Vitals on the Vittles - Simultaneously crispy and juicyIf you think you've had enough sushi and soba for a year, or need something a little more substantial, it's time to try tonkatsu. Tonkatsu is hearty, carnivorous food, usually served as "teishoku," or a set plate, accompanied by miso soup, pickles, and cabbage salad.
Tonkatsu is a classic example of "yoshoku," or western cuisine that Japanese have interpreted in a unique way and made their own. Tonkatsu was invented in the 19th century version of pork cutlets, though Tonkatsu is breaded and deep-fried. Slices are 1 to 2 centimeters thick and sliced into chopsticks-manageable-sized pieces.
Relishing tonkatsu >>Find Tonkatsu RestaurantsBefore biting into your tonkatsu, ladle some special tonkatsu sauce (similar to Worcestor sauce) on the cutlet and shredded cabbage. Tonkatsu sauce can usually be found on the side of your table. Many restaurants have their own secret recipe for their sauce which they guard very closely - you'll find subtle differences in taste between each tonkatsu restaurant you visit. Ingredients often include sugar and sake. If you order Japanese style cutlet, grated Japanese radish and ponzu, a watery citrus-based sauce with a tart flavor, are served. If you prefer, use these instead of tonkatsu sauce, but only for the cutlet. Keep the tonkatsu sauce for the shredded cabbage. You can also find a spicy mustard on the side of your table.
It is popular for Japanese to eat tonkatsu before the entrance examination of college or very important business. Because “katsu” is the same pronunciation of “katsu” or “win” in Japanese. Thus, tonkatsu has a following among young businessmen and college hopefuls.
Perhaps another, more practical reason for tonkatsu's popularity is that it's not hard on the wallet. First off, portions in tonkatsu restaurants are enormous. You aren't likely to leave hungry. Second, the best kept secret in tonkatsu joints is the phrase "okawari." At most tonkatsu restaurants, you can ask for another bowl of rice, more cabbage or another ladle-full of miso soup. The magic phrases are, "rice okawari", "cabbage okawari", or "miso shiru okawari." Best of all, these second helpings are on the house.
Although you can have tonkatsu anytime, we recommend that you have it for lunch, since it's usually cheaper before dinner.
Rosu katsuLoin cutlet. The loins are between the lower ribs, which have pork fat. Cheaper than Fillet Cutlet.
Hire katsuFillet cutlet from tenderloin. This cut is more popular among the health conscious because it has less fat than Loin Cutlets.
Wafu rosu katsu, or wafu hire katsutJapanese style cutlets. Try this cut with grated Japanese radish and ponzu (ポン酢), Yummy and healthy.
KatsudonTonkatsu rice bowl. As the name might lead you to believe, this is a bowl of rice topped with a deep-fried pork cutlet, egg, and garnishes. Very popular among college students and younger people because while the portion is large, but it can still be eaten quickly.
Tonkatsu twists >>Find Tonkatsu Restaurants
Katsu curryCurry and tonkatsu served over rice. If you can't decide between tonkatsu and curry, go for katsu curry!
Katsu sandoA sandwich with tonkatsu smothered in Worcester sauce, served on thickly sliced bread.
Miso katsuNagoya is famous for miso katsu. As you might expect, the sauce is made from miso.
Kushi katsuJapanese-style deep-fried kabobs. In Japanese, kushi (串) refers to the skewer. They're generally made of katsu, onion, green pepper or other seasonal vegetables, and eaten with Worcester sauce or Ketchup. Generally considered beer's best friend. ⇒List of Kushi Katsu
Kurobuta or black pigKurobuta is a high quality pork which hails from Kagoshima. "Black" refers to the breed name, not the color of the porker. Tonkatsu made from this kind of pork comes with a hefty price tag.
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