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Where can I find the best Katsu-Don?

It seems most Japanese places just can't make it at all.

Either the curry is plain awful, the tonkatsu is overfried/dried/tough or worse; both.

So I'm willing to drive anywhere within Los Angeles area and maybe a little further if I get a few days off work. Reason for my obsession is that I would like to serve it in my own restaurant one day and I want to see how my style compares to the rest.

Appreciate any help.

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  1. I've only tried it at a few places myself. Foo Foo Tei, Curry House (various LA locations), Hurry Curry, Ojiya, and Daikokuya. Yes some of those are more of ramen places. Ojiya was the place I liked the most. It comes with a side salad with the yummiest dressing I've ever had.

    327 E 1st St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

    Hurry Curry
    12825 Venice Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90066

    Ojiya Restaurant
    15904 Gale Ave, Hacienda Heights, CA 91745

    1. Well this is not a Japanese restaurant per say, but Wako is a tonkatsu house run by Koreans in K town with 2 locations that I crave about once a month or so. Choice of pork or chicken or beef or seafood, but I stick with pork. They give you toasted sesame seeds that you grind yourself at the table to add to the tonkatsu sauce, which is fun for the kids (and kid in you). I believe the 2nd location is on Olympic. Yes I realize only the pork should be called Tonkatsu but what are you gonna do.

      Wako Tonkatsu (Donkatsu)
      3377 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA‎ - (213) 381-9256‎

      1 Reply
      1. re: jysh

        I love that place and it has the best tonkatsu I've had in LA.

      2. I have had katsudon at many places in LA and nothing has come close to Japan. Even if the tonkatsu were good (which it usually isn't), most places overcook the egg because American people get freaked out when they see runny eggs all over their katsu, even though that's how it's supposed to be. I've never been to Wako. It should be noted that Wako has stolen the name of one of the most successful tonkatsu chains in Japan, and is not the same company. Torafuku probably has the best tonkatsu I've had in Los Angeles, although it can be a little greasy on occasion. It's not phenomenal, but I eat it about once a month when I get a tonkatsu craving. They are one of the few places that leaves a rind of fat on the pork, which gives it proper richness. That said, I'm still in search of both decent katsudon, and Japanese quality tonkatsu. Considering every Japanese restaurant I'm comparing to makes nothing but tonkatsu, I'm not anticipating a breakthrough in any restaurant that also serves sushi and a bunch of other stuff.

        11 Replies
        1. re: la2tokyo

          Runny egg? Since when? It's a dredged in egg and panko cutlet which is fried. I have never had a pork cutlet with runny egg in Japan and I am not sure how it's even possible.
          I do however agree that there is nowhere in LA that I have been to that prepares and cooks the meat properly.

          1. re: cls

            when it's served donburi style it's served with eggs scrambled soft with some of the sauce ect..

            1. re: cls

              Tonkatsu and katsu-don are not the same thing. Katsu-don is tonkatsu that is made as usual, sliced and put in a pan of simmering sauce (similar in taste to tempura sauce), over which a raw scrambled egg is drizzled. This cooks for a few seconds until the egg is partially set, and then the whole thing is scooped onto the top of a bowl of rice. Katsu-ju is exactly the same thing in a laquered box instead of a bowl - katsu-ju is probably slightly more common that katsu-don in most restaurants.

              There's a katsu specialist in Torrance called Kagura that I've been meaning to go to, and they have katsu-ju on the menu. Maybe start there and let us know how it is? I can go next week and report back, but I prefer plain tonkatsu to katsu-don so I'd have to try that first ; )


              BTW I just realized the original post mentioned curry. There's no curry in Katsu-don - that's curry-katsu. Finding good curry-katsu is even more difficult because people who make Japanese curry don't know how to make tonkatsu and vice-versa. There is also kind of a stigma attached to it as it's kind of viewed as a bastardization. There is a saying among tonkatsu lovers: "Curry katsu is an insult to curry and an insult to katsu". I didn't just make that up. I like curry katsu but searching it out is like finding the best bistro fries and Texas chili combined in the ultimate chili fries - not gonna happen in this lifetime.

              1652 Cabrillo Ave., Torrance, CA 90501

              1. re: la2tokyo

                thanks for being a bit clearer than I was.

                I am looking for the best tonkatsu in general but I want to try it in several forms, in katsu-don, curry katsu, and just by itself.

                I love curry, and to me its a comfort food. When I discovered katsu curry in my youth I was instantly in love. Simple comfort food but I feel Japanese curry is a bit simple and its become an obsession of mine to create a complex yet familiar Japanese curry and to create tonkatsu which is super tender inside while being perfectly crispy on the out.

                Next week I have some time off so I may just have a tonkatsu exploration day. If I do I'll try to post pics and impressions in order to satiate my odd obsession.

                1. re: Johnny L

                  Check out Koraku, kind of a Japanese coffee shop type place. They have katsu-don, I'm sure you can ask for the egg as you like it.
                  The original location is on 2nd Street in Little Tokyo and understand there's a location in Sherman Oaks.

