Tonkatsu deep fried pork cutlet in Japan falls under two categories: fancy and not fancy. The katsu popular with people from abroad, falls into the former category. Special cuts of pork from this one of a kind pig, raised in some mystical farm in the deepest parts of Japan. I even heard there are specialized katsu restaurants which imports ibérico pig (sorry, too lazy to google if it’s true or not).
Now while all the fancy katsu places like Butagumi, Maisen, Bairin, etc. are great, I place more value on traditional katsu and look for tastes and characteristics that have been carried on for almost a century (katsu has been around Japan since the 1800’s).
For me, it’s about how the breading tastes, the balance between the breading to meat ratio, deep frying techniques, the side dishes and of course, the cabbage — if the cabbage is julienned senngiri finely. As for the meat, standard pork in Japan is already high quality, so long the meat is tender, juicy and fatty but not too fatty, I am a very happy katsu eater.
Like sushi, ramen and yakitori, there are hundreds and thousands of katsu eateries, in which the master what we call chef-owners of restaurants and bartender-owner of bars has been focused on cooking katsu for decades.
Only one of these, is Tonkatsu Suzuki in Shirokanedai. Located under an expressway, Tonkatsu Suzuki is a good 10 minute walk away from any of the closest stations.
Its mostly recommended by word of mouth by locals and has a massive cult following and loyal regulars. I read on Tabelog (Japan’s equivalent to Yelp/TripAdvisor), there are people who have been eating there for over 20 years! Insane!!
The master is Suzuki-san, grouchy and a man of very, very, few words. He doesn’t even acknowledge the clientele as they enter or leave the establishment. Always head down, his sole focus is on cooking:
I think his katsu is my favorite katsu on my side of town (Aoyama, Shibuya, Meguro, Nakameguro, Hiroo, Daikanyama, Roppongi areas).
There is no English menu, it’s a bit hard to find, the clientele is all Japanese but if you are interested in trying it anyway, drop this address into Google Maps: 東京都港区白金6-22-18
Tonkatsu Suzuki とんかつすずき 白金大
M – Saturday 11:30am – 9:00pm
Last order for lunch: 2pm