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Nov 14, 2008 03:31 PM

Butagumi: Haute cuisine tonkatsu

Serving different varieties of pork including premium Spanish Iberico pork

Anyone been? Anyone interesting in going?

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  1. I read about this place quite awhile ago and have been interested ever since, but haven't managed to make the plans yet.

    I hope to make it there someday soon.

    3 Replies
    1. re: lost squirrel

      Better late than never. I did end up going. My report:

      "I had lunch at Butagumi, a restaurant that specializes in tonkatsu – deep fried pork (by the way, kudos to my cab driver who ended up negotiating an impossibly narrow side street to get me there). The menu consists of some 20 different varieties of pork, each with its own little write-up. For instance, there’s the Nakijin-Agoo-buta from Okinawa that was at one time an endangered species, the Eishow-ton fromm Kanagawa in central Japan whose ancestry can be traced back to China and is 80% sweet fat, and, of course, the Bimei-ton which is described as light-tasting. But I was there for the heavy hitter, Spain’s famed Iberico pork. Like Kobe beef, the meat practically melted in my mouth. Of course, like Kobe beef, the meat was incredibly well-marbled."

      By the way, they have an English menu.

      1. re: BaronDestructo

        Thanks Baron, I still haven't made it myself.

        Maybe sometime this summer I'll manage. Do you recommend the Iberico?

        1. re: lost squirrel

          Yes, the Iberico was excellent. If I dig up the menu, I'll post it.

    2. Well, after reading about this restaurant in a number of places, decided to go for dinner. It was very good. Basically takes the humble tonkatsu and all the trimmings (sauce, mustard, cabbage, soup, rice) and elevates them to the next level of craft food. We had the sampler set, which comes with five kinds of tonkatsu. Each of the pieces was noticeably different, although if you were to ask me which one I would order as a full meal, I really couldn't tell you.

      More expensive that the regular places, but at the price point of a kurobuta dinner at Maisen, so reasonable for the quality and quantity. Service was very good, and seems to be a family-run place, which is a positive.

      I still think Tonki is the baseline by which all other tonkatsu needs to be evaluated, and it is hard to tell (very different in every way), but superior to both Hirata Bokujo and Maisen.

      22 Replies
      1. re: Uncle Yabai

        I also tried Maisen while I was strolling through Shibuya and enjoyed it as well, although I preferred Butagmi (looking back, I think the homier outside also added to my overall enjoyment although I did take advantage of Maisen's more flexible hours to make a return visit there). Didn't try Tonki but will certainly put it on my "To Get To" list for this winter's trip. Along with the 45 other restaurants I've narrowed it down to from my original 96.

        1. re: Uncle Yabai

          Does anyone have thoughts on Kimukatsu?
          I liked it the couple times I've been. If you're going to talk about fancy tonkatsu, their mille-feuille katsu fully qualifies. They take thinly layered pork, sandwich some savory filling in it (garlic, pepper, yuzu kosho, cheese...), and there's your tonkatsu.

          1. re: baroo

            Arrrgh! You guys are killing me! I'm only in town for two weeks this winter and am struggling to trim down my list of places to eat. But ever time I eliminate one restaurant, you guys come up with two more intriguing finds. The least you could do is help me eat my way through them all when I get there.

              1. re: baroo

                It was OK the couple times I tried it. Don't know which branch you are talking about but the one in Ebisu sells their katsu as sandwiches and bentos out of a little window next to the entrance. Someone who wants just a taste could just pick up the sandoichi for 600 yen or so.

                1. re: baroo

                  I like Kimukatsu, but I see it as a different animal from tonkatsu.

                  Kimukatsu's katsudon really rocks! But I think it's only available at lunch (at least it was the last time I was there--a couple of years ago).

                  1. re: prasantrin

                    The post on "Butagumi" is very tempting... If they serve it with "akamiso shiru", I will defenitely go, I like the matching of taste. Perhaps this month, I will try it and come back on the post

                    1. re: Ninisix

                      They do, actually. Akamiso shiru is what is served.

                      1. re: Uncle Yabai

                        Uncle Yabai, thank-you. I went there for lunch and it was amazing to eat 5 piece of Tonkatsu and want for some more, even in full summer.
                        The staff, in fact the "chef" explanation, with the atmosphere of the place is very charming. The menu was served with "aka miso", rice, sliced cabbage with fruits ponsu sauce and the 3 pieces of pork loin including the "iberico" and 2 pieces of filet. An extreme of "tonkatsu" and the definition of enjoyment of it are joined in this place.

