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Jan 14, 2010 05:16 AM


We shall be in Kyoto in late March & my Hamamatsu friend and her daughter will visit us there for a day. I'd like to take them out to lunch.
Nothing too lengthly or fancy. Price is not a concern.
Since hubby hates sushi/sashami, I was thinking along the lines of tempura or tonkatsu.
Does anyone have a recommendation for a tempura or tonkatsu resto in Kyoto for lunch?
Because we will be toddling around temples and thus unsure of our timelines, it needs to be a place that doesn't require reservations.
Thanks for your help in advance.Domo!

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  1. Any of the Katsukura branches (all over the place--Teramachi, Sanjo, Kyoto Station) will do for tonkatsu. Very casual, all you can eat rice with barley, miso soup, and cabbage, and good katsu. They're mostly in the downtown area; I'm not sure if there are restaurants in any of the temple areas.

    I've always been fond of Ten-you for tempura, but it's expensive. If you're a large group, however, it might not be the best choice as it is counter seating (the second level of the restaurant might have tables, but I've only been to the main level). In my experience, tempura in Kyoto tends to be more of a high-end, reservation-recommended experience, so perhaps katsu would be a better option for you.

    8 Replies
    1. re: prasantrin

      I just ate at a Katsukura today, and it really was very good. The breading was crunchy, the ebi and pork succulent, and the sides very good. Great yuzu-flavored dressing for the cabbage, a nice tartar sauce for the ebi (it tasted like they used sour cream), excellent pickles and soup. And I like their Kyoto-style side dishes like yuba croquettes.

      1. re: Robb S

        You got the meibutsu set? It's my favourite! That shrimp is HUGE!! I prefer rosu katsu to the hire katsu it comes with, but I'm always willing to sacrifice for that big shrimp!

        Just to add--one advantage of Katsukura is that they're open from 11 till evening, so they don't close for a few hours between lunch and dinner service. It gives more leeway for getting around, since you won't have to worry about them closing before you're ready for lunch.

        1. re: prasantrin

          the best casual tonkatsu place i know of is indeed katsukura. their main branch (they now have shops in tokyo too) is inside a shopping arcade in central kyoto. shopping arcade sounds quite awful but this arcade is more open-air and the shop is tucked away to the side and really cozy and just overall great. This is the address: 京都市中京区河原町通三条西入ル. I'd suggest you print this out and ask a cab driver to get you as close as possible. As this is in a shopping arcade, you will need to walk a few meters.

          If this is too complicated just go to their location at the top floor of Kyoto Station West. (


          As for the food I would suggest to pick the highest quality pork they have ("ヒレかつ"), that is just the most expensive item. It should be in the 20-25 dollars range, which is a good deal. together with the tonkatsu you get cabbage, rice and soup as well as pickles as much as you want. they have a really nice "smoky" tea.

          additionally you -must- order their slow-cooked fatty pork as a starter ("豚の角煮") as well as their spring veggies ("春の野菜の炊き合わせ").

          1. re: Scharn

            The hire katsu is priced according to weight with 70grams starting out at Y1100. The largest one is 160 grams.

            But their special pork is 米沢三元--comes as hire or rosu.

            The meibutsu set (my favourite) is just over Y1700.

            1. re: prasantrin

              one more thing: katsukura staff will happily explain this, but it helps to know: at the beginning of the meal you get a bowl with sesame that is in fact a mortar. -you- grind the sesame in that thing (i like it really fine), then later you add sauce into the same bowl and dip the meat in. they have 3 kinds of sauces: two alternatives that could be used as that dip, the third one goes on the cabbage. don't mix them up. =)

          2. re: prasantrin

            Yes, the meibutsu set (I think the official name was Katsukura-zen). Although here in the capital they charge Y1980 for it - maybe it costs money to ship all those special sauces from Kyoto.

            And you're right - all their Tokyo branches are open all day long; I never noticed that.

            So, hire vs. rosu.... I always automatically get the hire, because in lesser establishments when I've had the rosu it's come with giant chunks of pure fat. I always assumed the Japanese preference for rosu was a leftover from the days when meat was much scarcer, so cholesterol was less of a concern. But is the rosu worth trying at Katsukura?

            1. re: Robb S

              I like rosu better because I find it to be more tender. There's not a huge amount of fat on Katsukura's rosu; I don't think they could get away with large amounts given the type of restaurant it is. I find the hire to be too lean and less flavourful (but I'm Asian, and Asians have an affinity for fatty meats in general. :-) )

              One thing about the sauces--some of the restaurants have only one sauce in addition to the dressing, but some have two sauces (one sweeter than the other) plus the dressing. And even if there are two sauces, some restaurants will give you an extra little bowl for the second sauce, but some won't so then you can't try both sauces. I wonder if Katsukura is a franchise, because it should be more standardised if it's all under the same ownershop.

              The 米沢三元 hire has more fat than the regular hire, iirc, but not so much more. It's supposed to be more flavourful, but I've never done a side-by-side comparison. On the website, it says the Shinjuku location has 桃園ロース, and it's the only location that serves it. I wonder what that pork is like.

              The shrimp + hire is 名物 かつくら膳. Have I been saying it wrong all these years? Leave it to me! :-) By the way, if you're going with someone who likes to share, it's a better value to get one 海老かつ膳 along with one of whatever katsu (cut and size) you want, and share. Although the shrimp (5 pieces) are not as big as with the 名物 かつくら膳, it's cheaper, but then you have to argue about who gets the extra shrimp!

              The Kansai menu is here and the shop location list for Kansai is here (Kyoto locations start at the top).

              Another thing--at least in Kyoto, some of the restaurants have English-language menus. Helpful if you don't read Japanese.

              1. re: prasantrin

                Thanks for the rosu explanation. I remember the shrimp + hire combination was called 名物 かつくら膳 on my menu - I had just assumed the 名物 was a description rather than part of the name of the dish.

                Oh, and now I know what that second little sauce bowl was for - I ended up just ignoring it.

                Maybe I'll give the Momozono (Momoen?) pork a try next time - the Shinjuku branch is just a short walk from home.

      2. Thank you all so much for your replies.
        It's unanimous.
        KATSUKURA it is!
        Domo arigato goziumus!