Saturday, February 23, 2013

Butagumi - They know and love their Buta

Butagumi is a tonkatsu specialist, only pork but a wide selection of pork. I’ve never seen a menu like this and quite honestly, I never knew that there were so many breeds of pork and that tonkatsu can be elevated to this level.

Set in an old timber-frame house with a cute crescent moon cut out that we used to quickly identify that we were in the correct place. Once we made our way to the door, we were greeted by the staff and also all the little piggies on display. We then passed the kitchen, which was from what I remember was a really simple set up, a worktop counter and a fryer and then made it upstairs to sit in one of those little booths but were warned not to lean on the dividers as it was it was an old house (built in 1958).

Butagumi’s menu is insane and this is why this place is different from any other tonkatsu place. It offers a list of close to 30 choices. There isn’t much to choose but there is a lot to choose from. The first is how much fat which will determine the cut of meat - ro
su (sirloin) or hire (fillet). That’s the easy decision. The second decision is more difficult – which breed, which prefecture, light or strong flavor, essentially which gourmet pork you wish to taste.

From the cuts available from that day’s menu, we had two cuts of rosu and two cuts of hire and we elected from the stronger rather than the mild tasting cuts. The only unfortunately thing was that they didn’t have the Tokyo X breed available that day which I was keen to try. Nonetheless this was what we had:
Iberico rosu (Spain)
Daisen Rubby rosu (Tottori)
Hakkin Ton hire (Iwate)

Tsunan hire (Niigata)

The cooking here is very precise. Light crisp batter and the tonkatsu doesn’t greasy or heavy at all. The rosu/sirloin has a fat cap which many would enjoy for its lardy flavor, especially with the Iberico but between the two cuts, much prefer the hire/fillet cut which is leaner and cooked to the perfect degree of doneness where it is crisp light on the outside and the meat remains amazingly juicy. Of all the four cuts, my favourite was the Hakkin Ton hire, where there was a sweet light porky flavor. All that pork comes with rice, pickles and a large serving of cabbage and a citrus dressing to cut through the fat. A very simple lunch of comforting deep fried pork and rice but a completely gourmet and expert take on it from its selections and sourcing of meat to its frying execution, this is tonkatsu on an elevated level.

Butagumi means pig gang. Well, I want in on this gang too, what do you think it takes? Perhaps I need to get an I love pork or I love tonkatsu tattoo? Well, Butagumi, you are THE tonkatsu place.
Butagumi2-24-9 Nishi-Azabu
Tokyo, Japan

Tel: +81-(03) 5466-6775

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