to Tochigi and didn’t have gyoza, so they suggested I take him to MinMin, here in Takanezawa, for gyoza.  And you know what? That’s just what I did.

Garbo at MinMin
Garbo at MinMin

There’s a reason I don’t often eat out, though: I never know how to order.  Take me to a bar, I know how to order; take me to an izakaya, I know how to order; take me to a family restaurant, or a fast food place, I know how to order. Take me to a specialty shop, like MinMin, which only does gyoza? I don’t know how to order, because there’s always some sort of secret system that everyone just sort of knows.  I rely on the staff to set me right when I order incorrectly at these places.

But when the staff doesn’t set me right, it sets the stage for possible disaster.

My friend and I sat down, and decided we wanted to try all three types of gyoza available.  We thought, hmm, we can eat about 15 gyoza each, and there’s three types of gyoza, so let’s order ten of each gyoza.  I told the guy, very specifically, “We want ten individual gyoza.”  Now, I’ve been to gyoza restaurants that let you order individual gyoza, with a minimum order, and I’ve been to gyoza restaurants where you have to get “orders” of x gyoza each.  I wasn’t sure what type this place was, so I figured I’d start that way, and the man would correct me.  “Ah,” I thought he might say, “you must order in lots of six. So, how does two orders of six sound? Okay?”

He didn’t, though.  I said we wanted 10 (individual) pan fried gyoza, 10 (individual) deep fried gyoza and 10 (individual) boiled gyoza.  “Is that all?” “Yes,” I said, and he toddled off.  I spoke with my friend for a few minutes, and then got a terrible knot in my gut.  There was something not right.

I called the waiter over. “Now, you realize we wanted 10 INDIVIDUAL gyoza, yes?” and specially emphasized it. “What? No, here, gyoza come in orders of six, so you’ve ordered 60 individual gyoza of each type.”

Now, my friend and are, probably, GIANTS, LANDWHALES, etc., to this waiter, but still, you expect us each to down 90 gyoza? Fuck off! “No nono, you’ve made a horrible mistake, you daft twit! Run! Correct it! We only want one order of each, each.”

“Oh… OH! OH!” and the waiter ran off.  We didn’t end up paying for 180 gyoza, and so I assume that he’d caught it in enough time. Still, I imagine that some people who came in after us got gyoza that had been prepared for us and kept warm, instead of their own super-fresh gyoza. Ah well.

I think, had I gone in alone, and made this ordering mistake, the waiter would have corrected me. However, I had arrived with an Asian-looking fellow.  I did the ordering, and the waiter may have assumed that, had I misspoken, the Asian-looking fellow (who the waiter would have assumed to be Japanese) would have jumped in to correct me; when he didn’t, he must have thought, “… well, they are portly fellows. I guess 180 gyoza isn’t that strange!”

So yeah, it was partly my fault for not knowing my way around this particular gyoza shop, and partly the waiter’s fault for making silly assumptions. In the end, probably no harm was done, but I’ll probably get the stinkeye if I go back.

Pan-fried Gyoza
Pan-fried Gyoza

Anyway, our food finally came.  First, there was the ‘normal’ panfried gyoza.  They were well cooked, well crispy on the pan side, steamed to perfection on the other side. The filling wasn’t anything special or amazing — it was just good gyoza filling, exactly what you’d expect.  They were juicy, but not juicy to the point of needing to wear a bib.

deep fried gyoza
deep fried gyoza

Next came the deep-fried gyoza.  I had expected them to be super crispy and greasy, but they used some sort of different dough for the deep fried gyoza, and they were crunchy but not crispy, and completely ungreasy.  The dough actually reminded me of something else I’ve have, but I couldn’t think of what for the life of me. They were great, though.

Boiled Gyoza
Boiled Gyoza

Finally were the boiled gyoza.  I’m sure that some people like boiled gyoza, and I do, you know, in nabe, or soup or whatever. But on their own? Nah, they’re not my thing, and so no matter how good MinMin’s may have been, I wouldn’t have much good to say about them, and so I shall refrain from comment.

All in all, our 6 orders of gyoza worked out to under 1500yen, which surprised my friend, who had been prepared to pony up as much as 5000yen for dinner.  Good value for what we got, I reckon.


