I have a personal affinity for gyoza.

Perhaps it’s my love of the underdog, a sentimental identification with that misshapen parcel of ugliness that hides a hidden goodness. Or maybe it’s my sympathy for the traveller in all of us, for the stereotyped migrant who’s an individual in their own right.

Whatever! There’s no hiding my love of the ‘pot sticker’.

Dumplings have been around since the Sung Dynasty. They’ve travelled through Asia, to Japan in the 1940s, and across the seas to Australia. To the Chinese they’re jiaozi (Mandarin) or gow gee (Cantonese); to Japanese, gyoza.

Steamed, fried or boiled, served in bamboo baskets or on a plate, gyoza are in hot demand in most Australian cities, a late-night snack or quick cheap meal for those on the move.

The typical gyoza filling consists of ground pork, chives, green onion, cabbage, ginger, garlic, soy sauce and sesame oil. Modern interpretations not only include seafood gyoza, but also some complete reinventions of gyoza’s fillings: Wagyu Gyoza at both Etsu and Hideaway Bar, Foie Gras and Beef Gyoza at Torii, and the QT Hotel’s Stingray Bar’s ‘Cheeseburger Gyoza’.

Although gyoza can be deep-fried (Hachi) or steamed, even in soup (Top Noodle), mostly we eat yaki gyoza on the Gold Coast, panfried and steamed, served with their crisp edge accompanied by a dipping sauce of soy sauce and vinegar, often with a little chilli oil added.

It’s easy to cheat and have gyoza on your plate within 5 minutes, cooked according to instructions on the back of the freezer packet.

So, what’s the catch? All the frozen prawn dumplings we looked at are made in Vietnam and filled with imported seafood such as Vannamei prawns (as feed, linked to biosecurity risks for our own prawn industry). The Australian made brands using local ingredients are the Coles Chicken & Ginger Gyoza, Crazy Dragon, and Mama Chow brand (the latter made by Innova Foods). The rule of thumb remains: avoid prawn gyoza unless you know it’s Australian-sourced.

Also be aware that even when you buy gyoza from a restaurant, they are not always freshly made, or even made in Australia. They may just be ‘finished off’ in the pan, and still taste pretty good. Some of our freshest dumplings are available at market stalls, or from specialty chefs who make these two bite wonders from scratch (such as the dumplings pictured above from Good Luck Dumplings, Centre Arcade, Surfers).

Our rule of thumb judgement is whether the dumplings are handmade by the venue, made on the Gold Coast, or packet dumplings finished off in store. Uniform dumplings are more likely to be packaged product.

Then there’s the taste factor. The soft skin should yield willingly to the bite, with the inner filling deliciously tasty.

So, where can you buy good dumplings when the urge hits?

Here’s a non-definitive list of some of our favourite gyoza; the ones whose ‘melt in your mouth goodness’ leaves us longing for more. Enjoy!

Mamasan, Broadbeach – Who could go past Mamasan’s Pork and chive gyoza with mung bean noodle crisp, ginger and shallot soy foam! Yum!

Etsu Izakaya, Mermaid Beach – Think house-made wagyu, mushroom and spring onion gyoza with chilli soy dip. Gone in a flash!

Hideaway Kitchen & Bar, Broadbeach – Steamed or fried, Hideaway’s wagyu beef dumplings dipped in chilli oil are da’ bomb! We choose to have ours fried. What about you?

Good Luck Dumplings, Surfers Paradise – At twelve dumplings for $12.50, with a choice of four fillings, Good Luck Dumplings is the best value in town! What’s more, they’re all made in house!

Mei Wei, Broadbeach – The casual dumpling bar on the ground floor of The Star Gold Coast serves ‘pot stickers’, the Chinese version of gyoza. Equally delicious but with slightly thicker skins, these dumplings are made in house; a tasty snack either fried or boiled, with three fillings available: beef, pork or chicken.

Kuan Yin, Southport’s fried dumplings are some of the best vegetarian dumplings available on the Gold Coast.

Muso Ramen & Gyoza Bar, Mermaid Beach & The Kitchens, Robina – Muso, meaning ‘without equal’, buys the gyoza skins and makes the fillings of their delicious dumplings in house. With a choice of beef, pork or cheese gyoza, they’re really tasty for the price, either pan-fried or boiled.

Zipang, Currumbin – Zipang’s gingery pork dumplings (gyoza) are locally made and delicious.

Similarly, the gyoza at Hakataya Ramen’s outlets at Surfers Paradise and Pacific Fair, Broadbeach, are locally made.

Top Noodle, Coolangatta has some of our favourite soup dumplings on offer.

O-Sushi, Broadbeach and Coolangatta – Three choices of gyoza are available: Vegetable, prawn and vegetables, and chicken and vegetables, all MSG free.

Wazen, West Burleigh – There’s nothing like an owner chef to come up with the goods, the case at Wazen, where the crispy gyoza are filled with chicken and fresh vegetables

Harajuku Gyoza Beer Stadium on the ground floor of the Oasis Shopping Centre in Broadbeach, is full of surprises with their fun fusion offerings, including Nutella dumplings. Read our full review of Harajuku Gyoza.

NOTE: This review has also been published in Blank GC.