Light yet juicy tonkatsu that displays a master chef’s delicate touch
Owner: Mitsuaki Sato
Tonkatsu is a true “food of the people,” beloved by ordinary Japanese people for over a century. But when a professional chef who is a master of his craft prepares it to delight diners, it becomes a decadent feast. In this installment, we visited a restaurant located a 15-minute walk from Asakusa. In the Kuramae district, where the atmosphere of old Tokyo lingers, the iconic restaurant “Sugita” has stood for 40 years. This popular establishment serves a healthy adaptation of tonkatsu that’s unbelievably light and tender. What could be the secret?
Spare no time or effort in the prep work to bring out the flavor of the meat.
The second-generation owner has a charming smile, but while cheerful and good-humored when serving customers, his unsparing attention to detail in the kitchen reveals the dedication of a master chef. First, he carefully removes the tendons with a knife to ensure the tenderness of the meat. He also slices off a moderate portion of the fat, giving the tonkatsu a lighter, healthier taste. Using high-quality meat means there’s no need to tenderize the pork by making cuts or pounding it. Because it isn’t pounded, the fibers of the meat remain intact and it retains its proper texture, which is satisfyingly firm when you bite in.
Using 100% lard, fry carefully in two pots with different temperatures for condensed umami.
After the prep work is done, the owner fries the tonkatsu in 100% pure lard from the Netherlands. He alternates between two different cauldrons, the first with oil heated to 170°C and the second to 130°C. Quickly deep-frying the meat at a high temperature first seals in the umami, and then gradually frying it at a lower temperature until it is cooked all the way through removes excess fat. This painstaking process ensures tonkatsu that is light, yet intensely flavorful and packed with the natural umami of the meat.
Because of its proximity to Asakusa Station, the restaurant has been seeing many foreign customers recently. An English menu is available. Even the side dishes like tonjiru (miso soup with pork and vegetables) and rice are prepared with careful attention to ingredients and taste so that they complement the meat perfectly. The menu is filled with delicacies that customers should by all means try in combination. Besides tonkatsu dishes, the fried jumbo prawns and omu-rice (fried rice omelet) are beloved dishes just waiting to be discovered.
Ready to eat
Here, the owner has prepared the “Tonkatsu Loin (150g)” for 2,100 yen. With crispy breading on the outside and tender meat that almost melts in your mouth on the inside, each new bite releases even more delicious juices. Removing as much of the fat as possible maximizes the intense umami of the lean portions. The taste is so light that you can easily down two or three pieces at a time, and even dieters and health-conscious diners may quickly find themselves with empty plates. Besides the loin, the “Fillet” for 2,400 yen is also popular, with less fat and an even lighter taste.
Beloved by locals, this well-known restaurant is a tonkatsu veteran with a history stretching back 40 years. The interior has a refined, low-key ambience and seats 20 customers. In addition to the counter, there is also a traditional Japanese-style tatami mat room that is perfect for special occasions.
|Address||3-8-3 Kotobuki, Taito-ku, Tokyo|
|Telephone number||(+81) 3 - 3844-5529|
|Working Hours||11:30 - 14:00, 17:00- 20:15|