NEW JAPANESE RESTAURANT IN GENEVA
SWITZERLAND’S FIRST SAKE BAR
Gyoza No Ho, Geneva
by Alana Dunsmore
Tired of the routine pizza, hamburger or kebab? Us too! We love them, but sometimes we need a change. Especially during COVID times when we can’t travel and exploring different cuisines is a challenge. What better way to add to the menu than authentic sake and yummy gyozas at Geneva’s latest Japanese restaurant!
We’re so excited to finally share this gem of restaurant. We visited the pop-up version in the old town just before lockdown and found out that the owner, Theo, was already planning on opening a permanent location. The food was so yummy we had to go back to find out whether everything was still going according to plan …and ok, we wanted more gyoza!
Theo, local financier turned restaurateur decided to make the jump into the restaurant world to follow his long-time dream to bring Japanese cuisine to Geneva. Theo fell in love with the food and culture while spending time in Japan on an exchange mission. During this time, he lived with a family in a village in Japan. He learned the language (the family did not speak English), culture and food. He loved cooking and this allowed him to learn more about this cuisine.
He decided to return to his love for cooking by opening a restaurant. He wanted to bring authentic Japanese food to Geneva’s because he felt this was something Geneva was lacking. The result is a place for socializing, learning about sake, delicious gyozas and entertaining conversation with friends!
He’s adapted his original approach to fit into the current COVID restrictions, but the main goal is still there. He has created a space for people to come with friends to relax and socialize. The idea is that while you catch up with your friends over some drinks (be it from the wide collection of sake on offer, beers, or wine) you order small bites to share and snack on. Rather than one big meal, you get to sample many small plates, sort of like the Spanish tapas model, but with traditional Japanese nibbles. It’s a big YES from us!
Walking into the restaurant you feel little like you have been transported to a Japanese sake bar. The bar is lined with beautiful, colorful bottles of sake and whiskey. The space feels clean and fresh. There are a lot of personal touches, including hand painted bottles created by Theo’s friend to make the space feel welcoming and fun. For those who prefer alfresco dining, there is an outdoor seating area as well.
THE FOOD – Not everything is from afar
Although I am sure the ingredients are very good in Japan, there is also a need to have fresh ingredients. Theo carefully sources local ingredients to ensure they are fresh and high-quality.
In addition to picking the ingredients, you will find Theo managing the restaurant. Using a friend’s recipe for the gyozas, Theo is very much on hand in the kitchen to ensure dishes continue to be of the best quality.
We have the gyoza lunch set menu. This includes 8 or 12 gyozas, rice and a choice of miso soup or seaweed salad. My partner has the soup and I have the salad. The gyoza choices are chicken, pork or vegetables and shiitake mushrooms. We both do a combination of all three. Everything is absolutely delicious. They are made from a perfectly thin, nearly see-through dough, crispy texture on the outside but full of flavour on the inside. Everything that a gyoza is supposed to be! After the delicious gyozas we have to try some dessert including yomogi daifuku and sakura mochi. These delicate rice-based desserts have sweet fillings that are a wonderful balance to the savoury gyoza. My favourite is yomogi daifuku. We finish our meal with more authentic sake recommended by Theo – a perfect end to our lunch.
I wasn’t a big sake fan and the few times I tried it, it left me underwhelmed. Theo says that’s common and is based on people not being exposed to better quality sake. He wants to change this and notes that high-quality sake is available in Geneva at a reasonable price. Often people think of a strong, over-powering drink but that’s just one kind, there are many others, and similar to wines, some are delicate and smooth, others big and bold in flavour. So do chat to Theo to help you explore the different types of sake.
The restaurant also offers a selection of Japanese beers, local wines and authentic Japanese whiskey and gin.
8 Gyoza Lunch Set Menu 19chf
12 Gyoza Lunch Set Menu 23chf
Mochi 9chf for two pieces
The Gyoza No Ho is a perfect place for a night out with friends for a relaxing evening of catching up over a few glasses of sake. It is also great for a business lunch (service was speedy). The gyozas are so deliciously yummy that you will want to keep coming back for more. It’s a welcome addition to Geneva’s restaurant scene.
35 rue du Zurich