Last Updated: March 5, 2018
“Scotch egg” katsu sounds pretty bizarre, right? Here’s a place you can check out the never-before-heard-of “scotch egg” katsu, as well as some really good quality tonkatsu!
Unless you have been living under a rock, you might have heard of Imakatsu, a Michelin Guide-featured tonkatsu speciality store that originated from Japan. With its first outlet opened in Buona Vista, you can now savour some of the top-notch tonkatsu that garnered the chain its international following.
Imakatsu is located on the ground floor of the open-air Star Vista. Don’t worry as it will be easy to spot the restaurant from its distinct Japanese furnishing and bright sign.
Its interior is also decked with Japanese-styled decor from the cluster of rustic bamboo poles to the massive oriental lamps. As expected, it was difficult for us to get a table during the lunch hour with the full-house crowd.
Typically paired with tonkatsu, Imakatsu serves up a free flow of shredded cabbage. Together with the creamy peanut sauce you can drizzle on top, the cabbage was a very refreshing contrast from the richer tonkatsu.
As a sucker for anything mentaiko, I couldn’t resist ordering the Mentaiko Pork Loin Katsu Zen ($21.80++). The deliciously spiced cod roe, ahh. Imakatsu could have just given me a bowl of rice and some mentaiko, and I would still have left a happy man.
Just feast your eyes on this beauty! From the gorgeous golden-brown of the tonkatsu to the generous mentaiko layer, I barely managed to get this photo before I gobbled it all down. Note that the garnish of chives and nori (seaweed) sprinkled on top aren’t just for show; they added a touch freshness to the tonkatsu.
I was very impressed with the tonkatsu, which is a testament to Imakatsu’s experienced frying techniques. While the pork loin meat stayed deliciously succulent and moist, the tonkatsu‘s breaded skin was cooked to a beautiful crispness. Believe me when I say that I heard a glorious crunch whenever I bit into the tonkatsu.
Indeed, the mentaiko lived up to the hype. What made it special compared to other mentaiko was its restrained sweetness. Even though the combination of tonkatsu and mentaiko may sound bizarre initially, the contrasting creaminess and spice it brought to the tonkatsu only accentuated its overall taste. My companion, however, found it a bit too spicy.
Frequent tonkatsu diners wanting something different might want to try Imakatsu’s Surigoma ($0.80), or ground white sesame seed dip. With a dash of tonkatsu sauce, the sesame dip really added an interesting texture to the tonkatsu dipped into it. Do give this top-up a shot to enhance your overall tonkatsu experience. It won’t even cause you a dollar!
I tried another variation of Imakatsu’s signature pork loin tonkatsu. Presenting Imakatsu’s knockout version of katsu don, its Pork Loin Cutlet Don ($18.80++). With the same quality deep-fried cutlet, this dish’s best feature was the soy broth it was simmered in, that added a nice sweetness to the meat.
Despite the addition of sauce into the mix, the tonkatsu‘s breaded skin managed to retain the same crispness that made me a fan in the previous dish. Not forgetting to mention the really soft simmered egg and onions combination in the donburi. I scraped up every bit of the egg at the end!
Piyo piyo! Nope, this isn’t the sound of Japanese kids mimicking bird chirping. This is your calling to try Imakatsu’s very intriguing PIYO PIYO Minced Meat Cutlet ($9.80++), which coincidentally enough is served as an egg sitting in a nest of shredded white cabbage.
Ever seen a scotch egg? Well, take that scotch egg and deep fry it into katsu. That is precisely what you will get with Imakatsu’s PIYO PIYO. For this dish, Imakatsu skilfully uses both high- and low-temperature frying to cook the outer layer of meat while keeping the yolk in the centre nice and runny.
The meat on the outside, albeit a tad on the peppery side, was cooked until tender. What was most impressive was the soft-boiled egg in the centre. Upon breaking it open, the yolk burst out and coated the whole katsu. It was silky and added a rich flavour that made the dish really decadent.
In Japan, students traditionally eat katsu the night before a major exam because katsu also means “to win”. With katsu as good as Imakatsu’s, I wouldn’t need to wait for the night before to feel like a winner. Although it was not perfect, I strongly recommend the PIYO PIYO. I doubt you can find katsu as original and novel as this.
But then again, Imakatsu could throw anything into the deep fryer and it would still turn into its golden katsu magic. Now that’s a real-life fantasy I’d gladly pay for.
Expected Damage: $30 – $50 per pax