Breaded and deep-fried, The Japanese way

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Friday, March 21, 2014


BREADED and deep-fried, it is a dish that Filipino taste buds can easily acquaint with, far different from the likes of sashimi and uni, which by lechon kawali and crispy pata standards, are already deemed exotic.

With the opening of Tonkatsu by Terazawa’s first Cebu outlet last December, there’s a new reason to get to know this Japanese creation. It is said that the dish was introduced in the 1800s by expatriates living in Japan, and since then local chefs there have created their own versions.

Such is the case of Akinori Terazawa from Nagoya, who for over 20 years had worked on perfecting his katsu. He created a frying technique that gives the breading just the right crisp and texture, while keeping the meat inside of it tender.

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Today, his eponymous chain has branches around Asia, and it was brought to the Philippines by the Bistro Group, which is the same group also handling TGIFs and Italianni’s. It specializes in katsu preparation, offering a variety of it—not only tonkatsu that uses pork cutlet—but also of chicken, oyster, prawn and fish.

Tonkatsu, of course, is the house specialty. It has been made more flavorful with another of Terazawa’s cooking technique that involves wrapping the meat in cloth and aging it in the freezer several days prior to seasoning and frying. Unlike ordinary freezing, this process apparently “seals in the natural juices of the meat.

Aside from the standard pork fillet and loin cuts, the restaurant also serves kurobuta or premium Berkshire pork imported from Japan. To the uninitiated, kurobuta enjoys the same prestige as Kobe beef and is prized for its juicer taste. Another must-try is the kakifurai or breaded deep-fried oysters.

Easy to understand, and much easier to love. A visit to Tonkatsu by Terazawa never disappoints, as stepping inside is a lot like traveling to tonkatsu houses in Japan, and with each meal filled with generous portions of the chosen katsu, plus “unlimited rice, shredded cabbage and tonjiru (pork-flavored miso).

Starters like chasoba salad (green tea-flavored noodles) are also available and the specialty dessert, frozen green tea ice cream—topped with a slab of soft meringue—is a treat as delightful, and just as sinful, as the main course.

Tonkatsu by Terazawa is located on the ground level of Ayala Center Cebu Terraces.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 22, 2014.

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