The Great Noodle Tour: The World’s Best Tonkatsu at Butagumi

When we wanted to get tonkatsu, I imagined that we would enjoy it at Maisen.

I was so, so wrong.

We ended up at Butagumi…and I have been praising the culinary G-ds ever since.

20150423_050723 Butagumi is a small, quirky restaurant located in a residential neighborhood near the now-chic Roppongi Hills complex. It’s actually an old house that was converted to a restaurant. And it’s pork-a-licious.  20150423_050730 That entire menu is chock full of pork that you can get tonkatsu style – lightly fried in panko breadcrumbs. All that they serve is pork. Many, many breeds of pork. Imported Iberico and Mangalitsa pork. Specially fatty Japanese pork. Especially lean pork. Sirloin which is fattier and tenderloin which tastes more purely porky. It’s pork heaven.  20150423_052023 Pickles

Not my favorite start to the meal the way that I thought it would be. A little bitter and a little too funky, even for me.  20150423_053435 Minced pork tonkatsu
20150423_053606 Now THIS is an appetizer. The chicken nugget of my dreams. An impossibly, thick, shaggy crust concealing the juiciest, porkiest patty I have ever enjoyed. It’s so sweet and juicy that I could eat this with honey and be totally satisfied. However, if you dip it in some of the accompanying thick and sweet tonkatsu sauce, you won’t be disappointed. Amazingly delicious.  20150423_060618 Cabbage

The classic tonkatsu accompaniment. Douse it with the addictive tangy vinegar at your table to cleanse your palate and allow for maximum pork consumption. This, plus rice and miso soup, are all unlimited during the course of your meal. I defy you to eat more than one bowl.  20150423_060623 Pickles for tonkatsu

Unlike their predecessors, very good. 
20150423_060742 The pork…the pork! We got several different cuts and each was a gem.  20150423_060816 The golden boar pork was my favorite since it is so fatty and rich. The fat melts like the fat at the bottom of a pan of meatloaf. Just golden, buttery, rich. Not at all bouncy or weird tasting.  20150423_061006 The tenderloin is no slouch either and was cooked until it as just barely rosy so it was still juicy. 

The biggest shock here is the taste of the meat. It isn’t at all robust or barnyard-y. It’s gentle and elegant – sweet, even. It would be perfectly at home at an elegant dinner party. How can this be peasant food?! 20150423_061313 The miso soup is just he best I’ve ever had. Chock full of flavor and these tiny, adorable, sweet clams.

Butagumi is a MUST VISIT in Tokyo. It’s up there for my favorite meal of the trip. The service is delighful, the surroundings are unique, and the food is fabulous.

You could really make a pig of yourself here.