5 Great Tonkatsu Restaurants In Los Angeles

Katsu at Kimukatsu | Photo by Jenny Yang
Katsu at Kimukatsu | Photo by Jenny Yang

Tonkatsu (not to be confused with tonkotsu ramen) is Japanese fried pork -- a dish that came into existence during Japan's opening to the West under the Meiji era. "Katsu" means cutlet and in the context of pork, there are usually two kinds used -- loin, or specifically fillet. The dish falls under the broad category of yoshoku cuisine, which is the Japanese take on Westernized food, developed in the 19th century.

There are very few tonkatsu specialists in Los Angeles, but it's most definitely a dish that can hold up an entire restaurant concept by itself. The pork is breaded and fried, usually served with a sort of Worcestershire sauce and strips of cabbage.

Here's a guide:

On a street chock-full of Japanese food, Kimukatsu is Sawtelle's katsu champion. It's an outpost of a chain from Japan and they set themselves apart by slicing the meat thinly, stacking it into 25 layers before breading and frying it in low temperature for eight minutes. According to their site: "It is then set vertically for two minutes to steam, allowing the heat to spread evenly inside." The menu touts a handful of variations; I like the katsu with sweet ponzu sauce. If pork isn't your thing, here you can give the kobe beef cutlet a try. 2121 Sawtelle Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90025; (310) 477-1129.

Kagura katsu | Photo by Kagura
Kagura katsu | Photo by Kagura

Kagura is most definitely the tonkatsu darling, though it veers towards the pricey end. It has quite an impressive pork menu. You'll find that the tonkatsu is superior here because of how well it retains its juices and because of the delicate breading that surrounds it. The premium choice is a black pork loin cutlet, or you can opt to get the dish deep-fried and layered with cheese. It comes with cabbage salad, miso soup, steamed egg, and a frenzy of other sides. 1652 Cabrillo Ave, Torrance, CA 90501; (310) 787-0227.


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Midoh | Photo by Clarissa Wei
Midoh | Photo by Clarissa Wei

Midoh Kitchen
Think deep-fried breaded pork and curry and hamburger steak doused with a lovely and creamy layer of cheese. These are all things Midoh Kitchen does. They specialize in tonkatsu -- breaded pork cutlets served with a lovely assortment of sides. I also love the hamburger steak, which is a hamburger patty sans the bread, smothered with a sauce of choice. Don't forget dessert; all their sweets are made in-house. 1380 S. Fullerton Road, Ste 106., Rowland Heights, CA 91748; (626) 810-0590.


Katsu | Photo by Wako Donkasu
Katsu | Photo by Wako Donkasu

Wako Donkasu
Wako has all different types of katsu: pork, fish, chicken. The tonkatsu here comes with a side of fresh sesame that you can ground up and layer on for extra flavor. It's ideal for lunch, because most things on the menu come in combination form. Get the katsu over rice or over soba, udon, or curry. Quantity is the main draw here. Rest assured, you'll most definitely be full from one order. 3377 Wilshire Blvd. #112, Los Angeles, CA 90010; (213) 381-9256.

Curry House CoCo Ichibanya
Curry House is a chain, specializing in Japanese curries that are completely customizable in terms of protein and spice level. The pork cutlet is just one of many options and works well over the creamy roux, dotted with stewed potatoes and carrots. Spice levels are ranked from one to ten. You can also top it all off with cheese or an egg. Sure, it sounds unconventional, but give it a try. That extra kick will make all the difference. 12007 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90049; (310) 479-1333. And various locations.

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