Emma Dance meets the couple behind Eatchu, the newest street-food stall in St Nick's Market
The aromas from gyoza stall Eatchu reach me before I can see it. Tucked away on Exchange Avenue, just off Corn Street and on the edge of St Nicholas Market, it’s a little off the main drag but the tempting scent of sesame oil acts as a guide, drawing me in.
“That smell of sesame oil is our main selling point,” laughs Guy, one half of the couple behind Eatchu. “People just love it!”
Keen foodies will already be familiar with Eatchu, since Guy and his partner Vic have been peddling gyozas at the Harbourside street-food market. But now the street food stall has set up a permanent base, cooking up the delicious Japanese dumplings for hungry lunchtime crowds six days a week.
Guy and Vic first fell in love with gyoza while travelling around Japan and have spent months perfecting the recipe and technique.
“The secret to a great gyoza is a really thin wrapper,” said Guy. “It means there’s much more emphasis on the filling.”
Currently they sell three varieties, pork, chicken and tofu. The pork is sourced from local butchers Ruby and White, and Guy and Vic use a blend of belly and shoulder to give it just the right taste and texture, while the chicken variety is cooked with a specially made nori butter.
The gyoza are cooked traditionally using the steam-fry method which means that they are shallow fried in sesame oil before boiling water is added to the pan to cook the filling, then more sesame oil is added once the pan is dry. The result is little morsels of deliciousness with the base of the gyoza crisp and the top soft and delicate.
Customers can then choose from a selection of sauces, seasonings, oils and toppings to dress their gyoza.
“We wanted to be able to give people the option to customise their gyozas themselves so they could really get involved, and create something that suits their personal taste,” said Guy.
Eatchu only opened at St Nicks at the end of September, but is already gathering a loyal following, and Guy and Vic hope that the word will soon spread.
“We have a Japanese man who visits us regularly, which is about as good an endorsement as we can get,” said Vic.
“About 50% of the people who come up to us are aware of gyozas and what they are,” said Guy. “But the other half have never heard of them.
“We wanted to do something that no-one else in Bristol was doing and although you can get gyoza in Wagamamas and Yo Sushi we are the only people only doing gyoza. We hope it stays that way for a while, although in some ways it might get easier when more people are doing it.”
Next to the stall is a small room, furnished with benches and traditional Japanese accessories so that the gyoza can be enjoyed in comfort, even on cold and rainy days, but Guy and Vic have plans to expand still further.
“It’s a work in progress for us,” said Guy. “We want to turn it into a quintessentially Japanese izakaya destination, so it needs to be warm, homely, welcoming and busy! That’s going to take some time and money, so we hope that the first six months will see lots of decorative additions and more comfort for our customers."
Prices start from £5 for a box of six gyoza.
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