If you are as much of a theatre-lover as ourselves at Townfish, you might have encountered the problem of finding a suitable restaurant for that pre or post-theatre meal. You want to enjoy speedy food service without having to dine at a fast food outlet, where they want to supersize your meal but get rid of you in the quickest possible time.
Gyoza Bar in the heart of theatreland in Covent Garden is definitely one dining outlet to consider. They have a no reservations policy, but there are enough seating to ensure you shouldn’t struggle to find space. The decor is effectively simple: wooden tables, benches and walls with the odd dash of colour from their orange beams and chairs.
The main items on their menu are gyoza, bao and ramen. It is somewhat surprising to find the list of ramen marginally longer than the list for gyoza given the name of the restaurant. The menu helpfully explains for the uninitiated that gyoza are Japanese dumplings, but does come unstuck when mentioning bao as steamed Japanese buns. Would it not be better to use nikuman, which is the Japanese equivalent for the Chinese word, bao? They are clearly keen to cash in on the current bao craze sweeping London.
As expected, the baos were pillowy and fluffy, although it could have been slightly more moist. The chicken katsu was crunchy and had a lovely tinge of sweetness from the tonkatsu sauce. Whilst the flavours from the stewed pork belly soaked invitingly into the bun.
Their tempura ramen is one of the best deals you will find in London. There are 5 vegetable tempuras, 2 prawns tempuras and a delicious, salty egg yolk from the shoyu tamago along with healthy doses of spring onions, bean sprouts and tenderstem broccoli to go with the slightly chewy ramen noodles. All this for only £11.50. Yes the ramen broth might not be better than specialist ramen bars and the baos are not as sponge-like as the dedicated bao restaurants in London, but it is value for money.
We tried the fried gyoza moriawase; I would say the pork version is the best, but they are all uniformly excellent as the skin is thin and the dumpling not overpacked with meat. The garlic vinegar and umami soy just adds that hint of savouriness to give these little parcels added appeal.
Desserts were limited to 2 options. The crispy fried ice cream unfortunately was not hot and crispy on the outside, but my guest did enjoy the vanilla ice cream on the inside. Whilst the matcha cheesecake was thankfully petite but lacking in moisture.
Service is suitably efficient and friendly and its close proximity to many theatres in the West End, makes it the ideal location for dining pre or post-theatre.