A fried pork cutlet, fillet and loin, that is usually served with cabbage, pickles, rice, and miso soup. There are two sauces you can typically have with your cutlet, a tatar style one and the Japanese version of Worcestershire sauce. Japan’s Worcestershire sauce is thicker and a tad sweeter than what you would have at steakhouses in America. Tonkatsu is very popular and when done well it is delicious. There are a number of chain restaurants that make great tonkatsu, so don’t discriminate because it is found everywhere. Malls in Tokyo often have good tonkatsu places and it is a fantastic lunch for an afternoon of shopping.
The biggest difference between menchi-katsu and tonkatsu lies in the meat. Menchi-katsu is ground meat with onions and pepper that is fried, instead of the cutlet. Pork and beef are the common types and it is common for the two to be mixed. You can get them in restaurants and bentos, but it is also popular to get them on the street at stores and eat it on the go. Definitely a heavy food compared to most Japanese food options, but it is really good and goes well with beer.
Katsudon is very popular in Japan. It consists of a fried pork cutlet over rice that is covered in egg and various condiments; depending on the spin each restaurant gives it. Again, a surprisingly heavy dish that Japanese people love. It is pretty common for popular dishes to get the egg treatment since the Japanese are big fans of eggs, raw or cooked. Be picky with your katsudon restaurant choice, because it is not as easy to pull this one off well. A good katsudon is magical and a bad one can upset your stomach for the rest of the day.
Katsu Curry かつカレー
Essentially a tonkatsu fried cutlet served with Japanese curry and rice. Japanese curry is thick in texture and sweeter than most other Asian curries. Spicy food is unpopular in Japan, so don’t expect spicy curry. It’s almost as if some drunk businessman came up with the idea of katsu curry after a long night out and needed something to sop up all the alcohol. If you like Japanese curry and tonkatsu, then you will be super happy with this unconventional marriage.
Ryan’s Rant: My 2 Yen
Katsu Japanese Food
As an American living in Japan, the katsu fried dishes are right up my alley. Whenever relatives or friends visit me and they are not adventurous eaters, I take them to get tonkatsu. It is one of the most accessible Japanese food options you can find. I live in Tokyo and my favorite tonkatsu place is a chain restaurant high up in a department store next to Ikebukuro station called Tonkatsu Wakou. The view of Tokyo from the 12 floor is awesome and so is the food. Highest recommendation.