This, my friends, is the Chinese family's go-to emergency meal. Pretty cheap, filling, and doesn't take much thought. Dump into pot of boiling water, let it cook, and eat. Well not exactly a set-it-and-forget-it type food but almost. Growing up I learned from listening to Doraemon/Xiao Ding Dang cassette tapes (I'm giving away my age y'all :P) that you're supposed to add some water when it comes to a boil and do that once or twice until it's done.
Trader Joe's actually has a nice selection of ethnically ambiguous dumplings (yes, there's a Thai gyoza line too, so I guess no mystery there). By ethnically ambiguous, I mean it's not really clear what the origin is. For example, if you go to an Asian grocery store, they are very deliberate about distinguishing the Chinese dumplings from the Korean mandoo from the Japanese gyoza. All dumplings, yes, but ethnically distinct, which is why I'm surprised this particular line of dumplings (the gyoza potsticker line) is not marketed under "Trader Ming." Then again, the product name itself is a hodgepodge of Chinese/Japanese/I-don't know-it's-all-Asian-anyway jargon such that it makes it difficult to categorize. Which is strange because Trader Joe's is typically pretty good about categorizing foods under a designated TJ's label - Trader Ming, Trader Joe-San, Trader Jacques, Trader Giotto, etc.
Never mind that the name is also kind of redundant. Like Huang He River actually means Yellow River River. Pork gyoza potsticker. Might as well call it Pork dumpling dumpling. But gyoza and potstickers are currently trendy fusion words with vast appeal to middle America (Proof: TGI Fridays serves Chicken potstickers as an unlimited app y'all). I suppose that's acceptable.
And why did they call it a gyoza potsticker? Not sure, maybe for buzzword marketing, but here's a more helpful description of the gyoza vs. potsticker for your edification.
Picture quality isn't great, but you can see that the chicken on the right is "healthier" for obvious reasons, but both are pretty decent choices; nothing funky noted in the ingredients list). I can tell you instantly, my money is on the pork. In all my years of making dumplings at home with my family, we have never ever used chicken. Nothing wrong with chicken, but pork is usually the dumpling meat-of-choice mostly because it is fattier and more flavorful.
Top row: Boiled
Bottom row: Pan-fried like potstickers per package directions
On the left is the pork and on the right is the chicken. Each package has about 3 servings or 21 dumplings, which means between the two of us we had 42 dumplings. Which is fine because we all know who ate most of them anyway. :P
And the overall verdict? A says surprisingly authentic, and I agree. In fact, they taste better than a lot of supermarket frozen dumplings I've tried, probably because there aren't any strange ingredients or MSG involved. The pork won hands down over the chicken obviously, but the chicken wasn't lacking at all in the flavor department. Sometimes you get a little crunch from the veg, which is a little weird since I'm used to very finely minced vegetables (so fine you can't even find them) in my dumplings but I didn't mind. The skin was on the thinner side, similar to a gyoza but still very typical of frozen dumplings or prepared dumpling wrappers. Homegirl over here is a fan of chewy, thick dumpling skin, and I have yet to find a freezer aisle dumpling that comes close.
The packaging doesn't contain any instructions for dipping sauce, so I'd recommend a combination of soy sauce and a touch of sesame oil. I put in a dash of Chinese vinegar to mine for some acidity. Chili oil, hot pepper flakes, and garlic are good dipping sauce add-ins too.
$2.99 for a 16 oz. package. When my Asian grocery store has a sale, you can get a 20 oz. package for about $3.33, so it's pretty comparable. New freezer staple!
I still think this should have been marked under Trader Ming. It tastes Chinese.
TL;DR: Trader Joe's Pork Gyoza Potstickers. Authentic enough for me and husband approved. 8 out of 10.
TL;DR: Trader Joe's Chicken Gyoza Potstickers. Still authentic but more diet-friendly. 7 out of 10.