"Beef cutlet" (known as "gyukatsu" in Japanese), a thick slice of beef breaded and deep-fried, has been a trend in Japan since around 2015. It continues to be so popular that there are often lines at specialty restaurants. In this article, we will introduce the basic way to eat beef cutlet, as well as specialty restaurants in Tokyo. Wondering where to start? Eat your way through our list of best picks here!
※The number of restaurants featured in this article, as well as the menu and its prices (including tax), are all as of August 2023. The content may have changed, so please check the official website of each store for details.
What is beef cutlet? Why is it popular in Japan?
The origin of beef cutlet (gyukatsu) can be traced back to the Meiji era (1868-1912) when the Western dish "cutlet" (a dish made by frying sliced veal coated with breadcrumbs) was introduced to Japan. The name of this dish was mispronounced and came to be known as "katsuretsu".
Initially, beef was the main ingredients. But due to beef scarcity, pork gradually became more popular among the common people. Since pork is also suitable for cutlets, pork cutlets (tonkatsu) became the mainstream everywhere except in the Kinki region where beef is preferred. However, beef cutlets then became a trend after years, and now there are even franchise restaurants specializing in beef cutlets.
How to make a basic beef cutlet?
The basic way to make beef cutlet is to coat thickly sliced beef in flour, egg, and breadcrumbs in that order, and then fry it in oil. The difference from pork cutlet is that it can be eaten just by lightly cooking it. If it is fried too much, it can become hard. In order to finish it with some red (rare) meat left, the hack is frying it in high temperature oil for a short time.
In addition to the crispy texture of the lightly fried coating, the umami of the juicy red meat is also a highlight. Also, the melting fat of the meat in your mouth and the light taste that is easy to eat even for women are reasons for its popularity. The ruby-colored cross-section of the red meat in a state close to rare is sure to look great on social media!
What is the recommended way to eat beef cutlet?
Because preparing beef cutlet is so simple, differences in each process such as ingredients and frying time can greatly affect the taste. At specialty restaurants, there are usually various flavors of sauces and condiments such as wasabi soy sauce, rock salt, and original special sauce. Some might also recommend altering your taste buds with several types of sauces, while some others ma allow you to choose the degree of grilling as well.
3 recommended specialty restaurants in Tokyo where you can enjoy delicious beef cutlets
Among the many specialty restaurants in Tokyo where you can enjoy beef cutlets in various ways, here we have put together a list of our three most favourite brands.
【Shibuya, Harajuku, Akihabara and others】GYUKATSU Kyoto Katsugyu: A specialty store born in Kyoto where you can choose from 5 parts including rare parts
Founded in 2014 in Kyoto as a specialty beef cutlet restaurant, the concept of "GYUKATSU Kyoto Katsugyu" was to create a Japanese-style side dish from the Western-style beef cutlet. One of their unique features is their cooking method, which involves frying at a carefully calculated temperature and time to bring out the maximum flavor of the meat, served medium rare. The batter, which adheres perfectly to the beef, locks in the flavor of the ingredients, resulting in a deeply flavorful beef cutlet.
You can choose from five different cuts of meat, including rare cuts such as sirloin, tongue, and chuck flap. Customers can grill the meat themselves on a hot plate at their table, while enjoying a variety of flavors, from the melting texture of medium-rare to the texture of a steak. A variety of sauces and condiments, such as wasabi soy sauce, sansho salt, and beef cutlet sauce, are available, allowing you to enjoy a change in flavor.
Must-try menu at GYUKATSU Kyoto Katsugyu ①: Kyoto Katsugyu's melt-in-your-mouth top-grade beef, "Premium Kuroge Wagyu Sirloin Cutlet Set"
Gokujo Kuroge Wagyu Sirloin Katsu Zen (極上・黒毛和牛サーロインカツ膳) / Starting from 4,939 yen (tax included)
The highest grade beef cutlet characterized by the fine texture unique to marbled Wagyu. You can fully enjoy the original flavor and sweetness of Wagyu. Enjoy the first slice to savour the melting sashimi-like texture with wasabi soy sauce, then grill it on an iron plate for a juicy steak-like umami.
Must-try menu at Gyukatsu Kyoto Katsugyu ②: Intense flavor! Indulge in the "Haneshita" delicacy with "Chuck tail flap GYUKATSU ZEN"
Chuck tail flap GYUKATSU ZEN (牛ロースカツ膳) / Starting from 2,079 yen (tax included)
A beef loin cutlet set using the rare part of the beef, "Haneshita" (chuck flap), where the umami of the beef is concnetrated. It is the original beef cutlet of "Kyoto Katsugyu" which you can fully enjoy the taste of beef lean meat. Various flavor can be enjoyed in just one meal, such as wasabi soy sauce, sansho salt, beef cutlet sauce, and Japanese-style curry dipping sauce.
Example of branch:
- 【GYUKATSU Kyoto Katsugyu Shibuya Dogenzaka Branch】
Address: B1F Century Shibuya, 1-19-14 Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Access: 5 minutes walk from "Shibuya Station" on each line
- 【GYUKATSU Kyoto Katsugyu Harajuku Meiji Street Branch】
Address: B1F Harajuku TK Building, 4-31-11 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Access: 1 minute walk from "Meiji Jingumae Station" on the Tokyo Metro. 5 minutes walk from "Harajuku Station" on the JR line
- 【GYUKATSU Kyoto Katsugyu Yodobashi Akiba Branch】
Address: 8F Yodobashi Akiba, 1-1 Kanda Hanaokacho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Access: Directly connected to "Akihabara Station" on each line
- *8 branches in Kyoto, 15 branches in Tokyo, 5 branchs in Kanagawa, 7 branches in Osaka, 5 branches in Aichi, 3 branches in Fukuoka
- Official website: https://gyukatsu-kyotokatsugyu.com/
【Ueno, Shibuya, Ikebukuro and others】Gyukatsu Motomura: Fried for 60 seconds! Enjoy with a grilling stone and mountain wasabi sauce!
