My last post was about tonkatsu, or deep-fried pork cutlet. Today I'll add some more information about where you can eat it in Tokyo.
In fact, you can eat this simple dish everywhere, even at a small countryside diner or "family restaurant" chains. Still, I strongly recommend you to eat at a restaurant specializing in tonkatsu, because making a perfect tonkatsu (juicy inside, crispy outside, not too oily) requires professional skills.
You don't need to travel far searching for a good tonkatsu, though. I am always satisfied with the quality of tonkatsu restaurant chains, which can be easily found in the shopping malls, department stores and near the big stations.
The tonkatsu restaurant I frequented when I was OL (=Japanese English standing for office lady, meaning a young girl working at a office) was 和幸 Wako, with 200 franchised shops in Tokyo area.
Don't worry about ordering as they have English menus. You can find the nearest Wako restaurant at their English website .
さぼてん Saboten is another tonkatsu restaurant chain with many brunches in Tokyo, especially in Shinjuku -- in the basement of Shinjuku Park Tower, on the 8th floor of Keio Department Store, in the South Wing of Odakyu Ace and in the basement of Tokyo Opera City. English menus available. A very nice thing about this restaurant is you can ask for rice, miso soup and shredded cabbages as many times as you want. Isn't it wonderful, boys?
まい泉 Maisen is fancier than other Tonkatsu chains, thus more expensive.The Black Pork sirloin cutlet set (in Japanese Kurobuta rosu-katsu zen) served
with rice, miso soup, pickles and dessert is 2,990 yen, almost double
the price of Wako and Saboten, but I think it is worth the price.
I don't even know if we can call this place "chain" or "franchised," because there are only 7 restaurants, of which 5 are in central Tokyo: a main restaurant in Omotesando, on the 6th floor of Shibuya Hikarie department store, 12th floor of Tokyo Diamaru Department Store (Tokyo Station), 9th floor of of East Wing of Tokyu Toyoko Department Store (Shibuya Station) and 5th floor of Lumine Ogikubo (Ogikubo Station).
If you decided to eat at Maisen, go to the main restaurant, which has nicer atmosphere and wider variety of menu items. It is only three-minute walk from A2 exit of Omotesando Station. Address: 4-8-5 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku; phone: 0120-428-485 (toll free number). They have English menus and English speaking staff. For details, see their website.
I personally love their fillet cutlet sandwich called "hirekatsu sando," but unfortunately it is not served at restaurants. Try it when you find it at the food sections of major department stores!
Those who don't want to spend so much on food, go into one of the かつや Katsuya franchised shops, where a sirloin cutlet set (Rosu-katsu teishoku) is served for 690 yen. Frankly, this is not the type of place you might feel like taking your girl out, but it is perfect to have quick lunch with your male friends. Many shops open at 7 in the morning, so you can have breakfast too!
Sorry there are too many shops to list all. I'll pick up some of them.
Akihabara: 1-4-11 Kanda, Chiyoda-ku tel: 03-5297-7115
Ueno, Taito-ku tel: 03-5812-4665
Asakusa: 2-9-14 Asakusa, Taito-ku tel: 03-5827-1441 (opens at 10:30 a.m.)
Shibuya (Miyamasu-zaka) : 1-14-9 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku, tel: 03-5468-6681
No English menu, but the menu is full of pictures. You'll have no problem ordering.
Today's useful expressions: キャベツの おかわり ください。 Kyabetsu no okawari kudasai.
Please give me some more cabbage.
You can replace kyabetsu (cabbage) with gohan (rice) or misoshiru (miso soup).