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Notable Nosh: Tonkatsu

Tonkatsu - Izakaya

Not long ago, I featured a rather unusual preparation called ‘Oyster Katsu’, which, I noted, was a culinary offshoot of a very popular Japanese dish known as ‘Tonkastu’.  Traditionally, a ‘Tonkatsu’ consists of  breaded  pork cutlet that is fried and  then served over a bed of thinly slice white cabbage alongside a unique Worcestershire based barbecue-type sauce and the version you see pictured above, and which I enjoyed recently in Ottawa, cleaves to the basic idea with a few unorthodox twists thrown in…

First, the plain cabbage bed in this interpretation was replaced with a mix of white and red cabbage that had briefly been cooked and then tossed in a spicy-sweet chili based sauce. This was a novel addition and I rather liked it. The pork cutlet, however, was rather thickly cut and not pounded out for the tenderness you should really expect with this dish. It was also a bit too vigorously fried in this particular case with the result that it was just a little bit dry and overdone.

The biggest deviation from the basic theme was that the cutlet was slathered (a little too liberally, perhaps) with a Teriyaki style sauce and Japanese Mayo. The effect was actually not that bad but to then serve the typical katsu sauce alongside was really overkill to my mind. As it happened though, I actually preferred the topping blend and, after the first few bites, didn’t bother with the dipping sauce again. Possibly, purists might claim that the dish I was served can no longer be properly called a true Japanese Tonkatsu but I generally enjoyed this approach and may try something similar myself at home…

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