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Tenpei: The King of Gyoza / ひとくち餃子発祥店 天平

Delectable dumplings; gyoza from heaven; the best of the best according to the locals.   The King of Gyoza.  Welcome to Tenpei! Okay, so, I’ve eaten gyoza in China, Taiwan, and at many Chinatowns through-out Japan and in the States, too, so that gives me a little experience, no?   I love gyoza.  I’ve even dined at the best of the best gyoza joints in Utsunomiya; five to be exact,and Utsunomiya is considered the capital of gyoza in Japan by many food geeks..

All of the gyoza I have had up to now have all been excellent.  I can’t pick a favorite.  But,  one things for sure, Osaka style hitokuchi gyoza is to die for(ひとくち・一口bit sized gyoza).  Sure, you can find these kinds of gyoza all over Osaka, but none with as long a history as Tenpei in Kitashinchi which has been around since Showa 30(1955).  This is a local favorite by all standards, and what that means is that it’s hard to find and off the beaten track.  Only a few old timers knew where this place was which happened to be down a dark and damp alley – it was midnight when I was trying to find my way there.

It took me a week to research about good eats around Osaka.  I scoured through dozens of SNS sites, food magazines and people who have been to Osaka.  Finally, on my way to work I picked up this month’s edition of Dancyu(Japanese food magazine) which was packed with all kinds of recommendations for good eats around Tokyo and Kanagawa.   And then, on the last page I found Tenpei of Osaka!  Strange.  Of all the recommendation around my area there was a listing for one or two gyoza places in Osaka; Tenpei was one of them.

I picked up the phone and made a reservation in Japanese, the lady at the other end acknowledge me and arranged a table for me right in front at the bar counter.  It was so cool.  When you order they role the gyoza right there in front of you to see – no pre-made gyoza.
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Jukujo arms – sorry
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I wasn’t allowed to get too close as the atomosphere was a bit somber and I didn’t want to seem intrusive.  It was rare to see a foreigner there, maybe.  I think I was the first they said.  For me, these places serve up the best food in my opinion.  I care nothing about the atmosphere.  For me, only the food matters and most times it’s the conservative joints that offer up the best eats.
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Crispy one bite sized gyoza!
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Nice tall one to go along with it, too.
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I ate 20!  The first words out of my mouth were crispy, crispy, crispy.  Wow.  I loved these little bite sized gyoza.  The pork and other secret ingredients was excellent.  Most gyoza have a lightly crispy bottom, these were the same but more crispy because they were smaller than the usual gyoza.  I fell in love with these.  I had to fight not to order another serving.  N.B. standard gyoza is roughly about 4 inches in length and roughly 2 inches in width.  Hitokuchi gyoza is about 1 to 2 inches in length and girth – just to compare.
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They stay open all night, closed on Sunday.  Kitashinchi is a bit far from the main areas of Shinsaibashi and Dotonburi.  Be prepared to walk and get lost.  Check the link.   This gyoza gets the highest marks in my book as being delicious and simple.
No English is spoken and there are no menus available in neither English nor Japanese.   You just order “gyoza.”

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