the mother of all tonkatsu meals

esta shopping center, like all shopping centers in japan, has a restaurant floor so we walked up there to look at our options.  there’s soup curry, okonomiyaki, ramen, chinese and tonkatsu.  we’ve had our share of tonkatsu over the first month of our stay in japan but all of those meals had been at either donburi or generic restaurants.  good meals but nothing much more than that.   so we sit down in the lineup and wait to be called in.

the man of the hour

i remember my first experience with tonkatsu way back when in osaka.  i wasn’t exactly a vegetable eater at the time so i scarfed down my giant plank of golden pork, buried it with a bowl of rice and completely ignored the mountain of cabbage.  yup, my digestive system didn’t exactly appreciate that.

with that knowledge in hand, we placed our orders and eagerly waited for our meals to arrive.  next to us was a family of four and every so often we would peer across to use them as our instruction manual.  which sauces do we use to make our tonkatsu sauce after we grind our sesame seeds?  what are in the three mystery containers brought out after we ordered?  why did the dad get stopped while holding his rice bowl?  could it be… free refills?  yes, yes they are.  game on.

sesame & pickled vegetables to start (also bottomless!)

two kinds of rice in addition to white:
corn & ginger
wasabi & black bean

wasabi & black bean rice

such a freeing feeling to not have to worry about keeping the rice and meat ratio intact.

my miso katsu set with corn & ginger rice
i don’t know if i was eating this daikon & mushroom mixture correctly but it tasted really good on top of the cutlet

this came out on a hot plate and my tonkatsu was completely covered in a rich, red miso sauce that was both sweet and salty.  underneath it was a bed of cabbage that was even more soaked of this sauce, the perfect complement to bottomless rice.  this dish didn’t have the same crispy consistency as haha’s traditional tonkatsu but it was a nice change.  i kind of went overboard by eating three bowls of rice but i tried to balance it out with a second helping of cabbage, this batch not being slathered in sauce.

haha’s tonkatsu portion with spicy mustard

for the record, this was another morning where i had woken up and wanted to avoid anything deep fried for lunch.  willpower is at an all time low this trip, i figure it’ll change on it’s own at some point.  until then…

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