Tonkatsu 豚カツ is the popular Japanese dish of deep-fried breaded pork cutlet, typically served with rice, shredded cabbage along with Japanese Worcestershire sauce.
The usual basic choice diners have to make is between the “hire” or “rosu” for pork cuts.
“Hire” would mean “pork fillet” which is lean pork tenderloin; while “rosu” is “pork roast” which uses a richer cut of pork with a layer of fats along the side.
So “hire” would be leaner and healthier (sometimes more expensive) and “rosu” would be the juicier and fattier.
Here are 10 Japanese restaurants in Singapore for crispy and tender Tonkatsu:
85 East Coast Road, Singapore 428787
Tel: +65 6344 8183
Opening Hours: 12pm – 3pm (Sat, Sun), 6pm – 9:45pm (Tues – Sun), Closed Mon
Katsuya located at East Coast is known to serve one of the best Tonkatsu in Singapore, helmed by Singaporean Chef Kervin Tay.
On the menu are Hire ($24), Rosu ($24), Kaki which are Japanese Oysters ($28), Unagi ($27), Ebi Prawn ($32) to Hokkaido Rosu ($39). They also offer Wagyu Beef Katsu ($65).
Some diners may find the prices slightly on the high side.
Key feature is that premium sunflower oil is used for the deep-frying, with no added MSG and less salt.
I found the pieces light-crunchy with a rich, tender bite yet not particularly oily. Special mention to both the tonkatsu and sesame sauces.
The standard was still there even after I revisited after many years apart.
Hajime Tonkatsu & Ramen
1 Maju Avenue, myVillage @ Serangoon Garden, #02-07/8/9, Singapore 556679
Tel: +65 6509 9952
Opening Hours: 11:30am – 2:45pm, 5pm – 9:30pm (Mon – Sun)
Hajime is Japanese for “beginning” and the short form for “Hajimemashite” which means “Nice to meet you!”.
Chef Tan-San is Singapore’s first Tonkatsu Chef after mastering the art of Tonkatsu in Japan. He returned to Singapore to lead the kitchen of Tonkichi and later on became the Pioneer Chef of the famous Tampopo.
Experience his 25-year culinary mastership through signature dishes at affordable prices, like the exquisitely juicy and tender Premium Pork Loin ($22.90 for set, $18.50 ala carte) using air-flown Japanese pork.
Other Tonkatsu items include Nagoya Miso Fillet ($19.90), Nagoya Miso Loin ($19.90), Pork Loin ($18.90), Pork Fillet ($18.90), Ebi & Pork Fillet ($19.90), Ebi Fry ($18.90) and Chicken Katsu ($17.50). Prices indicated are for sets.
It is coated with freshly made breadcrumbs for that extra crunch, served with miso sauce from Nagoya and some finely shredded refreshing cabbage.
Each order comes with a bowl of Niigata rice, Tonjiru soup, and ground roasted sesame.
7 Wallich St, Guoco Tower #01-06, Singapore 078884
Tel: +65 6822 7912
Opening Hours: 11:30am – 2:30pm, 5pm – 9pm (Mon – Sun)
The original Imakatsu at Roppongi was previously recommended as a Bib Gourmand restaurant under the Michelin Guide Tokyo 2015.
The restaurant known for three things: special cooking method of double-frying the food items; original sauces; and carefully selected ingredients.
Imakatsu has a special frying method and uses original blended oil which helps to seal in the full taste and aroma of the pork.
Specialty items include Premium Pork Loin Cutlet Zen ($23.80), Pork Fillet Cutlet Zen ($19.80), Mentaiko Loin Cutlet Zen ($21.80), Chicken Fillet Cutlet ($14.80) and Pork Loin Cutlet Curry ($21.80)
Some reasons why I liked Imakatsu: the free-flowing sliced crisp fresh cabbage accompanied with fragrant goma sauce (simple pleasures); the combination of light crisp of the breaded crumbs matched with tender pork, all with a thin layer of fats.
Tonkatsu by Ma Maison
333A Orchard Road, #02-35 & #02-36 Mandarin Gallery, 238897
Tel: +65 6733 4541
Opening Hours: 11am – 2:30pm, 5:30pm – 10pm (Mon – Fri), 11am – 10pm (Sat – Sun)
This concept is by Ma Maison, known for their Japanese-Western cuisine, and gorgeous Japanese fruit tarts.
The recommended at Tonkatsu by Ma Maison is the Kurobuta Rosu Katsu (from $33.80) which is finely aged for several days before they are ready to be served.
The succulent and robust pork cutlet can be eaten by itself, or paired with homemade sweet or spicy Tonkatsu sauce.
If you are a fan of thick slices of pork, the tonkatsu was at least 2cm thick. Imagine the mouthful when sinking your teeth into the thick slab of tender lightly-salted pork slice.
Worthy of mention is that the white and multigrain rice is cooked Kamado style which is a traditional Japanese cooking method, emitting a distinct fragrant.
There is also free flow rice, cabbage and tonjiru soup.
391 Orchard Road, #B2-33 Takashimaya Shopping Centre, Singapore 238872
Tel: +65 6235 2318
Opening Hours: 11am – 10pm (Mon – Sun)
People know Tampopo as the Japanese restaurant serving Tonkatsu. It is so named after the Dandelion flower, which stays strong and beautiful even in tough environments, and the Japanese comedy Tampopo, about a ramen seller who overcame all odds.
The owner has the nickname of “Father of Tonkatsu”.
