11 E47th Street, Between 5th and Madison (B, D, F, V to Rockefeller Center)
Dinner Entrée, Drink, Tax and Tip: About $20
Arguably, the most talked-about Japanese food is sushi. Highly debated, some love and others hate raw fish, while the rest are just too afraid or close-minded to even bother trying. However, Japanese food isn’t solely (no pun intended) about the uncooked fish, or the additionally common order of teriyaki. Katsu-Hama glorifies one of Japan’s less praised dishes – katsu.
For those of you unfamiliar, katsu is Japanese for cut, or cutlet; in a culinary sense, katsu is a cutlet, breaded in panko (Japanese breadcrumbs), deep fried, and served with a special sweet and savory sauce made from apples, tomatoes, onions, and a blend of spices. It is an experience few words can describe, but you’ll feel right at home with its robust flavor.
Even if you are familiar with katsu, the trip to Midtown Manhattan will be worth it. The katsu in this restaurant is far greater than any katsu I’ve had elsewhere. The meat is tender and juicy, and the panko is crisp and mild. The katsu sauce tastes fresher than the standard katsu sauce found in most other places, making other sauces appear as congealed goo next to this restaurant. This restaurant even offers you a mortar and pestle of sesame seeds to flavor your food.
The main attraction, Pork Tenderloin Katsu, is $16 for a meal including rice and shredded cabbage. For the less hungry, a half-sized portion is offered at $10, and non-meal versions of each dish (no sides) are also available at a reduced price. There are also other variation of katsu, including chicken, fish, and shrimp.
While menu selection is generally limited to katsu-styled dishes, there are options presented to you. One of the options available to you is an assortment of skewered items, ala carte at $2 a piece, or a 5 piece set for $9, or a 10 piece set for $18. Also available is a shabu shabu course at $25. There are also a variety of traditional Japanese appetizers; I highly recommend the Agedashi Tofu and the Berkshire Pork. Unfortunately, their dessert menu is limited, but none of the three desserts offered will displease you. I also recommend the plum wine to accompany your meal.
It’s good to be adventurous when you eat, but not everybody has the stomach to handle it. Rest assured, however, you’ll feel right at home with the food from Katsu-Hama; their exquisitely prepared fried dishes and savory sauce will quickly find a place in your heart.
~ Setsuna Setsunai