In Meguro District there are three tonkatsu (fried pork) restaurants that rule the land. Each and everyone has their characteristics but the most “blue collar” has to be “Katsu Ichi”.
At 12pm you will find this place having a solid line of 5 to 10 people mostly salary men and women from around. Its a great place to observe what current salary men in Japan are like.
The lunch menu consists of very simple choices.
- Roast Katsu which is this more flavorful but certainly more oily option of your pork cut
- The Hire Katsu or lean option that gives you that more meaty texture without too much oil in your palate
- The Curry.
You’d want to get the Roast or Hire here if its your first time.
The beauty of this restaurant is also in the lead up to the meal. The small counter has a row of plates with mountains of cabbage ready to be a landing pad for a freshly fried pork order. The efficient system here gives way to some solid expectation of whats to come.
The dish that is presented in front of you is a full on meal. Comes with a lightly pickled Daikon and Cucumber, white Rice, Miso, and the mash potato salad thats hiding underneath the mountain of cabbage.
What I usually do is pour a good dose of tonkatsu sauce over the pork and sprinkle some vinegar over the cabbage (not typical but what I like). I also add some hot mustard (karashi) on the side.
I first take a bite of the cabbage and I appreciate how thinly sliced the cabbage is and how refreshing its going to be when I eat it after getting into the pipping hot fried pork.
Next the tonkatsu. After that tonkatsu sauce has settled into the tonkatsu, I spread some hot mustard, and pick it up with my chopsticks. I smell the sweet rich fragrance of the tonkatsu sauce with the mixture of the biting spiciness of the hot mustard and dig in.
The first bite is just a nice dose of pork fat and juices followed with a nice crunch. Then a wave of sweet and savory tonkatsu sauce and finally the refreshingly hot mustard that perfectly doesn’t overstay its welcome so not to ruin my next bite.
Whats interesting about eating fried pork here is that its not as crunch as you think. You get that initial crunch but the skin is so thin that its really an “introduction” and nice little texture to the main pork.
If you are looking for tonkatsu in meguro, you gotta come here. It might not be the best to you, but it certainly has character.