Gyoza at the Izakaya Restaurant in Ottawa
For many years, one of my favorite restaurants in Ottawa was Big Daddy’s Crab Shack on Elgin Street. I was very disappointed when it closed, but was mollified when Iazakaya opened its doors in the same location. Unfortunately, Izakaya did not last all that long and was replaced, but I got to enjoy several very pleasant meals there whilst they were open. The Gyoza appetizer you see pictured above wasn’t one of their best dishes. It was cleverly conceived, but not very well executed.
This dish appeared on the Izakaya appetizer menu as ‘Short-Rib Gyoza’ and was described as being served with an onion confit and a Balsamic-Teriyaki reduction. It wasn’t clear from this description whether the confit was to be on the side or incorporated with the beef in the Gyoza. As it happened, it turned out to be the latter.
Izakaya lost a few points almost immediately with the plating here. The sauce, being the Balsamic–Teriyaki Sauce reduction was slopped all over the plate and it was a very inky black in color. There was so much of it drenching and pooling on the dumplings that the visual appeal was really diminished.
To be fair, the sauce wasn’t too bad all in all. I am sure many people would really like it, although, for my taste, it was just a bit cloying. Had it been prepared with a lighter Soy Sauce, less sugar, and been applied with a little restraint, it might have worked very well.
The dumplings themselves were not all that good. In the first place, it was clear that commercially made wrappers were used (which rarely produce the best results), and in this case the cooking process had left them so that the edges had hardened to a dense cardboard consistency.
The Onion confit in the filling was very nice and the sweetness of the onions came through very well, but the short-rib beef was disappointing. It didn’t taste bad, by any means, but it had been processed excessively and was really not much more than a texture-less paste. The concept behind the Gyoza at the Izakaya was very good, but, in the end the execution was very poor.