Japan Tourism / Let’s Eat Ageo Kushi-gyoza; Comparing Many Unique Kinds of ‘Gyoza’

Ryoko Yomiuri Publication
Confectionery shop hoTAte’s fruit and cake dessert kushi-gyoza is priced at ¥380 per stick. Cranberry sauce and butter cake are in perfect harmony with the sweet and sour filling of white sweet bean paste and boiled kiwi pulp. This is a fusion of Japanese and Western sweets that makes for a truly unique experience.

A local delicacy in Ageo, Saitama Prefecture, has spurred an evolution in gyoza recipes. Exploring this trend can reveal all sorts of hidden culinary gems.

Ageo is in southeastern Saitama Prefecture. It’s an easy-access commuter town about 40 minutes from Tokyo Station on the JR Takasaki Line.

Ryoko Yomiuri Publication
There are several restaurants that serve kushi-gyoza near Ageo station.

For the 65th anniversary of the city’s founding, the tourism association has cooked up an opportunity to highlight a local delicacy, Ageo kushi-gyoza.

The dish, created by a local restaurant, came into the limelight in 2013 after winning the Kirari Ageo Gotochi Gurume Matsuri food contest.

The original recipe for Ageo kushi-gyoza was like tsukune, skewered Japanese chicken meatballs, but it was made with ground pork wrapped in sliced pork ribs. After the meat was cooked in a frying pan or over a charcoal fire, it was drizzled with a ponzu-based sauce.

Over the past 10 years, the recipe has been altered to stir up more interest in the dish, and other restaurants and shops have been making their own versions. Wrapping meat around the meat filling is no longer a requirement, and fish can also be used as filling.

To encourage creativity in the creation of new recipes, restaurants in the city that serve kushi-gyoza are allowed to freely choose the filling and wrapping ingredients. The only rule is that they must “wrap something around something else and skewer it.”

Now, 22 restaurants of diverse types serve kushi-gyoza with all sorts of creative variations. As a result, more kinds of Ageo kushi-gyoza have come into being than would have been possible with just one restaurant. Some are even filled with sweets instead of meat or fish, making it into a dessert.

The Ageo Kushi-Gyoza Fes event that took place in April was absolutely packed with people. With takeout available at many restaurants, visitors were able to enjoy eating and comparing a wide range of kushi-gyoza.

Any of them could become the next hot thing. So, why not to be first to try one?

Japan Tourism is presented in collaboration with Ryoko Yomiuri Publication, which publishes Ryoko Yomiuri, a monthly travel magazine.

Ryoko Yomiuri Publication
The Kushimame yakitori restaurant’s chicken and pork Ageo kushi-gyoza. Minced chicken and chopped tontoro pork add a richness to the fillings, which include a generous portion of chives. Ponzu sauce with onions brings the whole taste together. This classic style Ageo kushi-gyoza wrapped in meat is reasonably priced at ¥220 per stick and goes perfectly with sake.
Ryoko Yomiuri Publication
The Kuishinbo ramen shop’s 15 centimeter-long Toku Ebi Gyoza (special shrimp gyoza) at ¥400 per stick comes highly recommended. A Japanese tiger prawn is covered with minced pork, chives, bamboo shoots and shiitake mushrooms with oyster sauce, then wrapped in pork ribs. The tender shrimp texture stands out even among the strong meat flavor.
Ryoko Yomiuri Publication
The Sushicho sushi shop’s fried fish and tofu kushi-gyoza costs ¥400 per stick. Grilled Indian tuna collar is mixed with chopped onions, chives and garlic to make the filling. The filling is then put into an abura-age deep fried tofu pouch and fried. The gyoza’s crispy texture will have people coming back for more time and again.


Japan Tourism is presented in collaboration with Ryoko Yomiuri Publication, which publishes Ryoko Yomiuri, a monthly travel magazine. click here.