The Curious Tale of Tonkatsu

Tonkatsu is a familiar friend for many diners at I Love Sushi’s Seattle restaurant. It’s a classic favorite for many first-timers to Japanese food, boasting a taste that appeals quite readily to the tastes of the average American. And indeed, this is no mistake, for the origins of the dish actually lie in one of Japan’s earliest attempts at Japanese-Western fusion cuisine.

Tonkatsu is thought to have been first served at some time around 1890 in Ginza, Japan. Though the details are difficult to be certain about, it is thought that there was a restaurant in the region that specialized in preparing food inspired by European cooking techniques. Though the idea of “katsu” was by no means new to Japan, the deep-fried “tonkatsu” was a fresh innovation. The original tonkatsu dishes were actually served with a fork instead of a pair of chopsticks, which was almost entirely unheard of in Japan at the time!