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Friday, October 19, 2012

Tonkatsu at Tonki

Rohsu-katsu (fatty loin cutlets), cabbage, tonkatsu sauce and mustard
Miso soup
The meal: rice, pickles, rohsu-katsu, miso, tea, beer
Tonkatsu master no. 1
Tonkatsu master no. 2
Tonkatsu master no. 2 and minions
Entrance "tonkatsu"
LOCATION: Tonki, 1-1-2 Shimo-Meguro, Meguro-ku, Tokyo
CATEGORY: Japanese, tonkatsu 
DRINK: Beer and tea 
WE THINK: Opinions are divided over where to find the best tonkatsu in Tokyo. Locals who enjoy their tonkatsu all seem to have a different favorite among Tokyo's thousands of tonkatsu restaurants but Tonki, the classic 73-year old tonkatsu institution in Meguro, consistently gets a lot of votes. Part of the reason is that the staff, unlike those at other hardcore tonkatsu restaurants, are friendly and accommodating. We experienced this first-hand when we went recently. Not only were they happy to make a meal for our friend ahead of his arrival--they also offered to make him a new meal when he finally showed up late, free of charge, as the old one in their opinion wasn't perfect anymore. The pork (either Hire-Katsu which is made from lean fillet cutlets or Rohsu-katsu made from fairly fatty loin cutlets) is prepared by 2 master chefs. The first (in his 70s) is responsible for coating the cutlet in egg and flour and panko bread-crumbs. The second (in his 80s or 90s) deep-fries the cutlets in giant vats of oil and slices them, bare hands on sizzling meat. These tasks seem pretty simple but are reserved for only the most experienced chefs, while the minions get to plate the tonkatsu and cabbage and serve miso soup (filled with fatty pork) and rice. That's it, nothing else on the menu. A simple and smooth operation. And it's comfortingly tasty, with lots of tonkatsu sauce and mustard. Eat tonkatsu every day and you'll end up fat as a sumo wrestler--eat it once in a while and you'll just get heartburn. It's worth it.