Experience Japanese Food Culture: How to Enjoy Pork Cutlet



Tonkatsu is a must-try when experiencing Japanese food culture. Tonkatsu is a deep-fried dish with crispy batter and juicy pork, and its simple yet profound flavor attracts many people.

Tonkatsu was created when Western food culture spread to Japan during the Meiji era (1868-1912), and is now widely loved throughout Japan. It is served in restaurants and specialty stores along with a wide variety of menus, and the variations are endless. Derivative dishes such as pork cutlet sandwiches and pork cutlet curry are also popular.

In this article, we will introduce tonkatsu in detail, from basic information on tonkatsu to recommended ways to eat it, as well as the latest information on popular restaurants in Tokyo. We hope you will use it as a guide to enjoy tonkatsu to its fullest. When you visit Japan, enjoy authentic tonkatsu and experience its delicious taste and food culture in depth.


The history of tonkatsu dates back to the Western food boom of the Meiji era (1868-1912). At that time, “Katsuletsu,” a Western dish introduced to Japan, became the origin of Tonkatsu. The word “cutlet” comes from the English word “cutlet” and was first served as a dish using beef. Gradually, however, pork became used and the dish evolved into “pork cutlet,” which is unique to Japan.

Tonkatsu was first created in 1929, when Ponta Honke in Ueno, Tokyo, deep-fried thick slices of pork in low-temperature oil and served them cut into pieces that could be easily eaten with chopsticks. This established pork cutlet as Japan’s own “tonkatsu” (pork cutlet). From this time on, the set meal style, combining sauce, rice, miso soup, and pickles, became common and spread rapidly throughout the country.

Ueno is also home to a number of famous tonkatsu restaurants, most notably Ponta Honke, Izumi, and Tonpachi Tei, all of which are well known for their long history of tonkatsu. These restaurants have introduced new approaches as well as traditional cooking methods, and are still loved by many people today.

Tonkatsu is not only a meal, but also a good luck charm. Tonkatsu is also considered to bring good luck when eaten before an exam or a game, as the sound “katsu” (to win) is connected to the word “victory.

When you visit Japan, be sure to visit a famous tonkatsu restaurant and enjoy its history and taste.


There are many different types of tonkatsu, depending on the part of the pork cutlet used and the cooking method. Here are some of the most common types of tonkatsu.

Loin cutlet

Loin cutlets are made from the loin portion of pork and are characterized by a balance of moderate fat and lean meat. It is a dish where the tenderness and juiciness of the meat can be enjoyed.


  • Fat: Contains a moderate amount of fat and has a rich flavor.
  • Texture: Tender and juicy with every bite.

Filet Katsu

Hire-katsu is a pork cutlet made from the fillet part of the pig, which is a healthy part with less fat. It is characterized by its tenderness and elegant flavor.


  • Fat Content: Low in fat, popular among health-conscious consumers.
  • Texture: Very tender and moist.

Thick cutlet

Thick cutlet is made with pork cut thicker than a regular pork cutlet. It is a bold dish that allows you to fully enjoy the flavor of the meat.


  • Volume: Thick and filling.
  • Usage: The flavor of the meat is concentrated and the texture is juicy.

Whisami Katsu

Sasami Katsu is a pork cutlet made from pork chuck, which is characterized by its light flavor and low fat content. Recommended for those on a diet.


  • Healthy: Popular with health-conscious people due to its very low fat content.
  • Light: Light and refreshing, enjoy with sauce or lemon.

Miso Katsu

Miso katsu is a pork cutlet topped with miso sauce, and is especially known as a Nagoya specialty. It is characterized by its sweet and spicy miso sauce.


  • Miso Sauce: characterized by its sweet and spicy miso sauce, which goes especially well with rice.
  • Local Characteristics: A local dish especially popular in Nagoya.

Mille-feuille cutlet

Mille-feuille cutlet is a deep-fried pork cutlet consisting of several layers of thinly sliced pork. It is a new type of pork cutlet where each layer offers a different texture.


  • Layer texture: The many layers provide a crispy texture.
  • Variety of flavors: Cheese or shiso can be placed between the layers for a rich variety.

There are a wide variety of tonkatsu, depending on the part of the pork cutlet used and the cooking method. Enjoy the characteristics of each and find your favorite tonkatsu.

Manners and Eating Style

When enjoying tonkatsu, it is important to know a few basic manners and the proper way to eat it. Here are some tips on etiquette and how to eat tonkatsu.

Proper Eating Manners

  1. How to use chopsticks.
    Tonkatsu is basically eaten with chopsticks. In Japan, the use of chopsticks is especially important, so be sure to hold them in the correct way. 2.

2.How to pour sauce.
Tonkatsu has its own special sauce. Many restaurants have tonkatsu sauce on the table, so pour just the right amount on your tonkatsu and enjoy. It is also common to put the sauce on a small plate before eating.

3.How to enjoy the garnish.
Tonkatsu is often served with shredded cabbage, miso soup and rice. The cabbage is delicious served together with dressing or tonkatsu sauce.


  1. Eat quietly.
    Japanese food culture expects people to speak quietly during meals. Avoid talking loudly and be considerate of those around you.
  2. Words of Gratitude.
    It is Japanese etiquette to say “Itadakimasu” before eating and “Gochisosama desu” after eating. By using these words, you can express your gratitude to the person who prepared the food and the ingredients.
  3. Manners for Sharing.
    When sharing with family members or friends, it is advisable to share the food on your own plate before eating it. Avoid taking directly from another person’s plate.

