Thursday, June 3, 2010

Yamato Tonkatsu, Kanda (大和)

This whole 大和 thing, I don't quite get it. It means something like 'Japanese spirit', that's clear, but is there a difference between reading it 'daiwa' and 'yamato'? One amusing thing is that my company has a direct competitor that uses the first reading. In what I presume was a bid to show national pride, our company symbol is a mountain (yama) under which is a small ト, 'to'. It's kinda cute.

One thing I DO get, I really get, I've internalized it, it's in my heart, it's in my soul, it'll be my breath should I grow old, is tonkatsu. And katsu curry. Because there aren't many things better than breaded and deep-fried pork cutlets (the first time I typed that I mis-typed 'deep-friend', but that's almost as appropriate, isn't it?), especially when you top them with a curry. ムワハハハ!

Many's the time I've thought about going to Yamato - it's down an alley, the door is small, the facade is greezy (actually the whole alley is greezy). All these are potential indicators of potential spectacular success taste-wise, or indeed of potential craptacular failure. Today I was out with the visiting-from-London Philthy, and after getting turned down at Budoya (out of rice again. Wazzaaaaapp?) the katsu called me.

So yeah, at this place you can get a katsu, or you can get a katsu curry, or you can get a menchi katsu, nothing else (oh, soup. extra charge). We both had curries. Best ever? No. Real product, idiosyncratic, interesting, good? Yep. Cheep? Oh yes, Y900 with curry. To get a similar cutlet at Yamaichi you'd pay twice the price (note also, diminishing returns and all that). The weird thing is that I think this was the real deal, sliced thick off a massive hunk of hog just before cooking, rather than the mediocre pork you'd expect for the price and with the curry topping. Heavily breaded with what an American these days would no doubt call Panko Breadcrumbs. Fried dark brown. Home-made curry with lots of big onion pieces, and some meat (chicken?!). The rice was overcooked, but the ceiling was low, the curtains were plastic, and the interior was as delightfully sticky and dank as the exterior.

This place is the real deal for cheap-lunch hunters who are delightfully amused in a modish way by authentically greasy dives. I can't quite give it the coveted 'recommended' tag, but I sure do recommend that you try it as a tasty diversion. You shouldn't want or need perfection every day; it's tiring.

ムワハハハ インディード。

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