When riding the Metro Line 3 in Paris, I would always see the Quatre-Septembre station and imagine how special those born on that date must feel in regard to this particular stop. Last night, I finally got a chance to disembark here on my way to Hakata Choten, a Japanese restaurant.
Hakata Choten’s flashiest selling point is that their gyozas won the title of Best Gyozas in Japan in 2004. I was so curious to try this European-made gyoza which beat each gyoza made in Japan itself! And I apparently was not the only curious one – there was a bit of a line near closing time on a Wednesday.
Hakata Choten makes the most of its dining room space. There is a terrace, an upstairs, and a downstairs, without a single seat empty. I sat in the indoor downstairs area, placed against the wall in a classic ramen-bar setup. They did a nice job of separating each party who ate at the bar. I’m sure we can thank COVID for this effort.
The menu is pretty straightforward, with several options for how to take your gyozas and several options for how to take your ramen. I ordered spicy miso gyozas and miso ramen, while my friend ordered the classic award-winning gyozas and their special ramen bowl, which was meant to have a little taste of everything they offered.
To drink, I tried something new – sparkling saké. It was wonderful! It tasted like the way a pink bubble-flooded flower garden looks and smells. I am going to hunt down this drink and add it to my weekly grocery list.
I’m not quite sure of what I was expecting from Japan’s best gyozas, but I was not let down! There was nothing more I could have asked for from these dumplings. The top part was delicate and squishy, the bottom was crunchy. The dough was obviously fresh, as was the pale pink pork filling. They were very moist, and quite oily. The spicy miso option, as it turns out, was not a differently-composed gyoza but just the classic with a special sauce on top. I loved the sauce! It complimented the dumpling’s existing flavors vibrantly but not aggressively. I would order the classic as a first-timer just to fully experience the mastery with a simple backdrop, but when I go back I will have to go for the spicy miso option.
After the gyozas, I figured that the meal could not get even better. I was right, but the ramen was still delicious! Pictured above is the Special Signature Ramen, which hosts spicy miso sauce, black garlic sauce, an egg, and a slice of pork belly. I adored the black sauce most of all, and when I go back, I will probably order the full black garlic option.
My miso ramen was still good, but it was not as flavorful as the one above. It was even a little bit sweet. I really enjoyed the noodles, but I did not jump to drink all the leftover broth at the end. And there was a lot! This was an extremely filling meal. In the future, I would choose to get gyozas OR ramen, not both (read: I would choose to get gyozas.).
Walking back to Quatre-Septembre, we passed dozens of other Asian restaurants. If a craving ever arises for Asian food, know that this is the place to go! I can’t imagine that I will ever resist coming back to Hakata Choten if I’m in the area. But it is nice to know that there are plenty of backup options around for if the line happens to be too long 🙂