A sumptuous pork cutlet lunch at the famous tonkatsu restaurant “Kanda Ponchi-ken”!

Thick, juicy, and crispy battered Japanese pork cutlet, “tonkatsu.” For the ultimate tonkatsu dining experience in Tokyo, be sure to visit Kanda Ponchi-ken in Tokyo’s Kanda-Ogawamachi area. The restaurant has been repeatedly voted as a “Bib Gourmand” by the Michelin Guide Tokyo, attesting to its superb tonkatsu.

Exterior view of the famous tonkatsu restaurant “Kanda Ponchi-ken. Long lines form as soon as the restaurant opens.

What is Japanese tonkatsu?

Characteristics of Japanese tonkatsu I, the editor-in-chief, Marei, visited the restaurant. Being from Germany and a fan of pork cutlets, a popular dish in my home country, as well as a fan of Japanese tonkatsu, I was excited to try this famous restaurant. European cutlets are typically made by pounding veal meat, stretching it thin, coating it with fine breadcrumbs, and pan-frying it. In contrast, Japanese tonkatsu is always made from pork (“ton” means pork), often fried in one piece and served in thick slices.

The Specialties of Kanda Ponchi-ken

At Kanda Ponchi-ken, we were given a tour of the tonkatsu cooking process. Hearing about the careful preparation and the specific points of attention, I could understand why the restaurant is so famous. The cutlets we were served were filet and loin cutlets.

Mr. Hashimoto, the manager, cooked the dish for me.
After cutting, you can clearly see the difference in the meat. The one in the back is the filet with almost no fat, and the one in front is the loin.

There are two types of filet and loin cutlets, “jo” and “toku,” respectively, that differ in the origin of the meat. The “toku” (= special) cutlet is made with high-quality pork from Okinawa that has a strong flavor, while the “jo” (= great) cutlet is made with pork from Mexico. I chose the “toku” type for my tonkatsu experience at this famous restaurant.

The meat is lightly seasoned with salt and pepper and coated with tonkatsu batter. Kanda Ponchi-ken is particularly meticulous about the breading and uses large, fluffy “fresh breadcrumbs” that have less sugar and salt.

The batter is carefully applied to ensure even and thorough frying.

Next, the meat is slowly deep-fried. The oil used at Kanda Ponchi-ken is a blend of sesame oil and corn oil, resulting in lighter and crispier tonkatsu than those fried in lard and less rich.

After the tonkatsu is slowly fried, it is left to rest for a while before being reheated to perfection.
“Special fillet pork cutlet” on the left and “Special loin pork cutlet” on the right

A variety of seasonings are available on the table, including tonkatsu sauce, “Taiyo Sauce” (Worcestershire sauce), original hot yuzu pepper sauce, and coarse Guerande salt. In addition, spicey mustard is served alongside the tonkatsu for a change in flavor.

Mustard and seasonings on the table

The Ultimate Gastronomic Experience!

Lunch set menus come with rice, pork miso soup, and pickles

I was thoroughly impressed with the tonkatsu at Kanda Ponchi-ken. The amount of care and attention put into the dish was evident in every bite. The batter was crispy, and the meat was incredibly delicious, with the flavor spreading in my mouth with each chew. I didn’t even need any seasoning, it was that good.

The loin cutlet was the tenderest I’ve ever had, and the fillet cutlet was juicy. Despite its thickness, it was light on the palate and didn’t make me feel full or sick at all. It’s a true gem.

Out of all sauces and spices, I liked the salt the best.

Ponchiken is known for its excellent tonkatsu, but the other dishes on the menu are also popular. I was interested in trying the minced potato croquettes, fried horse mackerel, and curry. Additionally, the 500g “Tokute Hire Whole Fried Fillet” is a popular option to be shared with a group and is only available in the evenings. With an advanced reservation, you can even taste the “Handmade Pork Shabu.”

For a truly unforgettable gastronomic experience in Japan, you must visit Ponchiken in Kanda. The tonkatsu is exquisite, and the retro atmosphere of the restaurant is cozy and comfortable. I can’t wait to go back and try more from their menu.

Kanda Ponchi-ken

Japanese Website: https://www.ponchiken.jp
English Menu: https://www.ponchiken.jp/english-menu/lunch/
Address: Ougi Building 1F, 2-8 Kanda Ogawamachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/976KwHLRy8gVdjCc7
Nearest Stations: Ogawamachi Station, Awajicho Station, Shin-ochanomizu Station, Ochanomizu Station, Jimbocho Station, Kanda Station