The gyoza (ghee yoh zah) at Jinya is, for me, the best that I have had so far in Los Angeles. The Kiyoken Gyo-za Ekimae Bento at Yokohama Train Station may be better although tasting quite different from Jinya’s, but may not be worth going 10 hours by jet just to have a nosh. The rough ground pork was infused with a touch of ginger, garlic, sesame oil, Shiro Kosho- (ground white, aromatic pepper) and maybe Dashi (fond de cuisine), & MIrin (sweet Japanese Sake) and was mixed with a fine cutting of cabbage and onions.
This mixture was sauteed together to let all the flavours meld. Then it was put into thin wonton skins to make a dumpling, and placed in hot oil to crisp. The thin wonton skin was crispy on one side and soft, chewy on the other. The inside mixture was porky Umami and light & fresh tasting at the same time due to the inclusion of the finely chopped vegetables.
The amount of salt in the Gyo-za was sufficient so I mixed only a touch of Ponzu (pone zoo) Sauce, a bit of garlic infused Ra-men sauce, & a hot chile paste as a dipping sauce. The vinegar acts as a gastric to cut the oiliness of the fried Gyo-za while the piquancy of the chile paste ups the Umami factor.
The Crispy Chicken is another well constructed appetizer or can be even part of a main meal. The generous sized cuts of breast meat which is usually dry & tasteless seems to be marinated in Sho-yu (soy sauce), Mirin (Japanese sweetened Sake/Sah keh), & fresh ginger for a few hours to empahasize more meaty flavours & to tenderized & moisten the breast meat.
The batter seems to have a lot of corn starch & a smaller portion of wheat flour which combines to form a crispy, drier crust that stays crunchy a long time. Fresh oil seems to be used to produce a fresh, sweet aftertaste. Some disreputable restaurants keep reusing the oil for a long time so that it causes their fried foods to take on a weird “off” taste. The smallest portion is for 5 pieces although there are 10 & 15 pieces available for a considerable discount, but the 5 piece portion is almost good for 2 people if Ra-men is ordered separately later.
There was room for dessert so I ordered the Annin which is Almond extract scented light pudding with diced fresh kiwi, strawberry, mango. The sweetness is repressed since this dessert is meant more to refresh the palate after the rather “heavy meal” of Ra-men, Gyo-za, or Crispy Chicken.
Next time, I will have to retry their signature Premium Tonkotsu White Ra-men to see if the preparation has been re-improved compared to my previous most recent tasting in 2012.