Did you know that there is a famous tonkatsu restaurant in a very ordinary residential area called Kamikatsura? It is said that the restaurant used to have a long line of customers in Saiin, but has moved to a place where you can’t find it unless you are conscious of looking for it….
Sanpei’s pork cutlets are reputed to be the “softest in Kyoto”…the secret is in the fillet meat, which has been thoroughly pre-processed.
The restaurant, Tenobe Tonkatsu Sanpei, is said to have the softest tonkatsu in Kyoto. When I visited the restaurant during dinner time, there was no line, but the restaurant was packed with families and new customers were constantly arriving.
Here is their signature dish…
Tenobe Tonkatsu Set Meal (image shows large size, 1900 yen). It is what is called a filet cutlet, but the tenderness of the meat is certainly quite different from other restaurants. It is an exaggeration to say that the meat melts in your mouth, but it is as if the meat loosens with just the movement of your mouth and tongue, without having to chew.
How does the meat become so tender? The secret lies in the preparation before frying. As soon as you place your order, a bang comes from the back of the kitchen! Boom! from the back of the kitchen. The fibers of the meat are thoroughly crushed, and any excess muscle is removed… This process is what makes our filet mignon so tender.
Thus, the meat is medium rare after frying. It is served with either sweet and fruity tonkatsu sauce or the restaurant’s recommended curry salt.
Are Sanpei’s pork cutlets other than filet tender? I verified this with the loin katsu set meal.
But are the other tonkatsu as tender as the filet? The price of fillet tonkatsu is inevitably higher. When you want to go as reasonable as possible, you should go for loin rather than fillet. So I went back another day and ordered the loin katsu set meal (large, 1,600 yen).
First, look at the cross section. The thickness of the meat is about 1 cm, and the volume is ample. And the overall cross-section is slightly reddish. The meat is properly heated, but still has a slightly rare part…in steak terms, it is about one step short of well-done.
This works when you put it in your mouth. It is not so soft that the meat melts without chewing, like a filet of pork cutlet, but when you put your front teeth into it, you first feel its elasticity, and then you can bite through it without any difficulty. It is still softer than the loin at other restaurants.
However, as time passes and the meat is heated through to the inside, it gradually loses its tenderness. Therefore, we recommend that you eat it while the meat is still tender. The seasoning is the same as for Tenobe Tonkatsu, with either special sauce or curry salt. I personally prefer the sauce.
Tenobe Tonkatsu Sanpei’s hidden popular menu item, “Crab Cream Croquette” is rich and thick with béchamel sauce!
And this restaurant has a hidden popular menu item that the locals order in addition to the regular menu items. That is this crab cream croquette (220 yen per piece).
It was fried very fluffy and filled with a rich béchamel sauce. To be honest, the crab meat was not very present, but I think it could be added for those who are not satisfied with tonkatsu alone or for children.
Do you know a restaurant that serves softer tonkatsu than this one? Tenobe Tonkatsu Sanpei is a 4-minute walk from Kamikatsura Station on the Hankyu Arashiyama Line.
Now, here are the details of the restaurant.
Address: 99-13 Kamikatsura Miyanogo-cho, Nishikyo-ku, Kyoto City
Phone number: 075-393-2090
Business hours: 11:30-14:00, 17:30-21:00
P.S. If you are looking for a delicious tonkatsu in Kyoto, please stop by this article…