Saturday, August 2, 2014

Suzuya Toncha すずや: When Tonkatsu Meets Ocha

Maisen, Katsuzen, these are the few popular names in Tokyo when it comes to Tonkatsu. While they are undoubtedly delicious for their pork cutlets, there is a classic Tonkatsu shop in Shinjuku that has been in service since 1953.

Stepping into the shop is like moving backwards in time to postwar Japan. The walls are adorned in black and white pictures of the owner. What makes this place famous is the Tonkatsu Ochatsuke. 
TONCHA = Tonkatsu + Ocha
I ordered the normal size (¥1500) which comes with 8 slices of hire and rosu cuts, served sizzling on a teppan plate beneath a pile of stir-fried cabbage. 
But where's the Ocha then? Well, the way to eat it is to first devour half of the Tonkatsu with the giant bowl of rice. Then, press the bell and inform the staff that you are ready to be served the pot of Ocha. 


Placed the remaining slices on the rice, with wasabi, pickled plum and pickles if you like, on the rice. Pour in the tea and the Tonkatsu Ochatsuke is now ready to be savoured. I truly enjoyed every single bite of the pork cutlet that came in contact with the secret garlic shoyu sauce on the teppan plate.

The meat juices are fully sealed beneath thin golden coating. And precisely because the Tonkatsu is served on this way, the base coating soaks up all the flavours in the hotplate while the top area remains crunchy. What better way to savour the pork this way than dipping it in the usual heavy brown sauce? 
I thought the Ochazuke way of eating the Tonkatsu was a brilliant idea because the aromatic hot tea lightened the taste and made it easier to conquer all the meat without feeling jaded. Each set comes with free flow of rice, miso soup and pickles.
Certainly, there are the typical pork cutlet sets or katsudon for the Tonkatsu purists but trust me, you'll never regret ordering the Toncha. 
Suzuya Toncha すずや
Shinjuku Kabukicho 1-23-15
Access: 2-min walk from Shinjuku JR East Exit or Seibu Shinjuku Station

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