The New Trend: Tonkatsu and Ramen Side by Side to take on fierce competition
If you think the Tonkatsu war is saturated and done, and that ramen is taking over, you’ve got it wrong, dear readers. The fact is, there’s a growing trend that’s spreading the metro like wildfire ~ marrying the art of Ramen and Tonkatsu.
Have you noticed that Katsu and Ramen restaurants are slowly joining each other side by side? Here is a list of the growing Tonkatsu-Ramen tandem:
1. Tampopo Philippines – Tampopo is taking this war in a single restaurant!
2. Hokkaido Ramen Santouka and Katsu Sora at Greenhills Promenade
3. Yabu: House of Katsu – Soon, Yabu will be bringing the Hakata Ippudo ramen chain here at SM Mega Fashion Hall. But stop right there as I know a lot of you are excited about Ippudo.
With 19 branches in Japan (including Tokyo, Osaka, Yokohama and Sendai), Culvercity, California, Sawtelle, Los Angeles, Waikiki Honolulu, Hawaii, and Seoul, South Korea, KIMUKATSU brings its unique 25 layered Mille-Feuille Tonkatsu here in Manila.
And yes, you guessed it, Kimukatsu Philippines’ first branch sits beside Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen‘s branch in Shangri-La Plaza East Wing.
Ikkoryu’s co-founder Mr. Kenji Komuro, who is the Director of Public Relations for Kimukatsu Philippines, was kind enough to share Candid Cuisine his wide breadth of knowledge in Japanese cuisine, especially with his love for tonkatsu.
Kimukatsu’s ambience is hardly “fast food-like” and spells sophistication and elegance in an all-black modern and minimalist dining with a touch of Hanami. It matches the complex Tonkatsu it prepares for its diners. I note that the chairs look very much like Dimensione’s Louis Ghost models that’s priced around USD 410 each chair.
Unlimited Cabbage, Pickled Raddish, and Miso Soup
We started with some unlimited cabbage salad. This seems to become a standard across all Tonkatsu shops. You can choose either a shoyu-based Sarada sauce or a Sesame oil based sauce with a thicker texture. I seem to prefer this Sesame oil sauce as it’s sweeter, and as Kenji-san says, this is more popular among customers.
There are two kinds of Miso soup being served at Kimukatsu, White Miso and Red Miso. White Miso Soup is more common in Kyoto and Osaka while Red Miso is preferred among Japanese up North and also in Tokyo. I also prefer the Red Miso as it has a stronger taste, which you won’t get more often in Japanese restaurants here in Manila.
I assume Pickled Raddish is for eating it in between Tonkatsu to cleanse your palate, much like ginger when you eat Kaiseki. It is cool and refreshing to taste.
I love Kimukatsu’s Kimutaku, a mix between Korean Kimchi and Japanese yellow raddish pickles which has a stringent and sour taste.
Kimukatsu also serves this must-try Ebi Mayo coated with a special Tapioca flour. I love the chewy exterior and the succulent interior of the shrimp.
Unlimited Koshihikari Rice
As Kenji-san puts it, Tonkatsu must not be good on its own, but the rice that is eaten with it should be superb as well. Kimukatsu’s Koshihikari rice is prepared special. Only then it is cooked in a special rice cooker for only 15 minutes when customers arrive at the restaurant.
It is then placed in this wooden bucket that’s traditional in Japan. The wooden aroma mixed with the fluffiness of the rice makes it quite a traditional Japanese experience, a cuisine that’s long forgotten in today’s modern restaurants.
Ponzu Sauce and Tonkatsu Sauce
As Manila is now trained to grind and crush their sesame seeds, Kimukatsu does the same but offers two different sauces for the market: Ponzu sauce and Tonkatsu sauce. Kenji-san tells that Ponzu sauce is more for the Japanese-traditional tonkatsu flavors, while the Tonkatsu sauce is for the Western-palate flavors. More on this after I drill down Kimukatsu’s 7 flavors of Tonkatsu.
The 7 Flavors of Mille-Feuille Style Tonkatsu
The rice alone isn’t complete without its soulmate ~ the Tonkatsu. The heart of Kimukatsu lies in the Mille-Feuille style of preparing Tonkatsu. In an unbelievable fashion, 25 layers of thinly sliced Kurobuta (Black Hog pork meat) are stacked on one another and are deep fried in high grade Japanese panko, thus delivering a juicy and flavorful Tonkatsu.
Mille-feuille is a technique that is employed pastries such as Napoleon desserts. Traditionally in French cuisine, Mille-feuille is made up of three layers of puff pastry. Kimukatsu spins this into an interesting cuisine as its incorporated into pork, instead of dessert.
What’s unique in their Tonkatsu is that Kimukatsu’s Mille-Feuille delivers 7 flavors. Yes, SEVEN.
Plain – “Standard Kimukatsu. Experience the natural taste of our high grade pork in mille-feuille style”
This is a good starter. Kimukatsu’s minimalist tonkatsu is where you can experience the 25 layers in every bite and is a good gauge to determine if its meat is high grade. And yes, it did not disappoint. The Rosu is alternately embedded in Hire that makes it juicy without being overly fatty. I laud this game-changer in the Tonkatsu craze.
