August 17, 2016
EAT

The Only Entertainment
You Can See Here

ここでしか見られれない「とんかつエンタテインメント」

Sushi and tempura, these two may be the world class Japanese food that come to your mind first. Ramen and curry are also getting popular and favoured by foreigners nowadays. Although, you are forgetting one more important Japanese dish, and that is Ton Katsu. If you don’t know what it is, Ton means “pork” and Katsu means “deep fried”, and as you can now imagine it is deep fried pork dish. In Japan it is thought to be auspicious as Katsu also means “winning” and is normally favoured on a day of a game, or any event where “winning” is important.
Whether or not they know about this hidden meaning, there is a restaurant in Meguro where the floor is filled full with many foreign tourists. We’ll dig into its secret this time.
世界に誇る日本の食といえば「寿司」に「天ぷら」、最近は「ラーメン」や「カレー」も和食として海外の観光客に人気だという。でも、忘れてほしくないのが「とんかつ」。日本では、「勝つ」の語呂合わせからここぞという勝負の日にいただく人も多い「縁起のいいごちそう」なのだから。
そんなことを知ってか知らずか、多いときには1/3が外国人のお客さんで席が埋まるという、海外からの観光客にも大人気のとんかつの名店が目黒にある。その魅力を探ります。

Classic Restaurant With 77 Years Of Establishment
On the First Floor Counter

The restaurant is located just about one minute walk from Meguro station. Tonki is a classic ton katsu restaurant in Tokyo which every one comes up with its name when you ask for a good ton katsu place. It is easy to spot the shop with its iconic white flag on its entrance with big letterings saying “Ton Katsu”. The shop welcomes this year, its 77th year since its opening. They have relocated and refurbished some of its interior, so the shop now is full of cleanness to the point you may not be able to spot their long history. There is one big counter table on the first floor, and table seatings on the second. If you are visiting this place for the very first time, then please do fight to sit at the counter table on the first floor. One of the biggest joy of eating at this place is to look at the chefs amazing works inside the counter table. In fact, there are people wait for the counter table when the second floor normal seatings are available.
There are usually six chefs behind the counter and each of them are allocated to different jobs, where one checks its finished pork, cuts the fried pork, and there is also the one who garnishes the plates. This work flow is the key to all of your orders being so perfect.

創業77年の老舗
まずは1階カウンターで

目黒駅から徒歩1分。白地に大きく「とんかつ」と書かれたのれんが目印の「とんき」は、東京でとんかつと言えば必ず名が上がる名店中の名店だ。創業は昭和14年、今年で77年目を迎える。現在の店舗は移転、改装したもので、店内は一見してその歴史が想像できないほどすっきりと清潔感にあふれている。1階に大きなコの字型のカウンター席、2階にテーブル席と座敷があるが、初めて訪れる方はぜひ、というか絶対、1階のカウンターで食べてほしい。というのも、この「とんき」を訪れる大きな楽しみの一つが、カウンター内の職人たちの姿を眺めることなのだ。実際に、2階席は空いていても、カウンターで食べたいからと待つお客さんも多いようだ。
カウンター内では、常時、6名ほどの職人が立ち働いている。衣をつける、揚がり具合を確認する、とんかつを切る、キャベツなどの付け合わせを用意する、など、それぞれ担当をもち、分業で行っているのだが、この流れが見事なのだ。

Can’t Take Your Eyes Off

There are three different kinds of pork at Tonki ranging from pork loin, pork fillet, and pork skewers. Once the order is made, it is the chef who is in charge of making its batter that makes his first move. He puts some flour to the pork and then tap the pork lightly to drop excess flour. He then makes the pork swim inside the mixed egg for one time. Normally the next step will be to coat the egged pork with breadcrumb and then to oil. However what Tonki chefs do is different. They sprinkle the pork with flour again, and then egg them again. Oh, so they do the flour and egg twice! But that’s not it, they do the process one more time! Then finally after doing the process for three times they coat the pork with breadcrumb and lead them into a heated pot of 100% lard oil. This is about two to three minutes after ordering.
They deep fry the pork slowly with low temperatured lard oil, which is around 150~160 degrees. It is quite low temperature considering the fact they are frying pork. The second generation of the restaurant’s master, Mr Yoshihara aged 77, is standing right next to the pot and will check its finishing.
Just about twenty minutes of the very first order made, the master wipes his knife with a cloth softly. People watching him will stretches their backs as you can sense something will happen. Just fried pork is placed onto a cutting board, and is cut smoothly into pieces. Pork is now placed onto a plate, which comes with shredded cabbage and tomatoes and then is served to customers following with a bowl of rice, pickles, and miso soup.

This takes about tewnty minutes in total for the dishes to be served to customers. Maybe if the same waiting happens in other restaurants you may feel it is taking too much time, but at Tonki you won’t feel that way at all. It is too entertaining when looking at the chefs working on their parts, and will never bore you while waiting. In fact there are many who wants to record it with their phones.