Manners after eating

1.Clear the table.
When you have finished eating, it is important to pack up your dishes neatly. Especially in restaurants, make it easy for the staff to clean up.

  1. Tipping culture
    Tipping is generally not customary in Japan, but if you receive good service, you can express your appreciation by thanking the staff directly.

By observing these manners and eating etiquette, you will be able to enjoy a richer dining experience when you enjoy tonkatsu. We hope you will experience the delicious taste of tonkatsu and the culture behind it when you visit Japan.

Recommended restaurants

There are many great tonkatsu restaurants in Tokyo, but we would like to introduce a few of the most popular ones.

Ponta Honke (Ueno)

Ponta Honke is a long-established tonkatsu restaurant established in 1905, featuring tonkatsu made from only the lean part of the loin. The homemade lard is used for frying, which enhances the flavor and aroma of the meat.


  • Address: 3-23-3 Ueno, Taito-ku, Tokyo
  • Nearest Station: 1 minute walk from Ueno-Hirokoji Station on the Ginza Subway Line, 2 minute walk from Okachimachi Station on the JR Yamanote Line

Marugo (Akihabara)

Marugo is a popular restaurant in Akihabara that uses meat closer to the shoulder with just the right amount of fat. The meat is slowly fried at a low temperature to make it crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside.


  • Address: 1-8-1 Sotokanda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
  • Nearest Station: 3 minutes walk from Akihabara Station on JR Yamanote Line

Tonki (Komagome)

Tonki is a long-established tonkatsu restaurant in Komagome, especially noted for its three-dip batter. By frying with pure lard, the tonkatsu is light yet rich.


  • Address: 2-4-5 Nakazato, Kita-ku, Tokyo
  • Closest Station: 5 minutes walk from Komagome Station

Pork Cutlet Maizumi Aoyama Honten (Omotesando)

Maizumi is popular for its tender and juicy filet cutlets. They are so tender that they can be easily cut with chopsticks, and are loved by men and women of all ages.


  • Address: 4-8-5 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
  • Nearest station: 3 minutes walk from Omotesando Station

By visiting these famous restaurants, you can fully enjoy Tokyo’s tonkatsu culture. Enjoy the unique flavor and attention to detail at each restaurant.

Specialties of each region

Tonkatsu made with local specialties can be found all over Japan. By using these specialties, you can enjoy the flavors and culture of each region. Here are some typical regional specialties.

Nagoya (Aichi Prefecture): Miso Katsu

Misokatsu, a well-known specialty of Nagoya, is a pork cutlet topped with a thick miso sauce. Hatcho miso is often used for this sauce, which is characterized by its sweet and spicy taste.


  • Hatcho Miso: This sauce is made with Hatcho miso, which has a rich, full-bodied flavor.
  • How to eat: It is generally enjoyed with rice, and shredded cabbage is also a must.

Kagoshima (Kagoshima Prefecture): Kurobuta Tonkatsu

Kagoshima Prefecture is famous for its Kurobuta pork, and tonkatsu made with Kurobuta pork is characterized by its tender and juicy meat. You can enjoy the sweet fatty, aromatic flavor of Kurobuta pork.


  • Kurobuta: Made with Kagoshima Kurobuta pork, which is known for its sweet fat and rich flavor.
  • Cooking: Simply seasoned with salt and pepper to enhance the flavor of the meat.

Hokkaido: Whey Pork Tonkatsu

Tonkatsu made with whey pork is popular in Hokkaido. Whey pork is a type of pork raised on whey (whey), which is produced during the cheese-making process, and is characterized by its healthy and flavorful meat.


  • Whey pork: Low fat, healthy yet juicy meat.
  • Seasoning: Tasted simply with salt, you can enjoy the original flavor of pork.

Okinawa (Okinawa Prefecture): Agu pork tonkatsu

Agu pork, a specialty of Okinawa, is rare and highly prized for its sweet fat and rich flavor. Tonkatsu made with Agu pork has an unforgettable taste once you try it.


  • Agoo pork: Okinawan pork with sweet fat and tender meat.
  • Cooking: Commonly served with a special sauce.

Tonkatsu made with these regional specialties offer a unique flavor and appeal that can only be enjoyed in each region. When you visit Japan, be sure to try the tonkatsu that make the most of the local specialties of each region. You will be able to savor a special dining experience while experiencing the local climate and culture.


Tonkatsu is one of the most iconic dishes of Japanese food culture, and its crispy batter and juicy pork meat are loved by many people. The appeal of tonkatsu lies in the variations using regional specialties and the unique style of tonkatsu that can be enjoyed at famous restaurants in each region.

For example, Nagoya’s miso katsu is characterized by its rich miso sauce, while Kagoshima’s Kurobuta tonkatsu has sweet fat and tender meat. In addition, tonkatsu made with whey pork from Hokkaido and agu pork from Okinawa also offer regional flavors.

Tokyo is also home to such renowned restaurants as Ponta Honke, each of which offers exquisite tonkatsu with its own specialties and techniques. These restaurants not only offer the traditional taste of tonkatsu, but also incorporate the latest techniques and services, so you will discover something new every time you visit.

When enjoying tonkatsu, proper manners and eating techniques will make the experience even more enjoyable. For example, it is important to eat well with chopsticks and to observe the proper amount of sauce when pouring it on.

When you visit Japan, be sure to visit a famous tonkatsu restaurant and enjoy the deep flavor and history of tonkatsu. Through tonkatsu, you will be able to experience the richness and diversity of Japanese food culture.