Sure, there’s a lot of places that serve tonkatsu, but it takes a special kind of genius to truly innovate and outshine against everybody else. I mean, where can you find tonkatsu made with 25 thin layers of pork with added fillings (seven different flavors) separating one flavor of deep, golden-fried pork cutlet from another? At Kimukatsu, no less.
Can you see the layers? 😛
Kimukatsu (キムカツ) originated from Japan and it now has multiple branches spread out in Tokyo, Osaka, Yokohama, Sendai, etc. Outside Japan, Kimukatsu has branches in Los Angeles, Hawaii, Korea and now in the Philippines.
Kimukatsu opened at Shangri-la Plaza last December 20, 2013. It is located at the fifth level of the new wing of the mall just beside Ikkoryu Fukkuoka Ramen. Invited by Marketing Manager Rizza Meriado, I had the pleasure of meeting Kenji Komuro, Public Relations Director, for the second time and dining here together with other bloggers last Saturday. 🙂
Review of Kimukatsu Japanese Restaurant (Shangri-la Plaza, Mandaluyong)
The place is quite spacious as it can fit around 60 customers. Designed with black chairs, black tables, black walls, black floor tiles and black lanterns hanging down from the ceiling, interior is very modern and minimalist. The booths on the sides are cushy and the overall feel is cozy. Notice that there’s like an embossed illustration of cherry blossoms on one side of the wall. The picture is very captivating and this piece of art was one of the first things that caught my attention upon entrance to the dining area.
Hot tea was served immediately after I was seated, to give comfort. The waiter handed me their menu with easy grace. Attentive and polite, staffs refill our glasses with water and tea cups with tea when they’re empty or nearly empty. I found this definitely a plus. Overall, their superb service made a big difference to our dining experience.
First on the taste test lineup was the Negi Shio Tofu (PHp 130 for three pieces). I was bit surprised that it was not served hot but not “bone-chilling cold” neither. The pieces were soft and silky and it was almost hard to grab with chopsticks. Flavor-wise, the tofu was subtle, a good appetizer for any meal.
Next was the Ebi Mayo (PHp 210), a simple but also fantastic appetizer. I thought the shrimps tasted like sweet gambas dipped on light mayonnaise and spruced with lime on the side. The presentation was drool-worthy so it can easily be a conversation piece for your dinner.
The star of the night, 7 Flavor Kimukatsu Set (PHp 2400), consisted of the following flavors:
1. Plain (PHp 380) – The katsu was fried slowly in low temperature and then set vertically to steam, allowing the heat to spread evenly inside. Covered in homemade Panko crumbs, this pork cutlet was light and juicy. The excess oil and fat drip down to the wire rack placed underneath, so each piece of katsu wasn’t greasy at all. The plain tonkatsu would be best ordered by purists who do not prefer the true flavor of the pork to be somewhat lost because of the flavored fillings.
2. Yuzu Kosho (PHp 430) – This exotic flavor is a traditional Japanese taste of yuzu fruits and green chili pepper. It was absolutely spicy! If you’re not eating it with rice, I bid you good luck. 😛 To tone the spice down, feel free to remove some of the green pepper surrounded by the layers of pork.
3. Negi Shio (PHp 380) – This is a refreshing flavor of marinated spring onions in every bite. It was tasty but not amazing compared to others.
4. Ume Shiso (PHp 430) – “Ume” is sour plum. This flavor is popular among females in Japan. The plum was sweet and tad weird to be combined with the tonkatsu.
5. Garlic (PHp 380 if ordered individually) – This comprised of fresh minced garlic, which I thought somewhat hid the true flavor of the pork.
6. Black Pepper (PHp 390) – The crispy exterior was well seasoned with a strong side of high-grade pepper.
7. Cheese (PHp 390) – With savory cheddar cheese oozing from the middle, this flavor hails as the best-selling flavor in Japan. This was also the best for me.
Kimukatsu offers three dips: the thick Kimukatsu sauce which is sweet, the ponzu sauce (vinegar) that has a nice citrus zing, and the Himalayan salt that gives a complementary whirl to the taste of the katsu. Customers can also add on the black sesame seeds to enhance the flavor of each condiment.
As part of the Kimukatsu set, the following items (unlimited, refills upon request) had also been good accompaniments to the katsu:
Fresh and crisp Shredded Cabbage makes a good salad by just adding vinaigrette
Crunchy Radish pickled in a spicy mixture and Assorted Veggies
Miso Soup in two variations (red/akai – stronger miso taste and white/shiro – milder miso taste and less salty)
The rice was not the ordinary Japanese rice served elsewhere but a special type also imported from Japan. Kimukatsu uses a slow-cooking process for the rice, bringing out a great glutenous texture. It’s cooked only at the moment customers order, so you can be rest assured that it tastes new and fresh (note: 15 minutes waiting time). The resulting individual grains were smooth and round.
With all the unli side dishes and rice, we were completely full (almost over-stuffed). But hey, how can we say no to desserts? 😉
We had the Sesame Seed Ice Cream (PHp 110) and Kurogoma Pudding (PHp 110), two sesame seed-inspired desserts that are extremely delicious. The fragrance of black sesame seeds was evident and the taste was divine and wholly addictive. These are the perfect candidates to end a meal and clean your palate.
Finally, we enjoyed the Japanese Panna Cotta (PHp 110) and the Macha Parfait (PHp 230). Different from the regular panna cotta texture, the Japanese Panna Cotta was not firm but soft and very creamy. The green tea parfait served with red bean paste, chestnut and shiratama, on the other hand, was as loaded as macha ice cream gets. The green tea flavor was grassy and robust but with sweet vanilla undertones. It was not inedibly bitter as the infused ingredients hinted on sweetness as well.
Price for Value: ★★★★★
Like many quality Japanese restaurants, Kimukatsu isn’t cheap. But what would you expect from a restaurant seated at Shangri-la Plaza? This place spells everything high class, and the prices are already quite reasonable considering the obvious: a massive amount of time and complexity goes into making the 25-layer pork katsu as delicious as possible.
I asked Kenji-san how much an order of katsu set costs in Japan. He said it’s more than PHp 900 and people there find the price average. I researched for prices offered at branches in the US and they’re a little over PHp 600+ when converted to Philippine pesos. Here, you can get the plain katsu with consistent and the same taste as the original for only PHp 380—and remember, that comes with all-you-can-eat Japanese rice, miso soup, cabbages and condiments. I have nothing to complain.
Confession: 我唔食豬. I don’t really eat pork and my body has allergic reactions to meat. Not long after dinner, I felt the itchiness on my skin, but it was bearable. I have my medications anyway. To encounter Kimukatsu’s signature katsu, an exception can surely be made.
Come try Kimukatsu’s flavored katsu for yourself and you probably won’t be satisfied with pork cutlets from other outlets again. Yup, be warned, this is a katsu crack. (They also have chicken katsu, scallop fry, ebi fry, seafood fry and vegetable fry sets.) If you’re not a fan of katsu, I also recommend you give Kimukatsu a try. It might just change your mind. Tip: Theirs are way better than Yabu’s. 😀