View Larger Map

Utsunomiya MinMin has eleven shops scattered through out Utsunomiya with a few shops in outlying areas.  The Takanezawa restaurant is located at 高根沢宝石台1-8-18, and is open Wednesday-Monday, 11:30-20:00. Inquiries can be made to 028-675-0609.  There is parking, but only for eight cars.  They also do home delivery anywhere in the country of gyoza for omiyage purposes, at reasonable prices, I think.  If you’re ever in Tochigi, do give Utsunomiya MinMin a try, yes?

高根沢宝石台1-8-18

Gardening Sunday: Succulents and Cheap Plants OH MY

Succulents
Succulents

You may remember that I’ve been trying to get jade plants and christmas cacti to grow from leaves for some time now.  I decided to put them all into pots of soil and move them to the bedroom where they’ll get a bit of sun, and see how that goes.

The tiny jade plant leaf I had in water never really rooted, but when I popped it in the soil, I noticed that it had grown two tinier leaves, so maybe it’ll do alright.

Christmas Cactus
Christmas Cactus
Christmas Cactus
Christmas Cactus

The Christmas Cactuses had rooted quite well, so I tossed one in soil and one in hydroculture.  The jar I chose for the hydroculture one isn’t best, though, as it’s difficult to tell the water level, but we’ll see anyway. The one in soil has a bud that I really ought to pinch off (it’s still just one leaf — I don’t see how it can safely survive a bloom), but I don’t think I will.  I’ll take my chances.

In other news, I LOVE buying plants at the Daiso, the 100yen shop.  Once a month or so I’ll pop in and have a look at their plants near the door, and they always seem to have a selection of interesting plants, for just 105 yen, so there’s no harm in picking one up. If it lives, I’ve added a new, interesting specimen to my place; if it dies, I’m not out much.

Lucky Bamboo
Lucky Bamboo
Coffee Tree
Coffee Tree

I picked up the silk jasmine in this way about a month ago. This time, I’ve picked up a “lucky bamboo” (which is neither lucky nor bamboo), and what is allegedly a coffee tree.  Who has a coffee tree plant? Seriously! It’s a bit of a rarity, and that’s why I picked it up.

I do hope the jade plants do well.  And the christmas cactuses.  And those Aloe Nobilis cuttings I planted way back!  They’re still not rotting or wilting or shrivelling or anything. But are they rooting? Short of (1) seeing new growth or (2) pulling one of them out to see what’s going on, I don’t really think there’s any way to tell.  Patience, I guess.

Wake-Up Call – October

Just 5 more minutes...
Just 5 more minutes...

Right, so here’s the deal.  I hate mornings.  I hate mornings SO VERY HARD.  I’ve never been a morning person.

Well, I say NEVER. I suppose when I was a little kid, I was a morning person.  I’d get up at 5 am or something so I could watch the weird oldtimey cartoons that were only run in the very early morning.  Things like Hercules or that cartoon with people on a sub or something…? I don’t know, frankly.

But at some point, I stopped being able to wake up in the morning.  I’d sleep until 11 am or noon or later, no matter how early I went to bed.  Something about how adolescents need more sleep because their bodies and minds are working overtime on the growing, or something.

Now that I’m getting older, I don’t sleep that late anymore, but weekends, no matter when I went to bed, I’ll still stay in bed until 10 or 10:30.  On work days when I need to be up at 6:50am? Torture, sheer and utter torture.

If I had to wake up to an obnoxious BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP, the fucking thing would be out the window and I’d be back to sleep immediately.  Hate that shit!  I’ve found, though, that if I’m waking up to music I like, I’m less willing to hit the snooze button, and more likely to roll my ass out of bed.

I have a clock radio that my iPod can attach to, and I just set it to a playlist, and it goes automatically when the alarm goes.  I let it play for an hour, and when it shuts off, that means it’s time to hurry up my morning routine and get out the door to work.  It’s actually quite an effective system.

Some people, I’m sure, would specifically pick songs every night before going to bed that they wanted to wake up to. Me? I just set my iPod to my Top Rated playlist, and let it go.  I thought I’d share some of the songs I woke up to last month, so you could hear and enjoy. Check it out after the jump.

Continue reading Wake-Up Call – October