A reflection of Eastern and Western cuisines, tonkatsu is one of the most beloved dishes in Japan. It may look like just 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 that familiar golden-brown hue. It usually comes in 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. For the latter type, the thicker and fattier the pork is, the better.
A serving of tonkatsu is best enjoyed with its delicious sauce, which is made with a combination of fruits and vegetables, more than 10 different spices, soy sauce, sugar, and vinegar for a bit of tanginess. The best thing about tonkatsu is that it’s a part of a complete meal, often served alongside rice, miso soup, and side dishes such as thinly sliced cabbages and pickled vegetables. You can also enjoy tonkatsu as a part of a donburi (Japanese rice bowl) 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 comfort 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, let's delve into our 6 restaurants with the best tonkatsu in Tokyo; they'll be sure to satisfy your tonkatsu cravings.
6 Restaurants with the Best Tonkatsu in Tokyo
3. Tonkatsu Tonki
Tonkatsu Tonki in Meguro opened in the late 1930s 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 you prefer the second-floor seatings. A staff member will come to you to get your order and an English menu is provided if requested. There are two tonkatsu set meals that you can order: rosu katsu which is fattier and hire katsu which is leaner. They are both breaded and fried, equally delicious in different ways, and the trimmings are kept for that extra flavor. Accompanied with rice, dip your tonkatsu pieces in their signature blob of fiery karashi mustard and have a taste of their popular tonjiru (pork and miso soup), which is great with tonkatsu.
A culinary experience indeed, tonkatsu is something you shouldn’t miss when visiting the land of the rising sun and at Narikura in Shinjuku, you can expect to be blown away by their meals, some of the best tonkatsu in Tokyo. The restaurant can only accommodate 20 people inside and it can get pretty crowded. The reward for waiting in long queues is their beautifully cooked pork cutlet, made with different types 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 pork tonkatsu. The meal comes with potato salad, tsukemono pickles, rice, and tonjiru soup.
What’s amazing about Sugita is how affordable their tonkatsu meals are. It is now owned by the second-generation owner-chef and they use fresh domestic pork which is thinly cut, then breaded and fried in specially imported 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 a 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 the culinary experience.
6. Hirata Bokujo Tonkatsu
When selecting meat, one must always keep in mind about the quality of it and at Hirata Bokujo Tonkatsu in Nihonbashi, another restaurant with some of the best tonkatsu in Tokyo, they are dedicated to high-quality meat. What’s more, they actually have their own breed of pigs in northern Yamagata Prefecture. Located in the center of Nihonbashi district, the restaurant is accessible and boasts carefully cut and deliciously fried tonkatsu meals which, strangely enough, are best paired with their wide selection of beers. The restaurant gives off that relaxed vibe, akin to an izakaya where you can feel at ease dining and drinking all evening.