The Charms of Tonkatsu! A Must-Try Dish When Visiting Japan

Tonkatsu is a dish that stands out among many of Japan’s popular dishes. This article introduces the charms of this dish, as well as various ways to enjoy it apart from eating it on its own.

What is Tonkatsu?

Tonkatsu refers to the thick loin or tenderloin of the pig that has been fried in oil after being breaded with flour, beaten eggs, and bread crumbs. This dish is typically served with finely shredded cabbage on the side. Tonkatsu is known for its crunchy texture and delicious pork flavor.
Tonkatsu is usually eaten with tonkatsu sauce, which is a thick and fruity type of Worcester sauce. Another alternative to this would be shredded radish ponzu (a sauce made with citrus juices).

Dishes That Include Tonkatsu

Aside from eating tonkatsu on its own, there are other ways to enjoy it. This article introduces 5 popular dishes that include tonkatsu, as well as where you can try them. Please give them a go!

Tonkatsu Teishoku (Set Meal)

Those looking to enjoy tonkatsu a-la-carte are recommended to try the Tonkatsu Teishoku. This set meal usually comes with rice, miso soup, and pickled vegetables.
While you may typically find this in any Japanese restaurant, please try visiting a restaurant that specializes in this dish. They pay special attention to how the dish is prepared and are sure to use only the best quality meat and oil! Many stores carry their own original sauce or allow you to choose your preferred condiment.

Katsudon (Pork Cutlet Bowl)

Katsudon is considered the most popular take on tonkatsu. The dish is prepared by boiling onions and tonkatsu in soy sauce, sake and sugar, and then adding egg. The finished product is then placed on top of rice. You may find this dish topped with honeywort, chopped leeks or seaweed.
You can find katsudon at restaurants that specialize in tonkatsu or Japanese restaurants, as well as those that offer soba or udon noodles. Another place to find this dish would be at set meal restaurants. Usually the katsudon is topped with egg, but depending on the region, it could be topped with soy sauce, Worcester sauce, or even demi-glace sauce.

Katsu Curry (Pork Cutlet Curry)

Curry rice is a special dish that originated from India and was introduced to Japan by the UK. Adding tonkatsu as a topping transformed it into what people now call “katsu curry”.
You can enjoy katsu curry at many different types of restaurants, including curry, tonkatsu, Japanese, and set meal restaurants.

Katsu Sandwich (Pork Cutlet Sandwich)

A Katsu Sandwich uses tonkatsu as the filling and is usually accompanied by shredded cabbage, with tonkatsu sauce as a condiment. You may also find this sandwich serves with mustard, which highlights the flavor.
This is a typical Japanese sandwich, so you can easily find it at bakeries, convenience stores, supermarkets, and other shops. You may also find good quality katsu sandwiches at tonkatsu specialty restaurants. Restaurants such as the original founder of the dish “Isen” in Ueno, Tokyo, as well as the franchise “Maisen”, are popular places to enjoy this dish.

Katsu Sandwich (Pork Cutlet Sandwich)

3-40-3 Yushima, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo

Kushi Katsu (Pork Cutlet Skewers)

Kushi Katsu is pork that is cut into bite sizes pieces, placed on a stick along with onion (or leek), and then fried after being breaded with flour, beaten eggs, and bread crumbs. Just like tonkatsu, people normally enjoy this dish with sauce.
You may find this at izakayas or tonkatsu specialty restaurants. While there is a dish with the same name in Osaka, the Kushi Katsu introduced in this article is different. The one you may find in Osaka uses other meats or fish, as well as different types of vegetables, all of which are placed individually on sticks and deep-fried. In Nagoya, this dish sometimes refers to food that has been simmered in miso broth.

Just as you've seen in this article, there are many ways to enjoy tonkatsu. You can find this dish not only in restaurants, but also at bento or deli shops, so give it a taste!

*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.

Recommended articles for you

Can't find it in a guidebook? Looking through this app will definitely make you want to go to Japan.
Sightseeing information to make you say "Wow!", updated every day!