Breaded, Deep Fried, Juicy and Tender. The allure of such a description would probably be hard to resist for anyone. Couple that thought with the tangy sweet tonkatsu sauce created almost 90 years ago, and perhaps what you would have is a winning combination.
Ginza Bairin was the very first Tonkatsu restaurant in the Ginza province of Japan in 1927. The founder Nobukatsu Shibuya paired the crispy pork fillets which were coated with Panko and deep fried to order with his own special home made Tonkatsu sauce comprising a blend of apples, onions and various fruits and vegetables. Tempting?
The Toast Cheese Pork Katsu Sandwich($9.60) is noted as one of the specialties of the restaurant. While it is a simple dish served within slices of toast bread, each bite focuses strongly on the pieces of breaded katsu within. No tricks here, just crispy pork katsu, served on a bed of shredded lettuce within slices of toast.
The Mini Burgers ($6.50) on first serve gives a very quaint look. However, the burgers true to its name, fits the term mini. The patty in each piece is very crispy though the slightly salty sauce taste overpowers the flavour in the first bite. Thereafter it is an exodus of creamy mayonnaise that coats the tastebuds. Ideal for party talks, and if you go for mini burgers.
And for those who are purist in the Tonkatsu arena, you can actually enjoy ginormous pieces of the breaded pork cutlets served up with a bowl of the special tonkatsu sauce. The Kami Katsu ($13.50)is served thin with more crunch and a slight oily aftertaste which is still quite decent when a spoonful of sauce is spooned over or each piece dipped into.
The Special Black Pig Katsu Don ($16.90) is my favourite dish of what I have tried at Ginza Bairin so far. The flavoursome rice where each grain is coated with the sweet appealing tonkatsu sauce leaves a lasting note with wafts of warm fragrance tempting a second bite. The meat itself although slightly damp from the moist donburi, gives a taste of porky goodness. Breaking the yolk from the egg on the top and mixing it with the rice is almost heavenly. Excellent rice, lovely pork cutlet and a oozing yolk to match, beautiful.
The Black Pig Katsu Curry ($16.50) itself is not too bad. A very good match between the tonkatsu and the slightly spicy and sweet Japanese curry served on a bed of warm rice.
For the Tonkatsu Char Shu Ramen ($15.90), I felt that the Pork Bone broth was quite savoury and collagen rich. Decent and crisp noodles, I felt that the best part of this dish was the special egg which absorbed the flavours of the pork broth.
One of the select side dishes on the menu would be the Cheese Croquette ($3.00 per pc). Seasoned mashed potato stuffed with cheese and coated with panko then deep fried These were quite nice and addictive when eaten with the sesame sauce.
The setting of Ginza Bairin is fast food like with an open window into the kitchen to watch the chefs at work. For a dedicated tonkatsu restaurant, Ginza Bairin does strike a familiar cord by providing that warm feeling when enjoying each piece of katsu with the special home made sauce. And if you like that sauce so much, you can even buy a bottle home. Crisp Crunch. Yes.
Many Thanks to Amanda, Jillyan and Xiao Min from Ate Consulting for the invitation