Garlic – “Freshly minced garlic in every bite you take. made for all the garlic lovers in the world.”
Garlic flavor is indeed garlicky in taste without sacrificing it to be too pungent in aftertaste. I like the garlic being subtle without overpowering the meat.
Black Pepper – “This katsu is coated with high grade black pepper all around.”
Curiously, I thought that the black edges was seaweed, but in fact high grade black pepper coating the tonkatsu. It wasn’t spicy at all but its variant feels adventurous.
Cheese – “With savory cheddar cheese oozing from the middle, this flavor hails as the best selling flavor in Japan”
As expected, the Cheese flavor was regarded as the bestseller here in Kimukatsu Manila as well. For someone who dislikes cheddar cheese as I’ve mentioned over and over again, the cheese here tastes good and in every bite there’s a rich cheese flavor that matches perfectly with the pork.
Negi Shio – “A refreshing flavor of marinated spring onion in every bite”
Kenji-san jokingly says that Negi Shio tastes like Gyoza ~ And it does! True enough I feel like I was eating fried Gyoza.
Yuzu Kosho – “This exotic flavor is a traditional Japanese taste of yuzu fruits and green chili pepper”
Yuzu fruit is believed to be a citrus hybrid between sour mandarin and Ichang papeda. This lime citrusy flavor is Kenji-san’s favorite. He shares that he likes to dipped it in Himalayan salt and grinded sesame seeds to balance sour and salty flavor.
Ume Shiso – “Our Japanese Sour Plum and Shiso Leaf Katsu is one of the most popular flavors among females in Japan.”
The spiciest among the seven, this is my favorite as expected. Kenji-san tells me that the middle part of this Tonkatsu is the spiciest portion compared to eating the edges as its majorly stuffed with the Shiso leaf and sour plum. Dipping it in the Ponzu sauce offers something different for tonkatsu lovers, which is a twist I like.
Out of the seven, the Plain, Garlic, Cheese and Black Pepper are more fit for Western taste. Thus these flavors are rightfully dipped in the thick Tonkatsu sauce. On the other hand, the Yuzu Kosho, Ume Shiso and Negi Shio are Japanese in tradition and are better off to be dipped in the light Ponzu sauce.
Kimukatsu offers you to mix and match these flavors in sets that includes rice, cabbage and miso soup. Since there are many flavors, I highly recommend you to come in large groups so you can order and try more flavors.
3 Flavors – P1,200 includes 2 rice set
4 Flavors – P1,500 includes 3 rice set
5 Flavors – P1,800 includes 4 rice set
6 Flavors – P2,100 includes 5 rice set
7 Flavors – P2,400 includes 6 rice set
Kenji-san shares that prices here in Manila are 40% cheaper compared to Japan, where a three flavor set at Kimukatsu Ebisu Shibuya-ku is priced at ¥3,980.
For individuals, Kimukatsu serves the Pork Loin Rosu Set, Pork Tenderloin Hire Set, Menchi Minced Set and Chicken Katsu Set, as well as Seafood sets like Ebi fry and Kaki fry. They also have Kimukatsu Curry which I think is a good way to make it at par with the others and Kimukatsu sandwich for snacks. I think the Kimukatsu Tamago Don is interesting too, so I make it a note to probably order that in my next visit.
Kuroguma Pudding for Dessert
Kimukatsu serves quite interesting desserts apart from their Green Tea and Sesame ice cream. They have Soy Cotta which is a must-try but is sweeter, Japanese Panna Cotta, Matcha Parfait and some Shingen Ice cream, a vanilla ice cream topped with Kuromitsu syrup and Kinako.
Kenji-san served us some Kuroguma Pudding which I really liked. Topped with black sesame paste, the pudding is light and serves as a good ending to a heavy Tonkatsu meal.
Authenticity in Tonkatsu Religion
Once again, Kimukatsu creates a game-changing atmosphere. Together with Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen, I believe that both can take on market with its years of experience. Kimukatsu will soon be opening its second branch at Century City, Makati, which is great news.
Again here at Candid Cuisine, I have continuously preached the principle of knowing the cuisine of what you are served to better appreciate the value of the food. This is one of the most authentic Japanese restaurants I have ever eaten, and I must say, is a completely must-try if you love Tonkatsu and pork. Congratulations to Kimukatsu!
Special Thanks to Mr. Kenji Komuro, Director of Public Relations, Kimukatsu Philippines and Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen Group for the hospitality and to Ms. Riza Meriado, Marketing Manager, for inviting Candid Cuisine.
This post is featured at Kimukatsu Press Release section.
Kimukatsu Philippines Rating:
|Taste and Originality:||(3.5 / 5)|
|Customer Experience:||(3.0 / 5)|
|Value for Money:||(3.0 / 5)|
|Brick and Mortar:||(3.0 / 5)|
|Average:||(3.1 / 5)|