Authentic ‘tonkatsu,’ inside and outside the mallBy Sandy Daza
Philippine Daily Inquirer
When Japanese cuisine was first introduced to me, one of the dishes that caught my attention was tonkatsu. This is boneless pork chop, breaded with panko, or Japanese breadcrumbs, then deep-fried to a crunch. Served with sweet-and-sour dark sauce, this became one of my favorite Japanese dishes.
I remember regularly visiting Gallerie Les Champs at the Champs Elysees in Paris years ago just to have a tonkatsu sandwich at the Japanese-run food store, St. Germain. It was a tonkatsu stuck between two slices of whole wheat bread with lettuce and mayo. Even if the pork was no longer crunchy, I still had a regular craving for it.
Different flavors, textures
Today, many of us can make tonkatsu at home, and many restaurants, Japanese or not, include it on their menus. I would hear stories about how the tonkatsu sold on the streets of Japan was so different from the ones I have tried on our shores.
This was hard to imagine at first but since Yabu opened at SM Megamall, I’m inclined to believe it. Yabu is a Japanese restaurant that specializes in the authentic version of tonkatsu. This place has since become an instant hit.
Along the streets of Katipunan, a tonkatsu place opened a few months ago. Originally catering to students, it is now popular among the residents of the area. Katsu Café serves tonkatsu with soup, rice and a limited serving of shredded cabbage. Sarap also.
It also serves a chicken version of the crispy pork chop. I personally prefer the chicken which is also very good. I have also learned to enjoy the seemingly simple Japanese curry sauce with my tonkatsu or its chicken version. Even at Yabu, I love the spicy version of the Japanese curry. The taste grows on you.
Reasonably priced for students, Katsu Café is actually now a family favorite.
Katsu Café is located behind our restaurant Wooden Spoon so when I want something different, I just walk to the back and have a peaceful lunch or dinner of one of my favorite comfort foods. It is a small cozy place with a Japanese theme.
After lunch here, I drive to nearby Esteban Abada St. and have delicious turon (banana roll) sold by a man and his wife. It is a tiny stall right beside a water station. Sarap!
Katsu Café is at 329 B. Gonzales St., Loyola Heights, QC