思わず見入ってしまう
手際よい仕事

「とんき」のかつは「ロースかつ」「ヒレかつ」「串かつ」の3種類。注文を受けると、まずは衣の担当の職人が動く。肉に小麦粉をたっぷりとかけると軽く叩いて余分な粉を落とし、卵液にくぐらせる。普通のとんかつならここでパン粉をつけて油へ。ところが「とんき」は違う。肉は再び小麦粉をまぶされ、もう一度卵液につかる。「あ、2度付けのタイプね」と思うのもつかの間、さらに小麦粉、卵へ! ここでようやくパン粉をまとい、100%ラードの鍋に投入される。ここまで注文から2~3分。
ラードは150~160度と揚げ物にしては比較的低い温度で、ゆっくりと時間をかけて揚げる。ここで登場するのが、このお店の顔ともいえる2代目の吉原功輝さん(77歳)。鍋の横に立ち、揚がり具合を確認する。
その日最初のお客さんの注文が入ってから約20分ほどたったころ、2代目が定位置にセットされた包丁を、すっと布巾で拭いた。見つめるお客さんたちも、いよいよとばかりに背筋を伸ばす。揚げたてのとんかつがまな板にのせられると、すっトントンと包丁を入れる。あっという間に切り分けられたとんかつは、絶妙のタイミングで出されるキャベツやトマトがのったお皿に盛り付けられ、これまたぴったり見計らって用意されたごはん、豚汁、お新香とともにお客さんに配された。
注文してから20分というと、普通の飲食店なら「まだ?」とイライラしてしまいそうだが、「とんき」ではあっという間に感じてしまう。テキパキと手際のよい職人たちの動きは、日本人でも見惚れてしまうが、海外からのお客さんからしたら、とっても日本的なエンタテインメントなのではないだろうか。スマホで写真や動画を撮影するお客さんも少なくないという。

Crispy Texture and Juicy Meat

Last of all but not least to mention is of course, the pork. Bon apetit!
What is surprising is the texture of its batter. It is crispy and crunchy, and you can taste the egg that is being used in the batter. You now understand the reason for coating the pork with flour and eggs for three times. The batter itself is already too tastefull. When the loin is rolled in this batter it becomes juicy inside, and when fillet does it becomes moist inside. If you order their pork skewers they will come with sweet leek which makes a perfect match to pork fillet. This is different from other restaurants again since normal places use onions for skewers.
The most popular menu to foreigners apparently is pork fillet, as that’s what is on top of their English menu. Though pork loin is becoming more and more popular.
Another thing Tonki is so much more unique is that, not only their main actor the pork, but also its supporting actors such as cabbages, miso soup, and the pickles are playing big roles on the plate at well. Every characters are at its finest.

You may think “Tonki is an entertainment!” while you watch the chefs doing their magical work and waiting for your dish to come. Once you bite the fried pork, you then realize that you have come to taste this special bite. it is the specialty deep fried pork that you can only experience here.

カリッとした衣に
ジューシーな肉

そして、肝心のとんかつだ。さあ、いただきます!
まず驚くのは、衣の食感。しっかりと歯ごたえのある香ばしい衣で、ほんのり卵の風味が感じられる。やはり決め手は、小麦粉、卵の3度付け。衣だけでもおいしいくらいだ。
その衣に包まれたお肉は…ロースはジューシー、ヒレはしっとりとした仕上がり。串かつは、玉ねぎを使うとんかつ店が多いが、「とんき」では試行錯誤を重ね、甘みのある長ネギを使用。ヒレと相性抜群だ。
さらに「とんき」がすごいのは、キャベツもごはんも豚汁もお新香も抜群なこと。すべてがスキのないおいしさなのだ。
外国人のお客さんたちに人気のメニューは何かと尋ねると、以前はヒレかつが人気だったそうだが、その理由は「たぶん英語のメニューでいちばん上に載っているから(笑)」。最近はロースかつの注文も多い。
注文し、待っている間には「とんきはエンタテイメントだ」と感心し、職人たちの無駄のない連携した動きやサービスにふれるために訪れたような気持になる。
そして目の前に出されたとんかつを一口いただくと、「やっぱり、このとんかつを食べに来たんだった!」と納得させられる。まさにここでしか味わえない、特別なとんかつだ。

SHOP INFO

Tonki

Address: 1-1-2, Shimomeguro, Meguro-ku, Tokyo
Tatematsu Mansion 101
Tel: 03-3491-9928

Store Opening Hours
Mon~Fri 16:00 ~ 22:45 (Last Order)
CLOSING: Tuesdays, every third Mondays.

とんき

住所:東京都目黒区下目黒1-1-2
TEL:03-3491-9928

営業時間:16:00~22:45 LO
定休日:火曜・第3月曜

writer / YOSHIKO OSHIMA
photographer / TOMOHIKO TAGAWA

観光案内をご希望の方は、こちらまでご連絡ください
If you would like to tourist information , please contact us

×