Ponta Honke, Ueno
The Japanese language TV station here in San Francisco recently broadcast a TV Tokyo "spring sushi gourmet ranking" special. Between the sushi rankings, one of the non-sushi restaurants they mentioned was Ponta Honke, near Ameyokocho. They supposedly have an excellent tonkatsu, which is different from others because they fry the cutlet at a lower temperature, which allows the meat and the breading to "become one." I'm not sure what that means, but it looked good! I was thinking it might be a place to try when I meet up with a friend in Tokyo in early December.
Anybody familiar with it?
I was able to make it to Ponte Honke during my Tokyo visit earlier this month. Glad I did; it was quite good. It's about a 5-min. walk from JR Okachimachi station. Walk towards Matsuzakaya, make a left at Chuo dori, walk past the Matsuzakaya annex, and when you get to a cross street with a Cafe Veloce on the opposite corner, take a left there. Ponta Honke is near the corner; just look for their distinctive door and sign, as shown in the link above.
When you walk in the door there is a low wooden counter with four seats that sit in front of the open kitchen. Parties of two or more that came in headed for a staircase, so I assume there are tables on the second floor. Three people were working the small kitchen, but they were very quiet. The prominent sound was the low, steady simmer of food frying. There were about 6-8 items on the menu. Besides the pork cutlet, I could make out kaki fry and ebi fry; the rest were in kanji (which I can't read). Being it was the season for kaki, I was tempted, but it was the pork I had come to try, so that's what I ordered.
As I saw in the gourmet ranking special, the direct-from-the-farm pork is fried in fresh lard, at a low temperature, which leaves the breading golden and crisp, but tender, rather than dark and crunchy, as with tonkatsu, and the meat is wonderfully moist and succulent; I actually understood the statement "the meat and the breading become one"! The cutlet was served with shredded cabbage, a small potato croquette (on the right side of the plate in the pictures below), rice, a nice akamiso soup and some hearty tsukemono, for, I think, 2300 yen. They had sauce for the cutlet, but I actually preferred it with a little dab of mustard. Everyone who sat at the counter had the cutlet, so it's definitely the speciality.
I'll go back again.