Pork Gyoza

Here we gyoz-again.

In our last post, while discussing the most rockin’ sushi rolls around Corpus Christi, we also mentioned our order of deep-fried pork gyoza. Curious about what goes into the Japanese dumpling-making process, we decided to do some research of our own and headed out to the store.

Making it happen

The Process

For the most part, we followed this recipe from Budget Bytes. The best way we can describe this process is not horribly complicated but not easy, either. The most difficult part is the wrapping, so don’t be deterred if it takes you a few tries before you get it right. Our biggest tip (or smallest, depending on how you look at it) is to put a very small amount of meat mixture into the center of the dumpling. This will make wrapping easier and also ensure that you can cook the meat all the way through in the pan without burning the outside shell of the gyoza.

Making the magic happen
More difficult than it looks!

The Results

While we can’t speak to authenticity and won’t pretend to, we will say that this was such a fun process and these gyoza turned out delicious. They had the prime level of crunch and it was so hard to not pop ten of these in our mouths at a time. The filling was tasty and it would be super easy to adjust to your specific tastes. These are, dare we say, better than those from Rock ‘n Roll? Get your favorite hoisin sauce, fish sauce, or soy sauce, and go to town!

The journey to the crunch

What Should You Know Before You Make Pork Gyoza?

  • Some of these ingredients may not be the easiest to find at typical grocery stores. We suggest going to an Asian supermarket for the best quality ingredients, primed and perfect for making gyoza.
  • A quick tip on the wrapping process before you get frustrated: YouTube! There are plenty of gyoza-wrapping videos, but this top result is easy to follow and also has text directions.
  • Pre-made gyoza wrappers are great for the novices like us, but if you’re already a gyoza-making pro, why not step it up a notch? Make your own wrappers with this recipe.
  • If you can’t find round wrappers specifically for making gyoza, don’t fret. The larger square ones will work just fine; all you need to do is use a biscuit cutter for the perfectly-sized circles.
A lineup we can get behind

When Should You Make Pork Gyoza?

We fully recommend making gyoza on a solo date night! Here’s what we mean by that. Gyoza are technically a “small bite,” so an appetizer or snack, and they do take up some pretty good time if you’re not accustomed to making them. Therefore, here’s our idea: treat yourself to some creative, culinary alone time and enjoy the slow, steady process of putting these gyoza together. Pour yourself a glass of Japanese plum wine, order an entree, and be rewarded with your creation.

Once you are accustomed to the process? Making these will fly by and be the perfect bite to take to parties. Skip the veggie tray and bring an entire tray of gyoza!

Rock on, gyoza lovers

The Tunes

Still going strong with f&f 2: sushi & gyoza. These soft rock tunes are the ideal pairing to your solo date. Stay tuned for our next playlist!

Rock & Rolls Sushi Lounge

These rolls really rock.

In case you couldn’t tell by our blog name, we love a good alliteration and a good ampersand. That’s not to even mention our love for a good theme, and Rock & Rolls Sushi Lounge has all three. A strong start to our review, to be sure.

Lounge is the perfect word for this restaurant. Rock & Rolls Sushi Lounge is small and dark, but also very cool. Classic rock music plays while an Elvis statue silently rocks on in the corner. The center of the establishment is the bar around which the rest of the restaurant is situated.

The whole shebang

The Fizz

The fizz options at Rock & Rolls really knock it out of the park. We tried two cocktails–the Bad Company Martini and the Purple Rain. The Bad Company consists of your choice of cucumber or watermelon juice, 1876 vodka, lemon juice, mint, and a chili salt rim. Even non-martini drinkers will die for this delicious cocktail. It’s refreshing and the perfect balance of sweet and spicy, not to mention SO photogenic. The Purple Rain is Empress 1908 Gin, Chase elderflower liqueur, lavender, simple syrup, lemon juice, and a splash of champagne. This is a unique and equally-delicious cocktail that’s heavy on the lavender. These cocktails really go well with any dish, which is why they pair so well with a sushi lounge of such unique offerings. 

Giddy for Gyoza

The Fork

Okay, let’s talk courses. This is a sushi lounge, but that isn’t to say that Rock and Rolls neglects their starters. This go-round, we ordered the spicy miso soup and the gyoza. The miso soup is a classic miso soup, plus. Plus sriracha, plus simbal, plus delicious hotness. When it comes to the gyoza, you will get a choice of fried or steamed. Note that the fry in this scenario isn’t just a pan fry as you might expect, it’s an actual deep fry. We learned this after ordering but were not disappointed in the least.

We also ordered a California roll, for comparison’s sake

Now, for what you’ve all been waiting for. The sushi. We’ve already mentioned balance in the fizz section, but want to reiterate that here. Rock & Rolls is great at balancing flavor profiles in one dish. We ordered three rolls–the Rhapsody of Bohemia, the Light My Fire, and the Californication. The Calfornication was different than expected but very good. The fried spicy jalapeño rings really add to this roll. The two others, however, were the star of this meal.The secret to the Rhapsody of Bohemia is a strawberry topping, which sounds strange but pairs excellently with the spice of the rest of the roll. Then, there was the Light My Fire, a goat cheese and jalapeño concoction. Let’s just say, we ate the entire meal and then ordered another Light My Fire roll. So. good.

