Love for deep-fried food is universal and in Japan, it is clearly manifested in the nation’s beloved Tonkatsu, a dish of deep-fried pork cutlets. This is your go-to dish if your palate is craving for something more Western, and if you happen to be wandering around the busy streets of Shinjuku when the craving hits you, here are 10 Tonkatsu Restaurants that will surely satisfy you:
1. Suzuya (すずや)
Tonkatsu may be heavily inspired by Western cuisine but in Suzuya, it is infused with tradition. The restaurant has been in the business for almost 70 years now and you can tell this by its interiors that feature black and white photographs and styling reminiscent of post-war Japan. Their signature dish is Tonkatsu Chazuke where you pour tea over rice, tonkatsu, and pickles. The set comes with unlimited servings of boiled cabbage, rice, miso soup, and hot tea. Truly a tonkatsu experience like no other!
Address: Suzuya Building 5F 1-23-15 Kabukicho, Shinjuku, Tokyo
Website: http://www.toncya-suzuya.co.jp/index.html (Japanese only)
2. Tonchinkan (豚珍館)
Long queues, obscure location, and cramped dining space do not deter deep-fried lovers from enjoying Tonchinkan’s big portions of juicy meat at an affordable price. Rice and pork soup are free flowing until you’ve had your fill, and of course, the meal also comes with your usual cabbage, tea, and pickles. This diner is a super busy one that lingering after meals is not encouraged. If you’re looking for a quick but very satisfying meal, this is your stop.
Address: 1-13-8 Nishishinjuku Shinjuku Tokyo
Website: http://r.gnavi.co.jp/gd6c900/ (Japanese only)
3. Ouroji (王ろじ)
This small tonkatsu shop in Shinjuku has been in the business since 1921 and is famous for its Tondonburi or curry rice with pork cutlets. They also have a tonkatsu sandwich on the menu which sells for ¥1,000. The price is steep for a sandwich but it is pretty great too!
Address: 3-17-21 Shinjuku Shinjuku Tokyo
Website: http://tabelog.com/en/tokyo/A1304/A130401/13000860/ (Japanese only)
4. Tonkatsu Santa (とんかつ三太)
Santa’s tonkatsu dishes are a little bit different because of their crumbs. It is grated instead of finely minced which makes the final product one crunchy affair. Their meat comes from nearby Saitama and Chiba Prefectures ensuring the freshness and quality of their supply. Multi-course meals and alcoholic drinks are also available here.
Address: 3-33-10 Shinjuku Shinjuku Tokyo
Website: http://www.tonkatsu-santa.com (Japanese only)
5. Niimura (とんかつ にいむら 本店)
Niimura serves premium grade Kurobuta “black pig” meat, a type of pork from the rare Berkshire breed raised in Kagoshima Prefecture. Aside from Tonkatsu, they are also known to serve high- quality Japanese beef for shabu-shabu and sukiyaki at a second branch in the same area (see website for additional details). Located in the nightlife district of Kabukicho, the restaurant is open until the wee hours of the night. Order a beer or sake from their bar list to go with your late night meals.
Address: 1-23-10 Kabukicho Shinjuku Tokyo
6. Katsukura (名代とんかつ かつくら)
Another place for premium pork dining is Katsukura. They serve meat from Yamagata Prefecture and is home to the highly regarded Shonai pork. There are several sauces for the tonkatsu but the best one would be to go DIY by grinding sesame seeds and adding them to the regular tonkatsu sauce.
Address: 14F Takashiyama Times Square Building 5-24-2 Sendagaya Shibuya Tokyo
7. Maisen (まい泉)
Maisen is an ultra-popular Tonkatsu restaurant chain featured in many travel guides, and for good reason. They serve high-grade specialty pork meats which include Japanese Kurobuta (black pig), Amai-Yuwaku (Maisen’s original brand of pork), and Chamiton (tea-leaf fed pig). It is then served with a variety of sauces like mustard and Maisen’s special Tonkatsu sauce.
All in all, Maisan has 10 restaurants but just in case you couldn’t find the time to dine here, they have bento kiosks in depachikas (mall food courts) all over the metro. For more information, you can visit their website (link provided below).
Address: Keio Department Store 1 Chome 1-4 Nishishinjuku Shinjuku Tokyo
(Takeout Restaurant only)
Website: http://mai-sen.com/ (Japanese only)
8. Hamakatsu (とんかつ浜勝 西新宿店)
Hamakatsu is a tonkatsu restaurant chain with branches around Kyushu and Tokyo. Their lunch sets are quite popular, which are available from 11am to 5pm. Set meal prices start at ¥650 with the following inclusions: meat, refillable rice, soup, cabbage, pickles, and tea. They also have junior meals, which is a plus for those who are dining with children.
Address: 1-16-4 Nishishinjuku Shinjuku Tokyo
Website: http://www.hamakatsu.jp/ (Japanese only)
9. Katsuya (かつや 新宿南口店)
Katsuya is proof that good tonkatsu need not be expensive. For just ¥529, you can enjoy its popular “80g Roast Cutlet Katsudon”, rice topped with tonkatsu and egg. Another store favorite is the Katsu Curry Rice, which sells for only ¥637. Portions are generous for its price, speedy service, and free tea refill. This restaurant will give you the best value for money!
Address: 1-19-4 Nishishinjuku Shinjuku Tokyo
Website: http://www.arclandservice.co.jp/katsuya/shoplist.html (Japanese only)
10. Wako Takumian (とんかつ和幸 匠庵 伊勢丹新宿店)
Tonkatsu Wako is Japan’s largest Tonkatsu-specializing restaurant franchise famous for serving quality dishes at reasonable prices. It has more than 250 outlets scattered all over the country and 1 specialty restaurant in Shinjuku called Wako Takumian.
Wako Takumian is one of a kind because it is the only Wako branch that serves higher brands of pork in a luxurious dining space. This restaurant only deals with meat of rare breeds of pigs, which are recognized to have characteristic flavors. Come here if you feel like splurging on expertly crafted tonkatsu dishes.
Address: 7F Isetan Shinjuku 3-14-1 Shinjuku Shinjuku Tokyo
Information in this article is as of August 2016. Refer to the official websites for the latest information.
Thumbnail image is from Flickr