"This is all you need to be happy," my friend Julian kept repeating as we shoveled dumplings into our faces washed down with quarts of ice cold beer. It was a dumpling joint in Harajuku called Gyoza Rou (I think) that Julian eats at three or four times a week whenever he is in Tokyo. I don't think he actually meant that one can survive on beer and gyoza alone, but this place sure makes a case for it.
The menu was limited: pork dumplings, chive and garlic dumplings (which also have pork, obviously) served either steamed or fried. There's chicken soup with rice and they serve three starters, chunks of cucumbers in a sweet miso sauce, cabbage and bean sprouts liberally doused in pork.
In Japan, they don't consider pork meat, just a necessary addition to many foods. My friend Erica is a vegetarian who lives in Japan. The other day she ordered an egg and cheese burger without the burger. She explained several times, in Japanese, that she didn't want meat on it. So they served it to her sans burger, but with the addition of a slice of bacon. Because pork isn't meat, it's just delicious.
At my urging, we ordered everything on the menu. One order of each type of gyoza steamed and one order of each fried. Plus the three starters. Plus chicken soup and rice.
As a nightcap, we added another round of fried pork gyoza. Julian is convinced that cold beer and dumplings can make a person happy. Always striving for as much happiness as possible, I managed to beat my recent record of 14 gyoza in a sitting.