Juicy, Crunchy & Satisfying
Deep-fried pork cutlets served with sauce, rice and cabbage are among Japan’s most‐loved comfort foods.
Konnichiwa Japanese Restaurant’s Tonkatsu Set comes with a generous portion of juicy pork loin. No wonder so many customers become regulars at this humble and cosy Japanese restaurant.
Since tonkatsu is such a simple dish, it relies heavily on premium cuts of meat. You want a tender cut of pork (ton), marbled with fat. Loin and rib chops are both good options.
This hot Japanese mustard (much hotter than English mustard!) is ground from a blend of pure mustard seeds, without additives such as flour or vinegar. The powder is then mixed with hot water to work it into a thick paste. (in the right side of the plate)
Made by baking crustless Japanese-style white bread (shokupan) using an electric current, then grinding it into coarse flakes, panko absorbs little oil during cooking and stays crisp and light.
Tonkatsu sauce is a thick and sweet Japanese take on Worcestershire sauce. It is also sometimes called “bulldog sauce” in reference to Bull‐Dog, one of the first companies to manufacture it. Purées of apples and tomatoes are behind the sweet taste.
Only a little over a century old, tonkatsu has become one of Japan’s most popular “Western-style” meals.
Tonkatsu is a popular deep-fried, panko-crusted pork cutlet—most often fillet or loin—served with shredded cabbage and rice. The pork is most often served thinly sliced, ready to be devoured with your chopsticks. Rice is usually served on the side and sauces are mandatory.
The world has Chef Motojiro Kida to thank for “discovering” tonkatsu. Pork became very popular in Japan at the end of the 19th century, and Chef Kida had the idea to cook this newly popular Western food (yoshoku) in the style of traditional Japanese tempura. After playing around with different crusts, Chef Kida decided to try covering the various cuts of pork in Japanese breadcrumbs—panko—which stay crisp when deep-fried, absorbing minimal oil in the deep-frying process. Chef Kida first introduced this dish at his Tokyo restaurant, Rengatei (which is still serving up tonkatsu to this day), and by the early 1900s had settled on what he believed was the perfect match for the pork cutlet: sliced raw cabbage and Japanese Worcestershire sauce. The craze caught on, and soon many Tokyo restaurants were serving up this hot new dish, which had by then been named “tonkatsu,” short for tonkatsuletu—literally “pork cutlet.” Chefs and home cooks celebrated this dish, which gained popularity as comfort food at its best, and particularly creative chefs have come up with various versions of this dish over the years.
As is the case with many Japanese foods, there are restaurants specializing in cooking and serving tonkatsu. Wako and Maisen are two such restaurants, and are almost worth the trip to Japan just to visit (especially if you are a hardcore tonkatsu fan!).
A few notes for home cooks: since tonkatsu is a simple dish with few ingredients, you want to make sure the ingredients you use are high-quality. So, splurge on a nicely marbled cut of pork and make certain your cabbage is as crunchy as possible (if preparing at home, this can be achieved by soaking the sliced cabbage in ice-cold water before serving). Other ingredients are flour, egg, panko, oil, tonkatsu sauce, salt and pepper. One of the tricks for achieving great tonkatsu is to double‐fry the pork. Deep-frying a second time leads to supreme crispiness on the outside and juicy, moist meat on the inside. Ahhhh!
Pork Tenderloin Katsu: House-made panko is the key to the crispiness
The golden-brown panko coating the juicy meat is made fresh every morning. Enjoy the outer crispness and inner tenderness with original tonkatsu sauce made with more than 25 ingredients. With all this yumminess and a bowl of soba on the side, it’s a steal at $14.50!
520 Bloor St. W., Toronto | 416-537-9000
Mon–Thurs 11:30 am–2:30 pm, 4:30 pm–10 pm • Fri–Sat 11:30 am–10 pm Sun 11:30 am–9 pm
Katsu Curry, a combination of tonkatsu and Japanese curry, is one of the most popular pork cutlet dishes in Japan. Brian, Kaiju’s owner, uses high-quality ingredients to achieve perfectly crispy tonkatsu. The dish is completed with Japanese curry that takes Brian two days to prepare.
The Shops at Aura, #51 Lower Food Court, 384 Yonge St., Toronto
647-748-6338 | www.kaijutoronto.com
Mon–Fri 11 am–8 pm • Sat 12 pm–8 pm • Sun closed
“Nothing special” is what Chef Matsuyama of Konnichiwa says. But once you try their Katsu Don, you’ll beg to differ. Tasting just like the tonkatsu served in Japan, this Katsu Don is one of the popular menu items at this long-established Japanese restaurant.
31 Baldwin St., Toronto | 416-593-8538 | konnichiwa.ca
Mon–Sat: Lunch 11:30 am–2:30 pm, Dinner 5 pm–9:30 pm Sun closed
Fune Japanese Restaurant
This established sushi restaurant offers a juicy tonkatsu plate featuring about 10 oz. of pork loin that is cooked to perfection—and, yes, you can ask for a takeout container to bring some home. Customized for Canadian diners, this dish has everything you’re looking for.