Monday, December 18, 2006

Tonkichi – The Art of Tonkatsu

I was first introduced to Tonkichi tonkatsu by a friend who eats very limited food items. Just to give you an idea, he only eats pizza with cheese and ham and if you ever order a Hawaiian with him, you could be sure he is going to pick all the triangles of pineapple off. So when we do eat together, I usually just relent and let him pick the restaurant because I feel really bad if I choose some place, which I would like to eat at but he might not having anything on the menu that he would eat, or we would be at risk of pissing the chef off because he would only want his ham with cheese and nothing else despite all the beautiful well thought out meal items on the menu.

When we first dined together at a sushi restaurant (that thankfully served other Japanese dishes), I was horrified to find out the only form of sushi he ate was kappa maki, which is the Japanese cucumber sushi. It was only on that day that I learnt the name of that sushi. In fact if not for him I would have never bothered or would have found out. I also learnt on that night that I could never ever suggest us eating at a sushi bar. Other eating behaviours I observed, when we did eat at Japanese restaurants that not only consisted of a sushi bar, was that he would to order the same thing all the time, which was tonkatsu curry don with a request for the tonkatsu sauce, which will be drizzled on his tonkatsu and the curry on his rice and he will also very carefully avoid all the vegetables, especially the shreds of raw cabbage as if he were allergic to it. So when we once went out and he suggested tonkichi, a place that served “super tonkatsu” I knew he had to be on to something. For someone who eats so much tonkatsu, he must have been able to detect something different about the humble piece of breaded pork that was being served in this restaurant. Well, he was absolutely right, and needless to say, he still ordered tonkatsu curry don, drizzled the tangy tonkatsu sauce on his breaded pork loin (his choice because it has a trim of fat that keeps it tender and tasty) and avoided his cabbage. I on the other hand had the tonkatsu of pork loin along with two deep-fried oysters and happily ate my cabbage.

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I personally believe that there is tonkatsu and there is Tonkichi tonkatsu and once you have been tonkichi-ed, it is hard to go back. Here at tonkichi, they have mastered the art and have brought tonkatsu to another level. Tonkatsu is a common dish that is eaten in prepared in most Japanese homes and restaurants, but here at Tonkichi, they have made an art form out of this simple deep-frying craft.

I imagine mastering the craft of cooking the perfect tonkatsu in Japan might be likened to being a sushi chef, where you spend most of your formative years observing before even touching a knife. If you were training to be a tonkatsu specialist, you would spend many years observing how to render the lard in a proper manner and exact temperature, the type of bread crumbs used, and the precise moment that the cutlet should hit the hot fat. The end product, however, is a succulent piece of pork cutlet with a crisp feather-light breadcrumb coat that is fluffy but crunchy that puffs back when you bite into it.

I like restaurants like Tonkichi. The menu is focused and they are clearly really good at what they do instead of being a jack of all trades. So, if you don’t want to eat anything deep-fried or pork for that matter, do not come here, but if you like both and especially deep-fried breaded pork, you are in a good place.

Tonkichi - Isetan Scotts
Shaw House
350 Orchard Road
Level 4, Isetan Scotts
Tel: 68354648

Tonkichi - Takashimaya
Tower A, #04-24
Tel: 67357522

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Joone, There is also a tonkichi restaurant at the basement of suntec city, near the fountain.

11:06 AM  
Blogger tigerfish said...

I remembered that's one at Daimaru as well.

12:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yup, theirs is the best!
I remember when I first "discovered" Tonkichi, I was visiting them almost every weekend, and ordered "Miso Katsu Rosu" every time... until they revamped the menu and made the miso sauce a separate chargable item :(

11:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Umm.. I just want to say I'm a little freaked out by the way you described your friend's dietary preferences.

But thank you for this review!

12:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's not forget the Tonkichi at Suntec which is the only one that serves Asahi DRAFT! =D

6:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi June! Heard from friends that the one at Suntec is better than the other branches though. :-)

5:30 PM  
Blogger Johnny Malkavian said...

Much appreciated. I'm quite anal about my food too, and have not even anything green and leafy in a long time.

Ebi tempura, along with Katsu Curry, is usually the yardstick I measure the quality of japanese restaurants by.

Will be swinging by this afternoon for lunch, which was how I googled this review.

Thanks again!

10:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey June! You should try the restaurant @ the basement level of Liang Court. It serves black pig tonkatsu, which is much better than the tonkatsu served at Tonkichi. Personally enjoy eating at the restaurant @ Liang Court a lot more. Give it a try! It's called Tomton, which is located within the supermarket, Meidi-Ya.

3:16 PM  

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