And light my fire it did

We topped this absolute monstrosity of a meal with tempura ice cream. The batter could be thinner but the cake on the bottom of the ice cream was soft and tasty. We likely won’t be ordering this again, mostly because we would rather save the room for more sushi!

Things to Know Before You Go:

  • Parking: We’re going to be blunt about this. Parking sucks. It’s a tiny parking lot for a tiny shopping center with five other businesses in it. Try to carpool if going with a group or be prepared to park in the grass.
  • Reservations: We recommend making a reservation, especially for a busy night like Friday or Saturday. We called the morning of on a Saturday and were able to get one, albeit not at our perfect time, so the earlier the better.
  • Don’t knock it ‘till you try it. Rock & Rolls has several unique flavor combinations on their list. Ask your server for recommendations based on your palette.
  • Sharing is caring! Try the widest variation of sushi by sharing rolls with your companions. 
There’s a cake hidden under all that heaven

When Should You Make Your Own Trip to Rock & Rolls?

We think Rock ‘n Rolls makes a great date night spot, but an already-in-a-relationship date night, not first-date-never-met date night. While food and cocktails are exquisite, it can get loud which can put a damper on conversation. As we said, the space isn’t huge, so we would refrain from taking huge groups unless you plan ahead so they can set the space up. Considering Mindy did go there before senior year homecoming in high school, though, it’s certainly an option. 

The Tunes

Finally, we can release f&f2: sushi & gyoza to the world! These chill rock jams are the ideal pairing for a plate of sushi and a cocktail. You’ll also notice several live recordings on the list. Covid has taken its toll and we are READY for live music again. In the meantime, though, these live covers will do the trick! Enjoy.

Sixty Vines

Houston’s “tappiest” date night spot

When we first walked into Sixty Vines in Rice Village, we didn’t think much of the name. We knew it was a wine bar, of course, and the name makes for a cute logo, but as it turns out, they mean what they say.

Sixty Vines has at least sixty wines on tap at all times (sixty-three, to be exact. We counted!). It’s a wino’s haven. Plus, all the food is ethically and locally-sourced, and all inspired by wine country cuisine, more than living up to expectations.

House-made frose

The Wine

We ordered a total of four different wines—a Cascinetta Vietti sparkling moscato from Italy, a Vine Huggers pinot noir from the Russian River Valley, a South African Lubenzi Chenin Blanc, and, to go with dessert, a house-made frosé. Don’t worry, we brought friends! The wide variety of the menu and the seemingly endless bar of wine taps could easily get overwhelming,but the staff was helpful and friendly, and were able to make recommendations to tailor to each of our preferences. The result was that each person got a wine fitting to their flavor profile, and we all know how a good glass of wine can elevate a meal.

The Savory

Up first on our savory docket was a plate of mushroom toast. The plate was small and best shared between two people, but the mushrooms were exquisitely cooked. Then came the entreés. The menu has enough options that you don’t have to order a particular kind of food, and you can stay in your individual price range, but not too many options as to be overwhelming. We ordered the Orecchiette Primavera, the Spicy Sausage Pizza, the Tonnarelli, and the Pork Chop. The overall verdict from us and our fellow diners? The food is delicious, but not too rich. The coconut in the Tonnarelli was noticeable but not overpowering, the pizza was light enough to still work with wine, the butter pesto was incredible but not overdone, and the carrots on the side of the pork chop were perfectly tender. If we were limited to two adjectives about the food, they would be light and flavorful. Even after a full plate, you’ll feel satisfied but not sluggish, and you know what that means…plenty of room for dessert!

Texas Citrus Olive Oil Cake

The Sweet

Because we couldn’t just decide on one, we ordered two desserts, from each side of the flavor spectrum. First up, the Deviled Affogato, which was a devil’s food cake topped with salted caramel ice cream, coffee caramel, and on the side, a shot of nitro cold brew coffee shot. The coffee comes on the side and you can choose how little or much of it to pour over the top. It was perfectly balanced, and none of the flavors felt like they took over the dish. We also ordered the Texas Olive Oil Citrus Cake. To be honest, by the time we got to the olive oil cake, we were all stuffed. Yet the unassuming slice proved to be a perfect night cap. The cake was light and not too dense, and the apple slices on top gave it the perfect little crunch. It made a great side for the frosé, too!

Things to Know Before You Go:

  • Parking: There’s a parking garage that offers free two hour parking and that opens directly onto the second floor of the restaurant. Otherwise, there is metered parking available throughout Rice Village.
  • The area: The Sixty Vines we visited is located in the heart of Houston’s Rice Village, but there are also locations in Plano, TX, Uptown Dallas, TX, and Winter Park, FL.
  • Serving sizes: Before you go, be aware of the wine serving sizes. 

So when should you make your own trip to Sixty Vines?

Date night! This restaurant and wine bar is the perfect place to show off your impressive wine knowledge to a blind date or to enjoy a dressed-up evening with your significant other.

Have you been to Sixty Vines? What did you think? Can you guess what recipe we’ll be trying out next week as inspired by our trip there? Let us know by leaving a comment below!