This unconventional gyoza shop in the middle of nowhere attracts a diverse range of customers, including top-tier celebrities.
You may or may not like gyoza, and people’s opinions may differ, but here’s an unmistakable fact about gyoza: It is a fried dumpling with a distinctive shape.
But today, we want you to forget everything you’ve learned about gyoza for a while, forget about all the gyoza you’ve had before, because we’re taking you to try a new kind of gyoza, and believe us when we say you’re in for a treat.
This is the story of Feng Zhu, a tiny gyoza vendor at Si Phraya Pier…
To actually start the topic, what happens when the philosophical concept of food is deconstructed? What is gyoza, exactly? What is a dumpling, exactly? And exactly what is wonton? What makes one different from the other?
Feng Zhu not only offers a variety of “open faced” gyoza with a Thai twist to ‘have fun’ with, but also refreshing Chinese-style herbal drinks like winter melon punch and Wong Lo Kat that pairs very well with their gyoza.
The vendor is small in comparison to the average food vendor, but the food is delicious. Mrs. Moo, the owner of Feng Zhu, walked towards us and greeted us with her gracious hospitality while we were trying the ‘Three Kingdom’ gyoza with shrimp roe topping (optional). We chatted briefly and asked some of the standard questions before learning about the company’s history. She spoke with us and shared some history about the restaurant and how her vendor got started, and it turns out that… everything began after she quit her full-time job at, ironically, the hotel next to her vendor, to start her own business. The challenge lies in the limited budget, as she had to make the decision very wisely and make use of all the resources available.
“At first, I was skeptical about the idea,” Mrs. Moo said as she explained the company’s history. “This location used to be a place where no one around here saw any value. They even dump their garbage here, and there wasn’t much to relate to when I was doing market research for Feng Zhu. However, my partner and I thought this was a fantastic location and decided to give it a shot. When the vendor was finished, we ran into another issue: the passerby still had no idea what our business was about, so my partner and I worked hard to figure out how we could attract people who walked by.”
Mrs. Moo also discussed how everyone believes that gyoza must be fried and how she defied all expectations. The gyoza at Feng Zhu are steamed rather than fried, and the fillings are filled with flavors other than the original gyoza flavors, resulting in a distinct texture flavor that can only be found here. Most importantly, we have a wide variety of toppings to experiment with.
“We realized after the trial period that there had to be some kind of a sign to draw people in, and we did. We created the neon sign, and everything paid off thanks to organic word of mouth from locals who stopped by for a quick bite to eat.”
“But that’s not the end of the story. All I had in mind at the time was to provide something good and unique in terms of both taste and experience. Many people praised the food, and that was the end of it. I was pleased, and I believed the company was successful.” She continued. “We’re doing fine. And that is more than we asked for.”
“Then, out of nowhere, a celebrity posted photos of our vendor on Instagram, and we became overnight celebrities. Everything about the location, the atmosphere, the taste of the food, and the mystery of the Si Phraya Pier itself draws people in. We’ve been going for three years before you know it. We were so successful that we even survived the outbreak.”
In addition to the impeccable taste, we noticed a group of teenagers and tourists taking selfies with the vendor. It has the vibe of one of those Hong Kong-style restaurants in a cyberpunk anime, with elements like Hong Kong-style decoration and a neon sign that lights up at night. Even though the vendor appeared to have been there for a long time due to its tired appearance (given that everything they purchased to furnish the space was secondhand) and sometimes, the long lines of customers who appear to be familiar with the business could mislead you to believe that they’ve been there since forever. Let us remind you that the business has only been there for three years.