                  314 E 2nd St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

                  1. re: monku

                    There's a Koraku in Torrance too. Open 'til 1 or 2 am so you can go get a katsudon right now! Their ramen is terrible but the potato croquettes are the bomb. I never had their tonkatsu, but they have the best ramen-shop-style fried rice I've had in LA, even though the portion is meager.

                    1. re: la2tokyo

                      I like their ramen, especially the Popeye ramen....pork and spinach, something about that broth is interesting.
                      You're right, the best fried rice.

                    2. re: monku

                      Katsudon at Koraku in Little Tokyo

                      314 E 2nd St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

                  2. re: la2tokyo

                    la2tokyo: When I saw the picture in your link I thought that it looks just like a dish served at TOT on 2nd Street in Little Tokyo -- then the my eyes scanned immediately up and saw Teishokuya of Tokyo (aka TOT).

                    Johnny L: TOT has a several pork cutlets on its menu: Katsu & Egg (no rice), Hitokuchi Katsu, Katsu Don, Pork Cutlet Curry, Premium Port Cutlet, and Pork Tender Cutlet.

                    Edit to add: I don't know if TOT still uses Berkshire Pork for its katsu but it used to. Yum.

                    345 E. 2nd Street, LA 90012
                    (213) 680-0344
                    11:30am – 11PM; 7 days a week

                    T. O. T. Restaurant
                    345 W 2nd St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

                2. re: la2tokyo

                  I actually knew that they had "stolen" the name Wako but nevertheless, it's the best tonkatsu I've had in LA so far. I don't think you can get the same quality of Katsudon or tonkatsu as the best in Japan, similar to how many threads talk about the quality of Ramen in LA vs Japan.

                  1. re: la2tokyo

                    Torafuku has my second favorite, but the humble Wako in K-town is better!

                    Torafuku Restaurant
                    10914 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064

                  2. Alright thanks for the suggestions everybody! I'll try to make my way through hopefully 5 of the places on my list.

                    1. i love great katsu don and i think ducks in san gabriel has the best katsu don...eggs done perfectly and great sauce with onion

                      1. I have completely switched over to torikatsu-kare. The chicken just is so much better than the pork version to me. But they have both at Sawtelle Kitchen and the other upside at SK is that their curry sauce is a much deeper, more tasty version than found most places. I also get it at Hurry Curry of Tokyo (not the other one which was linked here first and which is on Venice Blvd. and is an Indian food place - which I figure got inappropriately 'auto linked' here) on Sawtelle Blvd. just a bit north of Olympic Blvd. on the west side of the street in the same little mini mall with Restaurant 2117, Little Hong Kong Chinese and Kinchan Ramen.

                        Sawtelle Kitchen
                        2024 Sawtelle Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025

                        Hurry Curry of Tokyo
                        2131 Sawtelle Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025

                        Restaurant 2117
                        2117 Sawtelle Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025

                        Little Hong Kong Cafe
                        2129 Sawtelle Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025

                        2119 Sawtelle Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Servorg

                          I just had katsu chicken for the first time at Sawtelle Kitchen and I went from very grump (went for pork katsu and they were out) to deeply impressed. It was excellent.

                          Sawtelle Kitchen
                          2024 Sawtelle Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025

                        2. I'm assuming you mean "tonkatsu" which is the actual pork cutlet. "Katsu" is the Japanization of the English word "cutlet". Katsudon is tonkatsu served on rice. The dish you described is actually "katsu-kare" or tonkatsu in curry sauce.

                          My favorite tonkatsu is Torafuku, which has been mentioned and is pricey. I haven't been to Japan in a while, but my brother, a katsu kare fan, continually raves about the quality tonkatsu he's had in Japan. It seems that Japan has a higher quality pork than what we have here in the US.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: Ogawak

                            Probably due to the way Japanese farmers tend to raise pigs. The government subsidizes farmers so they don't feel the need to increase their output to keep up with inflation and thus keep producing smaller quantities but also higher quality due to mostly allowing their animals to roam freely.

                            1. re: Johnny L

                              Just an observation, backed up by a Tokyo-born friend. Tonkatsu locally is overcooked and tends to be dry. Not that either of us has tried every place in town, but generally the case. Maybe health-code related, like burgers commonly being vulcanized?

                              1. re: Akitist

                                Burgers (or pork) being overcooked have nothing to do with any health code restrictions (of which there are none) and everything to do with law suit fearing corporations and insurance companies.

                          2. The best Tonkatsu Curry I've ever had was at Foo Foo Tei in Hacienda Heights.
                            You can have the best non pork Shio Ramen also.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: jblee

                              Oh I've never bothered to try the Tonkatsu curry there because its a Ramen-Ya and I was thinking they wouldn't have great curry katsu.

                              1. re: Johnny L

                                It was recommended by the Exilekiss.
                                The curry was one of the best. The tonkatsu was not bad either.

                            2. I like the Katsu Don at Suehiro Cafe on First Street in Little Tokyo, a Japanese diner.

                              Suehiro Cafe
                              337 E 1st St, Los Angeles, CA 90012