Tonkatsu is something that Pad adores. It’s probably the one Japanese dish he won’t be able to live without. Just mentioning the word makes his face light up like a kid being let out of school during the day before summer break. That’s primarily the reason why we found ourselves seated in Tampopo, a Japanese restaurant the first day of our most recent vacation in Singapore.
We had no plans to eat at Tampopo. It was just one of the many restaurants that our friend Rabbit suggested when we decided to stop for lunch. When she mentioned all sorts of tonkatsu though, our fate was sealed and all other restaurants dropped out of contention.
The special thing about Tampopo’s Tonkatsu is their use of kurobuta or black pork. A rare black pig that’s highly prized in Japan, kurobuta is to pig as wagyu is to beef. Juicy, flavorful, tender and heavily marbled with thin layers of fat, it promised to be epic tonkatsu. We ordered a set of the regular tonkatsu and their special layer cutlet moriawase to share.
True enough, the kurobuta tonkatsu was wonderful. Crisp outer covering, tender pork fillet, with just the right amount of marbling to make it tasty without being fatty. There’s a bit more premium to its price, but you can tell at a bite why it’s more expensive.
The other interesting thing we ordered was the special layer cutlet moriawase. Basically, it’s a platter of different kinds of stuffed tonkatsu. Think super thin slices of pork, rolled around a filling, before being breaded and fried. Our order had slices of cheese, ume (pickled plum), prawn, mentaiko (spicy cod roe) and tako (octopus), topped with bonito shavings.
The nice thing about this platter is having a taste of everything. The cheese was everybody’s favorite, but I enjoyed the mentaiko as well, even if nobody else agreed with me. The ume offered an interesting sour and salty bite. The tako was prepared like takoyaki; it was slathered with kewpie mayonnaise and bonito flakes that shook with the slightest of movements.
If you’re bored of the usual tonkatsu, Tampopo is a great place to visit. Whether you order the plain kurobuta or the fun stuffed ones, this place will surely satisfy your cravings for crisp, flavorful and delicious tonkatsu.