The Place Located near Takadanobaba Station along the JR Yamamote Line, Narikura is easily one of the best tonkatsu I have ever eaten in Tokyo, and is without surprise on the Michelin Bib Gourmand list. The queue usually extends to the small road beside the restaurant, located at a basement of a nondescript old building where the queue extends from the basement stairway all the way to street level on most days.
With less than 30 seater capacity, we were ushered to a corner table though you can watch all the kitchen action if you were sitting at the row of counter seats. The crowd is a mix of locals and foreigners with local Japanese being the majority.
The Food The most challenging part of the menu is that it is all in Japanese and we took awhile to decipher the various options. As a guide, there are two main types of pork to go for – Rosu/ロース (loin) or Hire/ヒレ (fillet). Go for loin if you favour more fats in your meat, which also means Rosu is usually more tender than Hire.
We went for two different types of tonkatsu, with both being rosu (loin) options. The Kiramugi (煌麦豚) [190g/3200yen] we had is touted as one of the best pork in the world, being an Aguu breed pork from Okinawa. The first bite I had was mind blowing. The texture was very tender, coupled with its crisp batter and fatty flavours. To be fair, I waited for about an hour in the queue which might also explain part of my positive vibes about the pork. It is the best tonkatsu I have tasted in Tokyo so far.
The other cut we tried was the Snow-aged Pork (雪室熟成豚) [190g/3200yen] from Niigata. The difference between this and the Kiramugi was quite marginal for me, though the snow-aged pork is arguably more tender. For both cuts, the batter is very light and crisp without coming across as too greasy.
All tonkatsu orders are also served with sliced raw cabbage, potato salad, small serving of Japanese pickles and a bowl of miso soup with sliced pork.
Rants As with most small tonkatsu restaurants in Tokyo, there is a no reservation policy so be prepared to wait in line, rain or shine. The underground basement restaurant is also relatively dim if food photography is your concern.
Will I Return Again? Narikura tonkatsu is easily one of the best tonkatsu I have ever had. Unlike Tonki or Maisen, the crowd is less touristy while I found the tonkatsu to be more tender and tasty than the rest. Highly recommended if you are a true blue tonkatsu lover who is picky about the tenderness of the pork and texture of the batter.
Taste bud: 4/5
Hole in the pocket: 4/5
Overall Experience: 4/5
1 Chome-32-11 Takadanobaba, Shinjuku, Tokyo 169-0075, Japan
Tel: +81 3-6380-3823
Monday to Sunday: 11am to 1.30pm; 5.30pm to 8pm
Closed on Thursday and Sunday
Ranted by The Ranter