56, passage des Panoramas, in the 2nd Arrondissement. 01 44 82 00 62.
Tues–Sat, noon–2:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.–11:00 p.m.
Despite the mutual influence between French and Asian culture, it can be difficult to find superb Paris restaurants focused on Asian food. But when you do, it feels as though you’ve stumbled upon a priceless treasure, especially when the treasure comes at only a gentle nudge to the wallet. That’s exactly how I felt about Gyoza Bar, in the 2nd Arrondissement.
The cozy and charming Passage des Panoramas, with its specialized boutiques and classic eateries, is home to Gyoza Bar’s small, unassuming space. This Japanese hot spot keeps things utterly simple, all the better to focus one’s mind on the food. The Zen-style space, in shades of neutral, muted gray and beige tones, comprises a single bar surrounding the three cooks. And keeping to its no-frills theme, there are only three menu choices: a sesame-marinated sprout salad appetizer; finely cooked rice; and either 8 or 12 pieces of gyoza. In my experience, when a restaurant focuses on a single dish, it is bound to be flawless, if only because the chefs have more than enough opportunity to perfect the technique. Gyoza Bar’s offerings are no disappointment.
The sprout salad, included with every order, prepares the mouth with clean, cool flavors, and the main event—the gyoza—is truly deserving of its spotlight status. Though all too often gyoza can end up being soggy, oily and guilt-inducing, Gyoza Bar’s main dish reaches a transcendental balance of steamed and pan-fried, crispy but not at all greasy, enveloping a well-seasoned pocket of ground pork and spices that bring out the meat’s fresh and sublime flavor. Dipped in the grapefruit ponzu side sauce, the star plate has the power to satisfy without weighing down either the palate or the belly.
There are cocktails available, but pairing your gyoza with an equally simple yet refreshing Kirin beer ensures that a quick meal at Gyoza Bar is the perfect way to start—or end—a great night out.
In a nutshell: For fast and expertly made Japanese bites, Gyoza Bar is the best-kept Asian food secret in Paris.
Price check: Dinner, 6–10 euros.
If you like the sound of Gyoza Bar, you might also like Naritake. Read the review.
31, rue des Petits Champs, in the 1st Arrondissement.
Mon–Sat, noon–2:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.–10 p.m.
No phone, no reservations.
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Passage des Panoramas