It is dark outside when we arrive in front of the sliding doors of a tiny restaurant in the centre of Takayama. A few guest are having food at the bar, four others are having drinks at a table and there is one of the two Japanese style tables waiting for us. We get rid of our shoes and sit on the high floor while the hostess of this restaurant specialized in tonkatsu brings us the menu.
Japanese restaurants tend to specialize in one dish and become really good at this specific one. On this very evening the choice is easy; we will taste a tonkatsu made by a chef who has been improving his dish for more than 25 years.
Tonkatsu, literally pork cutlet, is a deep fried pork cutlet or loin. It is closely related to tempura. Before the magic of the crispy deep frying is done, the meat is scooped through flour, dipped in a clutched egg and covered with bread crumbs. We order two different tonkatsus; one original one and one with cheese. Both crunchy and tender and served with a delicious miso soup, rice, pickled vegetables, salad and fruits.
Much further North, on the island of Hokkaido, where cold winters call wholesome food, tonkatsus are often served in hearty curry sauces.
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