A reflection of East and West heritages, tonkatsu is one of the most beloved dishes in Japan. They may look like another fried dish but these beautiful pork cutlets are seasoned well with salt and pepper, breaded perfectly with flour and breadcrumbs, and then deep fried until it achieves its familiar golden brown hue. It offers two distinctive cuts: the lean fillet which is invigorating and clean-tasting and the more popular one, the fattier loin which is bursting with flavors once you take a bite of it. The thicker and fattier the pork is, the better. A serving of tonkatsu is best enjoyed with its delicious sauce which is basically made of ketchup, soy sauce, and Worcestershire sauce. This sauce also comes in its spicy variant for those who like a little kick of spiciness in their pork cutlet. The best thing about ordering and having tonkatsu is that it’s a filling complete meal, gracing you with rice, miso soup, side dishes such as thinly slices of cabbages and pickled vegetables. You can also have tonkatsu in a different way called katsudon. The tonkatsu is cooked once more in a special sauce made with sweet sake and soy sauce along with a beaten egg and is served on top of rice. Whether you’re making one in the comforts of your own home or ordering it up in a restaurant, tonkatsu will always be one of the best go-to meals in Japan.
So without further ado, belly up as you get to taste both of the best worlds in our selected six best restaurants in Tokyo to get your tonkatsu cravings.
6 Best Tonkatsu Restaurants in Tokyo
Classy and has been around for three generations, Enraku (6-22-7 Shinbashi, Minato-ku Tokyo) is a family-owned restaurant which serves one of the best tonkatsu meals in the city. Located in the business district between Tokyo Tower and Hamarikyu Gardens, Enraku specialized in serving glorious tonkatsu meals to working-class people, locals, and tourists. Their bestseller is their rosu katsu teishoku, which is a feast of crispy tonkatsu, rice, pickled vegetables, potato salad, shredded cabbage, and hot miso soup. Top your tonkatsu with their Japanese mustard and katsu sauce and you’ll be in a deep food coma for consuming the delicious meal. Aside from their tonkatsu meal, they also serve katsudon which is another pork dish variety that everyone must try.
Ponchi-ken (2-8 Kanda-Ogawamachi, Chiyoda-ku Tokyo) always has a long queue of working-class people lining up for their tonkatsu but if you’re patient enough to stand and wait for your turn to be seated, it’ll all be worth it. It’s always been recommended to order the set meals because of its unlimited serving of shredded cabbage, miso soup, rice and pickled vegetables. Their rosu katsu is their bestseller and it’s unlike any of the pork cutlets you’ve had in your life. As soon as you take your first bite of their rosu katsu, you’ll immediately feel bliss because of how juicy and meaty it is. You can even opt to order their thicker cutlets, which is juicier in each bite, or maybe mix things up with their special sauces to make your tonkatsu meal unique in every way.
Tonki (1-1-2 Shimomeguro, Meguro-ku Tokyo) opened in late 1930’s and has been serving honest to goodness tonkatsu meals ever since. Upon arrival, you’ll be greeted by an open and spacious kitchen where you can watch the chefs move freely as they prepare and make delicious meals for their guests. You can choose to sit on the long countertop seats on the ground floor or maybe prefer the second-floor seatings. A staff will come to you to get your order and an English menu is provided if requested. There’s two sumptuous selection of tonkatsu meal that you can order: rosu katsu which is fattier and hire katsu which has a lean and fresh taste. They are both breaded, equally delicious and the trimmings are kept to get that extra flavor. Accompanied with rice, dip your tonkatsu pieces in their signature blob of fiery mustard and have a taste of their popular tonjiru (pork and miso soup), which is great with the tonkatsu.
A culinary experience indeed, tonkatsu is something you shouldn’t miss when visiting the land of the rising sun and in Narikura (Ozawa Bldg B1F, 1-32-11 Takadanobaba, Shinjuku-ku Tokyo), expect to be blown away with their tonkatsu meals. The restaurant can only accommodate 20 people inside and it can get pretty crowded for the whole day. The reward for waiting in long queues is their beautifully cut pork cutlet which has different kinds of high-quality meat, depending on availability. You can choose between rosu katsu or hire katsu but if you’re feeling quite fancy, you can order the heirloom version of their tonkatsu which is a bit more expensive but worth it. The meal comes with potato salad, tsukemono pickles, rice, and tonjiru soup. But their bestselling tokujo rosu is what makes people come back to Narikura. It’s decadent and fatty without being greasy and each bite unravels that glorious juicy and soft meat inside. Truly a heavenly dish.
What’s amazing about Sugita (3-8-3, Kotobuki, Taito-ku, Tokyo) is how affordable yet authentic their tonkatsu meals. It is now owned by a second-generation owner-chef and they use fresh domestic pork which is thinly cut, breaded well, and fried in a special exported lard from Holland until it’s golden brown. This mouth-watering dish is popular among their female patrons who prefer their pork loins sophisticatedly thin but surprisingly juicy. It also doesn’t hurt that the place has this classic vibe with the wooden interior, perfect for those who come in big groups of family and friends. You can even watch the chefs prepare and make your tonkatsu meal in their open kitchen, giving you that perfect view of fine culinary experience.
When selecting meat, one must always keep in mind about the quality of it and in Hirata Bokujo Coredo (4F Coredo Nihonbashi, 1-4-1 Nihonbashi, Chuo-ku, Tokyo), you’re guaranteed to have the best meat in the city and what’s more amazing about this is that they actually have their own breed of pigs in the northern side of Yamagata prefecture. They call it hiraboku sangen ton. Located in the center of Nihonbashi district, the restaurant is accessible and boasts of carefully cut and deliciously fried tonkatsu meals which, strangely enough, best paired with their wide selection of beers. The restaurant gives off that relaxed vibe, akin to an izakaya where you can dine and drink with family and friends.
She’s cooking and baking for her family and friends. She finds grocery shopping therapeutic, always takes the longest time in the Asian section and debates with herself whether she needs that extra pack of instant ramen. A lover of sweets, she dreams of owning a patisserie and publishing her book but most of the time, she’s just really thinking of what to eat for breakfast the next day.