Honestly, I never thought highly of katsu (deep-fried breaded pork cutlet) and filed it under greasy food to eat on the skinkansen or when you take a lunch break at a rest stop on your way out to the boonies.
The picture above is a bowl of katsu don I took while having lunch in Nagano. It was pretty tasty but I couldn’t look at pork for awhile after that. I also feel it has an image where men and teeangers chow down on the stuff because it’s cheap and yummy.
But there is very good katsu to be had restaurant-style and there’s a lot more to it than just dousing everything in tonkatsu sauce. For a lesson on excellent katsu, head to tonkatsu joint Shunkoutei in Akasaka-mitsuke.
This classy corner served wine with chic jazz tunes murmuring in the background and you do anticipate some special nosh coming your way.
To kick things off, tiny cream cheese toasted bread slivers made their way to the table.
And then came a big platter of Japanese pickles and a variety of pate. The flavors were fairly delicate and Japanese in nature; even the meat chunks that sat on a bed of lightly marinated red cabbage leaves.
We decided not to order rice and I’m glad we didn’t because the katsu dishes were generous in size.
Some people may think deep-frying oysters are a shame but the juicy, sea taste is still preserved under the breading and I was sorry to have my last bite.
The lemon tar tar was definitely a high-class sauce with chunks of pickles, mayo, and other mysterious herbs that made it taste oh-so-scrummy.
Do give the strange-looking froth a go because it’s also delicious with seafood katsu. It’s actually whipped soy and it gives a light, salty punch to your seafood fry.
The star of the show was the black pork katsu. I don’t know how it could remain so tender despite having been dunked in hot, boiling oil. Try dipping your katsu into some salt as it gives it a completely different flavor.
I realized that there is a subtle art to deep-fried food — the secret to not feeling you have overdosed on oil is the feather-light bread crumbs and the different dips. You will find that your katsu meal just transforms into a much more colorful culinary experience.
Unless you’re a big eater, katsu will fill you up in no time. We rolled out of there without dessert and wondered how anyone could stomach their multi-course set that includes an appetizer, soup, seafood, pork, rice, dessert, coffee or tea.
Highly recommended to those bringing out friends, family, or business associates who aren’t so keen on Japan’s funkier offerings.
Address: 2-17-69 Akasaka, Muto Corpo Blg, 1F (Just tucked away on the left of the big sqaure at Prudential Tower; opposite Citibank)
Opening hours: 11.15am – 2.30pm; 5.15 – 9.30pm (L.O.)
Closed on Sundays