Tonkatsu refers to a popular dish of breaded, deep-fried pork cutlets. Here are our recommended tonkatsu restaurants in Kyoto.
Tonkatsu in Kyoto: sasaken / Shutterstock.com
Usually with tonkatsu, you have a choice of pork fillet or loin. It’s pretty straightforward, but that doesn’t mean it’s boring – sometimes the best things in life are just that simple. At its best, you’ll bite into a crispy breadcrumb shell encasing tender meat and a layer of fat that melts in your mouth. In Japan, it’s often served with a tangy brown tonkatsu sauce, a dash of karashi mustard, or salt. Heaps of shredded cabbage, a plate of rice, and miso soup round off the meal.
While tonkatsu isn’t a regional Kyoto speciality, this city takes its food seriously, so it’s only natural that it’s home to some excellent tonkatsu restaurants. All of the following restaurants serve great renditions of this dish, and none of them will break the bank!
- Katsukura Sanjo Main Shop (Downtown Kyoto; budget to mid-range)
Widely known as Katsukura, this restaurant’s tonkatsu is a cut above many places: the pork is excellent, and the sauce is homemade. Plus, the Sanjo main shop in downtown Kyoto serves tasty crab croquettes and chicken cutlets – perfect when not everyone wants to eat the same thing!
- Tonkatsu Butagorira (Central Kyoto; budget)
The oddly-named Tonkatsu Butagorira serves up some super-crispy batter – encasing juicy pork loin cutlets, of course! Eating this cheap and cheerful meal is best paired with a visit to nearby Nijo Castle.
- Tonman (Downtown Kyoto; mid-range)
Tonman in downtown Kyoto has been serving delicious, no-nonsense tonkatsu sets to hungry diners since 1948. How many tonkatsu restaurants have that claim to fame?
- Tonkatsu Ichiban (Kyoto Station Area; budget)
Who can argue with tonkatsu made from pigs raised in the Hokkaido mountains? Certainly not us. Tonkatsu Ichiban is a 15-minute walk west of Kyoto Station, but it’s worth the short trek out there. The food is tasty and it’s good value for money.
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Kyoto Vacation Checklist
- For all the essentials in a brief overview, see my First Time In Kyoto guide
- Check Kyoto accommodation availability on Booking.com - usually you can reserve a room with no upfront payment. Pay when you check out. Free cancellations too.
- Need tips on where to stay? See my one page guide Where To Stay In Kyoto
- See my comprehensive Packing List For Japan
- Buy a data-only SIM card online for collection when you arrive at Kansai International Airport (for Osaka and Kyoto) or Tokyo's Narita Airport. Or rent an unlimited data pocket wifi router.
- Compare Japan flight prices and timings to find the best deals
- If you're visiting more than one city, save a ton of money with a Japan Rail Pass - here's my explanation of why it's worth it
- A prepaid Icoca card makes travelling around Kyoto easy - here's how.
- Get travel insurance for Japan - we recommend World Nomads (and here's why)