                        1. re: Ninisix

                          Second time. Looking at the list of ALL the selection, it feels like your choice should not be taken lightly !! Finally, I choose on the list, the 'triple cm' loan Okinawan pork : fleshy, fatty but non persistant meat, and covered with a sweet light crust.   
                          Just after i have found that review on the net that explain it better :
                          On the best clan (= 'butagumi' means literally 'pig clan'), what was your best one ? I think next time I will try the Hungarian pork.   

                          1. re: Ninisix

                            I've only been twice, but I can't imagine one being better than the Iberico

                2. re: Uncle Yabai

                  Well, figured it was time for another round. This time, I was basically blown away. Had Eishoo-ton from Kanagawa, which was 80% fat, but not chewy at all, almost like slurping very tasty noodles. But the real winner was an Iberico ham menchikatsu. This thing was out of this world. Who could have thought that a ground up deep-fried pork burger patty could taste so heavenly?

                  1. re: Uncle Yabai

                    Hi Uncle Yabai,

                    Kuyashii~! (^_^) Thanks for the great report back. I'm so jealous that I can't be there right now trying it. Sound delicious. :) So would you say ichiban wa Butagumi, niban wa Tonki, sanban wa Maisen? Thanks.

                    1. re: exilekiss

                      I'd say so, but the issue is that Butagumi is a different animal from the other two. Its kind of comparing the 11 Madison Park hot dog cart to the usual offerings...

                    2. re: Uncle Yabai

                      Where was my phone call? I'm there next time for sure.

                      1. re: lost squirrel

                        Ar! Sorry about that, lah. Shall we set up a date? Let's bring Asomaniac along, he's been MIA too long. On Tuesday went to the food truck around 1:00 PM, but the damn chicken dude was already out. But the Banh Mi dude still had sandos. Go figure.

                        1. re: Uncle Yabai

                          What? Banh Mi dude? Where, please?

                          1. re: Robb S

                            Near our respective offices, there are a few lunch trucks that show up.
                            One is the Chiyoda Platform Village in Kanda and the other is behind the Sankei Building (?) in Otemachi.

                            On Tuesdays in Otemachi, you can get pretty good rotisserie chicken with herbed rice or roasted potatoes or both. Also on Tuesday is a truck called Elephant Box, which has 400yen bahn mi sandos along with pho and other thai specialties. The 'vietnam sandwiches' are pretty good for 400yen, although a little light on ingredients.

                            EDIT:: Elephant Box is at the Forum neo-stall village on Thursdays as well:

                            1. re: lost squirrel

                              Ah, thanks. I guess I'm not in Otemachi very often at lunchtime....

                      2. re: Uncle Yabai

                        Well, time for another round at the Butagumi. The tencho was his usual gobusatashite orimasu, but they had the Iberico menchikatsu. If I was to have a coronary, make it such it is after eating that, at least die happy.

                        1. re: Uncle Yabai

                          when i think about japan, a lot of the time I'm thinking about when I ate at Butagumi. Hopefully next time I go they will have some Iberico

                          1. re: davew666

                            just visited again, and they had Iberico on the menu. Wow. Best pork I have ever tasted.

                    3. Is a reservation 2-3 days in advance is enough?
                      Or have to be long before that?

                      BTW, here are Kimukatsu pictures.
                      What I like about them is that they are very juicyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy. Yum =D~~~

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: CPMK

                        I usually just show up, place fills up, but have yet to wait for more than a few minutes.

                        1. re: Uncle Yabai

                          Thanks, Yabai jisan.
                          Will go there in Late Sept.
                          Can not wait. ( >_< )

                            1. re: lost squirrel

                              I had been looking forward to sampling Butagumi and finally went last night. I was slightly disappointed that the Iberico one was so fatty. It's very good, but maybe I shold'e selected a more lean meat. Out of the 20 or so types of pork they list on the menu, only a handful was available. We also tried the Hungarian meat (not bad) and one Japanese (sorry forgot the name). The Japanese one is the least expensive, most lean and tastes the best for me.

                      2. Butagumi sounds fantastic, absolutely love the idea of a menu with such a wide-ranging selection of pork breeds and cuts.

                        Can anyone give me any indication of prices, either for a la carte or for any sets available.

                        Would like to add this to my list but need to get a better handle on pricing to work it into my total budget.

                        Thank you!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Kavey

                          Actually, I've found a lot of pricing information in this review: