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[Eat It]: Tentekomai

Tentekomai is my neighborhood Japanese, though I never call it by that name. "Tentekomai" means nothing in my world (to online Japanese translators it's "humming with activity"). The literal transla...
2009-09-22 17:09:00


Tentekomai is my neighborhood Japanese, though I never call it by that name. "Tentekomai" means nothing in my world (to online Japanese translators it's "humming with activity"). The literal translation of its Chinese name speaks to me, though: The Ancient Dance of the Heavenly Hand. It's mystical and grand, and I like that in my gyoza.

The Ancient Dance is a casual joint with a smoky dining room, cheap draft beers, and lots of drinking food. The Japanese customers seem to use it two ways: making dinner out of a simmering pot of congee or a light stew, or doing the drinking thing and munching salty, fried snacks and dumplings. I'm of the latter persuasion. (There's also a six-seater bar, great for solo dining. That's it, pictured.)



The Heavenly Hand has some delicate, dumpling-folding fingers. Their pan-fried dumplings, the gyoza, are tiny and come about fifteen to the order. Witness:



The menu politely informs you about the correct way to eat them. It's important, but not entirely clear. I'll clarify. There's three components: chopped spring onions, a chili sauce, and soy sauce. The waitress will drop off a bowl of the spring onions; the chili sauce and soy are at the table. Heap a spoon of spring onions in your sauce dish, use the matchstick-looking spoon to add almost an equal amount of chili sauce, and thin it out with the soy sauce. The dumplings come stuffed a variety of ways -- with garlic and potato, with cod roe, etc.

TELL EVERYONE