Kokubunji Tonkatsu Katsura
Katsura is a homey tonkatsu shop about a kilometer north of Kokubunji station on the Chuo line. There is a perpetual line out the door. But the other day while biking by the line was shorter than usual and I joined the queue.
There is a small table in the back and a counter with tight seating. I was seated at the counter with my back to the sliding door entrance. In Japan you get used to the fact that you may have to get up and out of the way, or maybe lean in to allow someone to pass at smaller restaurants like this.
The tonkatsu comes with a generous serving of homemade pickles and a generous serving of julienned cabbage. The tonkatsu is fried in lard and panko crust is lightly colored. The meat is juicy and the portions are generous. As to be found at most tonkatsu restaurants, unlimited rice and cabbage. Budget between 1,500 – 2,000 JPY.
Katsura is only open for lunch. This is an example of a shokunin, doing one thing, and doing it very well. I wouldn’t make a special trip from the city, but if you find yourself in this part of Tokyo, it’s good to have on your radar.
Tonkatsu Katsura とんかつ桂
Tokyo-to, Kodaira-shi, Jōsui Honcho 5-7-20 東京都小平市上水本町5-7-20
Tuesday – Sunday (closed Monday and 3rd Tuesday)
11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Butagumi Shokudō is located in the basement of the Roppongi Hills North Tower. There are about a dozen counter seats and several tables in back at this popular tonkatsu spot. Take-away bento and tonkatsu sandwiches are also available, but the best tonkatsu is eaten right away as it comes out of the deep-fryer. At the counter you can watch as a chef trims away fat from big slabs of pork. The frying is done in the back of the house.
One of the pork used at Butagumi is the Tsubaki Sangenton (椿三元豚) from Chiba. It is a tender, light pork. The aka (dark red) miso soup comes with slippery nameko mushrooms. The salad can be topped with a refreshing yuzu ginger dressing.
The main branch, Butagumi, is in Nishi-Azabu and has a long list of pork to choose from. Consider Butagumi Shokudō (dining hall) the café branch of the honten for an abbreviated menu and a quick meal. The music on a recent day was hits from the 80s from Bruce Springstein and Michael Jackson, which made the meal all the more comfortable.
Butagumi Shokudō 豚組食堂
Minato-ku, Roppongi 6-2-31, Roppongi Hills North Tower B1
In Shinjuku Times Square Building are several restaurant floors. Katsukura for tonkatsu on the 14th floor.
Pickles at Katsukura
Sesame Seeds in a Grinder
Not every tonkatsu restaurant serves the tonkatsu with a mortar and pestle and toasted sesame seeds. Grind the seeds, releasing the aroma of the sesame seeds, and add tonkatsu sauce and then dress your tonkatsu.
Tonkatsu at Katsukura
And the pork, breaded and deep-fried until golden.
There is often a line outside of the restaurant, but it usually moves quickly. If you are in a rush, there are plenty of other restaurants to choose from on the restaurant floors.
Shibuya-ku, Sendagaya 5-24-2, Shinjuku Times Square Building 14th Floor
11 a.m. – 10 p.m. daily, no holidays