Items include the Top Grade BP Tonkatsu Set ($31), USA Pork Loin Tonkatsu Set ($21.30), Kurobuta Loin Tonkatsu Set ($31.80), to a Less Fat BP Loin Cutlet Set ($28.70).
What’s interesting is also the inclusion of layered Tonkatsu pork which is popular in Yokohama, but not so commonly seen in Singapore. There are also mentaiko, Takoyaki and cheese layered cutlets.
The usual tonkatsu involves frying the entire piece of breaded pork, while the layered cutlet lines thinly sliced pork together into a single cutlet and deep fried.
The result – you don’t get a tough piece of meat and instead a lighter and leaner version which does not feel as heavy.
391 Orchard Road, Ngee Ann City, #04-24 Takashimaya, 391 Orchard Rd, S.C, 238872
Tel: +65 6735 7522
Opening Hours: 11am – 3pm, 5pm – 10pm (Mon – Thurs), 11am – 10pm (Fri – Sun)
Tonkichi can be considered as the pioneer of Tonkatsu specialty restaurants in Singapore, as it was apparently the first when started in 1992.
They have 2 kinds of tonkatsu meat—pork fillet and pork loin, all carefully selected and trimmed.
Offerings include Hire Katsu Set ($22), Rosu Katsu Set ($22), Hire & Rosu Katsu Set ($28), Organic Chicken Katsu Set ($23), and Organic Chicken Katsu Set ($23).
Apparently, their pork fillet can be cut even with just chopsticks.
Go for the Premium Rosu Katsu Set with deep fried pork loin ($36 for Iberico, $32 for Miyazaki, $30 for Kurobuta) with a good later of fat and tender texture, served with rice, miso soup, cabbage and pickles.
100 Tras Street, 100AM #03-13, Singapore 079027
Tel: +65 6904 4032
Opening Hours: 11:30am – 3pm, 5:30pm – 10pm (Mon – Sun)
Saboten is one of the largest Tonkatsu chains with over 500 stores worldwide specialising in Katsu.
From Loin Katsu Gozen ($24.50), Tenderloin Katsu ($24), Grated Radish Loin Katsu Gozen ($21.50), to Chicken Katsu Don Gozen ($19) have your fill on meals skilfully battered and fried.
Rice used is 100% Uonuma Koshihikari rice imported from Japan, milled to order so that it is light and fluffy.
The special tonkatsu sauce is said to be made of 10 different spices and onions, carrots, tomatoes and apples to bring out the best flavour.
If you love your cheese, have the Nigiwai Loin & Cheese Tenderloin Katsu Gozwn ($24.50) plate with a mixture of Half Pork Loin Katsu and Cheese Tenderloin which is crispy on the outside, oozy in the middle.
1 Kim Seng Promenade #01-113/114 Great World City, Singapore 237994
Tel: +65 6977 9815
Opening Hours: 11am – 10pm (Mon – Sun)
Those who miss Ginza Anzu which was previously from Japan Food Town at Wisma Atria, would be delighted to know that the tonkatsu specialist has reopened at the revamped Great World.
Ginza Anzu is a farm-to-table concept eatery originally from Kyushu, famous for their slabs of Tonkatsu.
They are known to prepare their tonkatsu dishes with fresh ingredients mainly imported from Kyushu, while pork is sourced from US and Canada.
As their parent company is a meat wholesaler, the selection process of the pork is said to be more stringent, with some meats going through a unique ageing process.
Some of their signature items include Ginjo Pork Fillet Katsu Set ($32.00), Ebi Fry (Deep Fried Shrimp) & Pork Fillet Katsu Set ($33.00), Pork Loin Katsu Curry ($24), and Pork Fillet Katsu Curry ($26).
While I found the pork to have a lovely crispy golden panko crust, the texture was a tad dry and not as ‘spectacular’ or expected for the price paid.
All the peripherals were of good quality, from the fluffy rice (they use traditional cauldron to cook the Japanese rice), range of sauces, to crunchy cabbage.
Millenia Walk #01-88/89, 9 Raffles Blvd, Singapore 039596
Opening Hours: 11am – 9pm (Mon – Sun)
This is a casual Japanese eatery that serves made-to-order Tonkatsu, Japanese Curry Rice and Katsu Sando – breaded pork smeared lightly in mustard and nestled between slices of soft, white bread.
Served with potato wedges and boiled broccoli, I won’t say that the pork cutlet pieces of the Katsu Curry Teisyoku ($18) were ultra-crispy, but were dependable, flavourful and tender enough. Note that the pork used was more to the lean side.
The prices are nett, and have barely increased over the years.
78 Airport Blvd, Jewel Changi Airport #01-223 224 / 225, Singapore 819666
Tel: +65 6243 2466
Opening Hours: 12pm – 9pm (Mon – Thurs), 11:30am – 10pm (Fri – Sun)
The 140-seater restaurant at Jewel Changi Airport is operated by the JR East Group, which also runs Japan Rail Café at Tanjong Pagar Centre.
Its four-season concept menu is designed by Suju Masayuki Restaurant.
The Mixed Katsu ($34) will allow you to get 4 types of breaded deep-fried items in one dish.
This comes with a combination of pork, chicken, pork & chicken, and shrimp croquette.
Katsu is the shortened form of katsuretsu, the transliteration of the English “cutlet”, and also a type of Yōshoku.
The quality hallmark of these 4 items is the golden, crunchy exterior that coats each piece, a result of a properly executed breading and deep-frying process. Served with finely shredded cabbage and a thick tonkatsu sauce.
My favourite was the shrimp croquette, crispy with a surprisingly melty-soft centre.
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