There’s a new food craze sweeping across the country right now, and it’s something we’ve had in many restaurants for decades – tonkatsu. The innovation came by the way it is served, which is weirdly enough the supposed proper practice in many places in Japan. As proper tonkatsu restaurants pop up around the metro, one in particular caught our attention simply because it was called Tonkatsu by Terazawa. How much more direct can you get? “We serve tonkatsu, recipes are from Mr. Terazawa.”
Tonkatsu by Terazawa is located where Flapjacks used to be in Greenbelt 2. While they share similarities with other tonkatsu places, they have a few things that make them stand out. For one thing, they don’t have those grinding bowls for sesame seeds. Instead, they have something like pepper grinders that mill out ground sesame seeds. While you might say that isn’t as fun, it’s a heck of a lot cleaner and makes for less waste. It’s easier, too. Turns out, that sesame seed grinding thing came out of practice. In Japan, while parents were frying up the meat, the kids amused themselves by grinding up some sesame seeds. It doesn’t make the sesame seeds taste better or anything.
That esteemed gentleman in that picture up there holding the sesame grinder is Mr. Terazawa. He’s actually way more animated in real life than that picture implies. The guy’s like a real life anime character. He had all sorts of tips for enjoying his creations. We’ll get to them later. And trust me, you’ll want to read up to that part.
We started our meal out with some Chasoba Salad. This salad was so good that I may need to append something to an old saying – “You can fix anything with duct tape, ketchup and sesame oil.” I’m not saying the salad needed fixing, far from it. The salad in itself was great but the sesame oil just made it spectacular.
You can’t really have ham and eggs and not have something awesome. Okay, now on to meat of this post. Pun intended.
All their tonkatsu sets are served with five elements – rice, miso soup, pickled veggies, cabbages and the protein. The rice, miso soup, and the cabbage are all unlimited. You can keep asking for them to your heart’s content. I especially like the cabbage because of the dressing, which is also made of sesame seed. Seriously, that sesame seed is some kind of miracle food, I tells ya.
As a fan of miso soup, I can confidently say theirs is one of the better ones out there. It’s so full of good stuff that I cannot immediately identify.
While the Deep Fried Prawn Set may look like tempura, I can assure you that is not. Mr. Terazawa explained that tempura tends to use finer grain panko, while Mr. Terazawa uses longer grain panko for everything. He says it retains flavor better.
The deep fried prawns are wrapped in the same panko breading they use on their tonkatsu, so the best way to describe the dish would be to say that they taste exactly like tonkatsu, only with shrimp. The most notable thing about these prawns is their size and origin. They are gigantic! They use jumbo imperial shrimp from Japan.
Oysters are prepared in a number of different ways. My favorite will always be served raw, in the shell, with vinegar to dip them in. Seeing them deep fried like this was weird at first. Biting into one immediately made me appreciate the value of frying them up. The outside is a crispy shell of breading, while the inside is still soft and gooey, just the way I like it. Squeezing lemon on top of them gave them that nice citric freshness.
Again, these oysters were imported from Japan and are HUGE. Each order contains five pieces.
And now, ladies and gentlemen, the main event of the evening – the pork tonkatsu. Tonkatsu by Terazawa uses Kurobuta, the angus of pork, comes from original strains of Berkshire hogs from Japan, which they get from the US. The pork meat is aged for 3-5 days, wrapped in white cloth, in a chiller. As it was explained to us, this makes the meat more tender, more flavorful and juicier. Bottomline is they have good pork.
They have two variations – Rosu Katsu and Hire Katsu.
Compared to the Rosu Katsu, Tokusen Kurobuta Ippon Rosu Katsu uses pork loin with a little fat. If you look closely in the above picture, you can easily see the fat at the top portion. Fat on pork makes it super tasty.
Tokusen Kurobuta Ippon Hire Katsu Set is made of pork fillets, and is my favorite. Seriously, when my sister and I took our first bite, we looked at each other and said “OH EM GEE THIS TASTES LIKE STEAK!” You can see that the meat is a little darker than the Rosu Katsu, and it just tastes magnificent. It’s so tender and juicy and porky and steaky. I love it.
To enjoy the pureness of the meat better, here’s where Mr. Terazawa’s tip comes into play. First, grind the sesame seeds directly onto the meat to enhance the aroma. Then, instead of using the tonkatsu sauce, dip the meat in some salt. With only the salt, the freshness and flavor of the meat really come out. Sometimes, the tonkatsu sauce tends to overpower and mask the flavor of the meat.
You can also order their tonkatsu as a mixed set. This one comes with chicken, too.
Wafu Negrioshi Katsu Set is deep fried pork cutlets with onion radish and onions. Honestly, the radish and onions distract me from the goodness of the meat. So, I guess this is for people looking for more flavor to their tonkatsu.
Here’s a special little tidbit – maybe you notice that the breading is a tad darker than your common fare tonkatsu, it’s because their panko has a special secret ingredient. I’m not sure if they’ll appreciate if we share it. Trust us, though, you won’t notice it but you’ll taste it once you’re aware of it.
To cap off your Tonkatsu by Terazawa experience, try one of their desserts. I’m not a big fan of green tea, but their Frozen Green Tea dessert knocked my socks off. They also have Banana Cream Pie, which I haven’t tried but would probably be good also.
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