"Gyukatsu Motomura" is said to be one of the restaurants that sparked the beef cutlet boom. In Japanese food culture, where the image of cutlets is strongly associated with pork cutlets, this specialty restaurant has been the catalyst for promoting beef cutlets all over Japan.
The commitment of this restaurant is to bring out the original deliciousness of beef cutlet by setting the frying time to about 60 seconds. The beef, dressed in a thin batter, is brought to the table in a medium-rare state. Once you've thoroughly grilled the beautifully reddish cross-section of the thinly cut beef cutlet on the table's grilling stone, it's ready to eat.
Another commitment as a beef cutlet specialty restaurant is the variety of the menu. Basically, the main dish is only beef cutlet, and you choose the number of grams, side dishes, and drinks.
Must-try menu at Gyukatsu Motomura: "Beef cutlet set meal With 3 side dishes" that you can enjoy while changing the taste by grilling to your liking
Beef cutlet set meal With 3 side dishes (130g Beef Cutlet) / Starting from 1,930 yen (tax included)
The medium-rare beef cutlet wrapped in a thin, crispy batter can be seared on a stone grill at your table. Enjoy the first slice with just rock salt, then try it with rock salt and wasabi, soy sauce and wasabi, then finally with a special mountain wasabi sauce for a variety of flavors. The small bowls of grated yam and spicy cod roe pair excellently with the barley rice.
Example of branch:
- 【Gyukatsu Motomura Ueno Store】
Address: 2F Tezuka Building, 4-10-17 Ueno, Taito-ku, Tokyo
Access: About 2 minutes walk from "Ueno Station" on each line
- 【Gyukatsu Motomura Shibuya Store】
Address: B1F Ohno Building No.2, 3-18-10 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Access: About 1 minute walk from "Shibuya Station" on each line
- 【Gyukatsu Motomura Ikebukuro Store】
Address: 2F ISP Third Building, 3-13-10 Minami Ikebukuro, Toshima-ku, Tokyo
Access: About 2 minutes walk from "Ikebukuro Station" on each line
- *12 stores in Tokyo (including the Seibu Shinjuku store opening in September), 1 store in Kanagawa, 3 stores in Osaka, 2 stores in Fukuoka, 1 store in Okinawa (including the Naha International Street store opening in September)
- Official website: https://www.gyukatsu-motomura.com/
【Ikebukuro】Gyukatsu Iroha: 1-minute fried Gyukatsu served on a stone slab at the table!
At lunchtime, there is always a queue at "Gyukatsu Iroha", a restaurant that serves only set meals with beef cutlet as the main dish, except during campaign periods. Their commitment to serving delicious beef cutlets lies in the thin, crispy batter that retains the umami and meat juices, and the frying time that results in a medium-rare finish that is close to raw. The beef cutlet is fried for about a minute and then grilled on a stone slab provided at the table, which is the "Gyukatsu Iroha" style!
After the freshly fried beef cutlet is served on your table, be sure to place a slice on the hot stone grill slab at the first place as enjoying the sizzling sound and the savory aroma while savoring the freshly grilled cutlet is the restaurant's style. Even when thoroughly cooked, the cutlet remains tender, and the trapped flavor spreads in your mouth!
Must-try menu at Gyukatsu Iroha: Enjoy the "Beef Cutlet Set Meal" by grilling the freshly fried cutlet on a stone slab
Beef Cutlet Set Meal / Starting from 1,630 yen (tax included)
The "Beef Cutlet Set Meal" features a medium-rare beef cutlet wrapped in a crispy thin batter, served on a stone plate for you to grill to your liking. Appart from enjoing it with three types of flavors: mountain wasabi sauce, soy sauce, and rock salt, along with wasabi, it is also recommended to add a small side dish for an additional charge, if you prefer.
- 【Gyukatsu Iroha】
Address: B1F Tomomitsu Building, 1-9-7 Higashi-Ikebukuro, Toshima-ku, Tokyo
Access: About 1 minute walk from "Ikebukuro Station" on each line
- Official Website: https://www.instagram.com/gyukatsu_iroha/
Enjoy the original taste of beef by eating Gyukatsu when you travel to Tokyo
Gyukatsu, which varies in ingredients, sauce, and frying method depending on the restaurant, is a dish that you can enjoy in various ways. Next time you visit Tokyo, why don't you try ordering Gyukatsu and enjoy an original flavor of beef wrapped in crispy batter?
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- What is beef cutlet? Why is it popular in Japan?
- How to make a basic beef cutlet?
- What is the recommended way to eat beef cutlet?
- 3 recommended specialty restaurants in Tokyo where you can enjoy delicious beef cutlets
- 【Shibuya, Harajuku, Akihabara and others】GYUKATSU Kyoto Katsugyu: A specialty store born in Kyoto where you can choose from 5 parts including rare parts
- 【Ueno, Shibuya, Ikebukuro and others】Gyukatsu Motomura: Fried for 60 seconds! Enjoy with a grilling stone and mountain wasabi sauce!
- 【Ikebukuro】Gyukatsu Iroha: 1-minute fried Gyukatsu served on a stone slab at the table!
- Enjoy the original taste of beef by eating Gyukatsu when you travel to Tokyo