Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Spanish Iberico Pork Tonkatsu at Tonkatsu by Terazawa

The tonkatsu scene seems to have taken a backseat to the overwhelming ramen craze that has taken over the fair city of Man-illa. I have still to understand why noodles has taken over the imagination of Filipinos, willing to shell out a little under P500 for a bowl of broth, noodles, and porcine part. The only noodle god I recognize and worship is the Black Butao of Awesomeness.

And then there's the tonkatsu scene with the humble breaded pork cutlet done every which way. I've had the Hire, Rosu, and Kurobuta, but I was curious to taste Tonkatsu by Terazawa's Spanish Iberico Pork version. So - my curiosity needing to be satiated - Jericho and a few of our friends went to The Bistro Group's katsu baby in Greenbelt to see and taste the difference for ourselves.

Read more on The Bistro Group's other restaurants:
All Night Happy Hour at Village Tavern
Bulgogi Brother's New Barbecue Specials
Modern Shanghai's Guide to the Xiao Long Bao
Celebrating Chinese New Year at Modern Shanghai
Saturday with the Bulgogi Brothers

I had never set foot in Tonkatsu by Terazawa before, and it was a nice change to come into a katsu place with eyes wide open. The design of the restaurant had a modern and sleek meets traditional calligraphy vibe, and I liked the fake katsu sets on display by the windows - it's so very Japanese.

Chef Terazawa, a native of Nagoya, Japan, and now owner of the Japanese-Western chain in Asia, one challenged himself to make the best tonkatsu in town. His ambition became a reality when he established his first restaurant about 20 years ago in the place where he grew up.

Chef Terazawa prepares and cooks his tonkatsu using the traditional method. The secret to a tender and flavorful pork cutlet lies on the natural way of aging the meat - wrapping it in white cloth for three days before coating it with nama panko and deep-frying it 'til it turns a beautiful shade of brownish gold.

My order Spanish Iberico Tonkatsu Set (P595) arrived very quickly after I had ordered it. Every set comes with refillable Japanese white rice (or brown, if you prefer), shredded cabbage, and piping hot tonjiru - a miso soup with chopped up vegetables and small chunks of pork. Each set also comes with small dishes of shredded corn in ponzu sauce and okra with bonito flakes.

The Iberian pig, having lived a very spoiled life of eating all sorts of acorns, before being turned into the katsu before me. The meat had a nutty nuance to it, and was complimented nicely with a dash of ground up sesame seeds and a bowl of brown rice.

The tonkatsu is served with a dipping tray with a bit of salt. You can also opt to pour your tonkatsu sauce into the two remaining empty trays, and top one off with chili flakes and another with sesame seeds, and play around with the flavors 'til you find a blend to your liking. The trial and error is all part of the fun!

A good friend recommended that we try the Deep-Fried Oysters (P295 for 3 pieces; P495 for 5 pieces), and being the very obedient friends that were were, we did. Big, juicy Hokkaido oysters are covered in nama panko before being deep-fried 'til golden. I gave the whole thing a good dousing of lemon juice, dipped it into the creamy sauce it comes with, and took a bite. This was perfection. Crunchy on the outside yet still soft and juicy on the inside, I was surprised at how incredibly fresh this was!

Oh, and with the cross-section, it also looks like a vagina. :| But it's a very yummy vagina-looking oyster, I promise!

Wanting to try something different, my friends and I also got an order of Terazawa's new Cheese Hire Katsu (P485). I was apprehensive of all that cheese sauce at first - it looked like somebody poured Chiz Whiz on my katsu! But after giving it a try, I found the cheesiness of the sauce to be very mild, so it wasn't as cloying as I expected it to be. But then again, I only had a piece. You may want to keep the other half of the katsu cheese-free so you can offset the Japa-cheesiness with the tonkatsu sauce.

I was excited for dessert - since this is what's usually lacking at katsu places - and it started off with a slice of Caramel Cake (P295). A graham cracker crust is topped with a thick layer of rich chocolate fudge followed by a creamy, decadent New York cheesecake, finished with walnuts and a luscious splodge of burnished caramel. I wasn't expecting much, but this was sinfully good! And it had chocolate, so my cravings were quelled and I did not overturn any tables demanding for chocolate cake that day. Whew.

On the other hand, I had very high hopes for the much raved about Frozen Green Tea (P155) and I am pleased to say it did not disappoint! The graham crust was the base for the matcha filling that was then complimented with a thick layer of green tea ice cream before being topped with a soft meringue that just melts in your mouth. Literally.

I was quite happy with my Tonkatsu by Terazawa experience, and will definitely be coming back to try more of their unique dishes as well as lots and lots of dessert!

When mucking around Greenbelt in search of cuisines that's the best of both worlds, try Tonkatsu by Terazawa's Spanish Iberico Pork set and you won't be disappointed. Have fun mixing and matching tonkatsu sauces and their other condiments, and always save room for dessert!

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Tonkatsu by Terazawa 
+63 2 729 9121
Greenbelt 2, Esperanza St cor Paseo de Roxas
Legazpi Village, Makati
Open Daily: 10am - 10pm