Love your Japanese Pork Cutlet? Tonkatsu 豚カツ is the popular Japanese dish of deep-fried cutlet, typically served with rice, shredded cabbage with Japanese Worcestershire sauce.
If you flip through a menu, there are usually the basic choices to make – “hire” or “rosu”?
Well, “hire” would mean “pork fillet” which is pork tenderloin and therefore leaner and healthier (sometimes more expensive); while “rosu” is “pork roast” which uses a richer cut of pork with a layer of fats along the side, and would be juicier and fattier.
While “ton” refers to “pig”, many restaurants in Singapore also serve up chicken and seafood versions.
Here are 12 Japanese places in Singapore to satisfy your Tonkatsu cravings:
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 – 9pm (Mon – Sun)
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.
Hajime is Japanese for “beginning” and the short form for “Hajimemashite” which means “Nice to meet you!”.
There are two outlets in Singapore, at Serangoon Garden and Thomson Plaza.
Experience Chef Tan-San’s 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.
85 East Coast Road, Singapore 428787
Tel: +65 6344 8183
Opening Hours: 12pm – 2:30pm (Sat, Sun), 6pm – 9:30pm (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. It may not be that in-the-radar, but Tonkatsu fans have been heading to this humble casual eatery.
Key feature is that premium sunflower oil is used for the deep-frying, with no added MSG and less salt.
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.
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.
7 Wallich St, Guoco Tower #01-06, Singapore 078884
Tel: +65 6822 7912
Opening Hours: 11:30am – 2:30pm, 5pm – 8:30pm (Mon – Sun)
The original Imakatsu at Roppongi was previously recommended as a Bib Gourmand restaurant under the Michelin Guide Tokyo 2015.
There is another outlet at The Star Vista.
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 – 3pm, 5pm – 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 – 9:30pm (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, Singapore 238872
Tel: +65 6735 7522
Opening Hours: 11am – 3pm, 5pm – 9:30pm (Mon – Thurs), 11am – 10pm (Fri – Sat), 11am – 9:30pm (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.
9 Raffles Boulevard, #02-14 Millenia Walk, Singapore 039596
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.
100 Tras St, 100AM Mall #03-13, Singapore 079027
Opening Hours: 11:30am – 2pm, 5:30pm – 10pm (Mon – Sun)
One of the newest names on this list, Kagoshima Kitchen located at 100AM Mall brings quality wagyu and kurobuta pork from Kagoshima.
The Japanese black cattle and Berkshire pigs are supposedly raised stress-free with superior farming technique.
Therefore, customers can enjoy the tenderness of the meat along with the crispiness of the outer later.
Signature items include Kagoshima Kurobuta Loin Tonkatsu ($20), Kagoshima Kurobuta Rib Loin Tonkatsu ($23), and Kagoshima Kutobuta Boston Tonkatsu ($23).
They come served with cabbage salad, with choice of tonkatsu or demi-glace sauce. Some dishes are limited to 5 or 10 sets per day though.
1 Kim Seng Promenade #01-113/114 Great World City, Singapore 237994
Tel: +65 6977 9815
Opening Hours: 11am – 9:30pm (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 – 8pm (Mon – Thurs), 11am – 9pm (Fri – 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.
B2 Takashimaya, Ngee Ann City, 391 Orchard Road, Singapore 238801
Opening Hours: 10am – 9pm (Mon – Sun)
Kimukatsu is considered a relatively popular tonkatsu (pork cutlet) chain restaurant in Japan.
The special thing is in its “mille feuille” type of pork cutlet, created by stacking 25 layers of thinly sliced pork together.
The piece is then covered with panko, deep-fried in low temperature for 8 minutes, then set vertically for 2 minutes to steam.
This results in a golden crunchy-exterior, tender-interior in which heat is spread evenly inside between the layers.
Kimukatsu Singapore offers 6 types (compared to Japan’s 7), including Original ($14.90), Black Pepper ($15.90), Ume Shiso ($16.90), Cheese ($15.90), Garlic ($15.90) and Yuzu Kosho ($16.90).
May need to keep your expectations lower as this can be disappointingly-underwhelming especially if you have tried Japan’s version.
Maruhachi Donburi & Curry
671 Edgefield Plains, Singapore 821673
Opening Hours: 11am – 9pm (Mon, Wed – Sun), Closed Tues
Maruhachi may not be a restaurant, but has made some waves for serving restaurant-quality Tonkatsu in humble coffeeshops in the heartlands.
Other than its first outlet at Punggol (671 Edgefield Plains), there are stalls at 429 Jurong West, 51 Havelock Road, 365 Sembawang Crescent, 373 Bukit Batok, 818 Choa Chu Kang, 27 Jalan Mas Puteh, and 204 Bedok North St 1.
Maruhachi Donburi & Curry at Edgefield Plains Punggol got into the limelight because the owner-hawker was an ex-head chef of Ginza Bairin Singapore outlet.
On its menu are three main sections – Teishoku sets served with Japanese rice and miso soup, Curry Rice, and Donburi bowls.
Some of the highlights include Blackpig Katsu Set ($15.80), Pork Katsu Set ($11.80), Chicken Katsu Set ($10.80), Ebi Prawn Fry Set ($13.80), Chicken Karaage Set ($10.80), Kaki Oyster Fry Set ($15.80), Pork Katsu Curry ($9.80), and Pork Fillet Katsu Curry ($10.80).
Fresh bread crumbs aka nama panko is used to ensure crispiness of the katsu, while the meats are deep-fried in 100% cottonseed oil to highlight the aroma and flavour of the katsu.
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