Katsukura happens to be one of the restaurant chains/tonkatsu outlets that I have set out to try during this November trip to Japan. Having originated from Kyoto itself, there is no better place to have Katsukura other than in Kyoto itself!
Got the heads up about Katsukura from bento.com ….. as well as from the Paul’s Travel Pics link on Kyoto eats here. I have gathered from various online research that their main flagship branch is actually located at Sanjo Street (somewhere near to Gion based on my map). However given my struggles with locating places in Kyoto via bus/walk over the 2-3 days spent in Kyoto, decided that I would just eat at the Kyoto Station branch itstead. Since it is located at The Cube (11th floor of JR Kyoto Staiton, Isetan side) …… it was definitely a way easier task locating this branch since I was already here the day before for ramen (at level 10).
Had a chance to tick this off my to-do list while in Japan on Day 7 …… after having to make an unsceduled trip back to the Yodobashi store at Kyoto Station vicinity to get a new SD card. A late dinner at around 9-plus in the evening.
The menu (in English) ……
Apart from the usual tonkatsu sets, Katsukura also serves a unique Yuba rolled seasonal vegetable cutlet together with the pork fillet. However, did not opt for that. Stuck to a simple tonkatsu set instead. I chose the tenderloin cutlet (which has a bit more fat) and it costed me 1100 JPY only.
If you look at the menu, prices are really reasonable at Katsukura (seems cheaper than Maisen as well) …… And it is highly unlikely that you will end up bursting your wallet even for a bigger portion/better cut of pork 😛
An integral part of a tonkatsu meal apart from the pork fillet itself is the sauces. Unlike most tonkatsu chains/restaurants where the sauces come pre-prepared (you choose either the spicy or sweet one) …. Katsukura sets itself apart with a detailed way of mixing your own sauce to your preference.
Had no idea how to go on about mixing my own sauce (while I look at the diners around me mixing their own). Luckily the restaurant had a set of English instructions which came in handy! There was a original sauce, as well as a spicy sauce which you can mix together (proportion will depend spiciness level you want) …… but before mixing the sauces together, you will need to grind the sesame seeds in the separate bowl 1st. So this is the ‘final product’ ……
Also, there is a separate salad dressing (small brown pot) + japanese prickles (white pot) that you can mix together to eat with the cabbage accompainment. Am really impressed with this small bit of attention to detail even before the meal proper comes!
The pork proper finally came after 10 mins of waiting. Was really famished by then.
The tenderloin cutlet was crispy and well-fried without an ounce of oil (i.e. not oily at all) …… while still retaining the fresh-ness of the pork. Good quality fried food should always be like this (rather than being re-fried again in order to mask the stale-ness of the food). This is definitely one fried meal that you can have huge portions of without feeling sinful 😛 …… However I only ordered the smallest 80g portion as I did not want to overeat given that it was a late dinner (after 9pm).
Another unique part of the meal would be the rice used. Katsukura actually uses barley rice (and not the usual Japanese white rice that has a stickier texture). The barley rice actually feels lighter, and you can have mutiple servings of it without feeling overly full, ha!
Despite being able to have refills of the rice and cabbage, I did not do so as the portions were just exactly nice for a late dinner. What truly differentiates Katsukura from the various Tonkatsu that I have tasted in Japan (Maisen, Katsuretsu An) is the attention to detail – starting from the sauce mixing process, to the barley rice and salad dressing used. Of course for a good tonkatsu meal, the pork quality is of utmost importance as well.
This is definitely one of the best dinners that I had in my trip. And Katsukura gets my vote as one of the best tonkatsu restaurants in Japan as well! In my personal opinion, the dining experience and quality of food even outranks Maisen (which I had back in 2012). Check out my tripadvisor review here.