I know Tonkatsu from Japan tastes great, yet Tonkatsu Ginza Bairin truly awed me. With a history dating back to 1927, this Tonkatsu restaurant from Tokyo’s premium shopping district is still a revelation! I confess Singaporeans are spoiled for choices sourcing for food on this tiny island, and I probably won’t have visited Tonkatsu Ginza Bairin if I wasn’t attracted by their 90th anniversary 50% off set meal promotion.
How Ginza Bairin here works is, you pay for your order before grabbing a seat, there would be no service charge. I actually intended to order their conventional Pork Loin Katsu Set ($17.00), but even arriving shortly after lunch hour, I was still told ‘sold out’. Really? How amazing! I settled for the Katsu Curry somewhat reluctantly. I’ll explain. First and foremost, I’m not really a fan of curry, much less Japanese curry. I prefer local Indian curry, and to a certain extend, Thai curry too. But I always find Japanese curry lacks the punch, the spiciness. Basically, it’s sweet. Not that it doesn’t taste good, but that’s the Japanese’ taste buds, a flavour they are grown accustomed with, not me. Most significantly, Ginza Bairin’s selling point is their Tonkatsu, imagine submersing the crisply fried Tonkatsu into a sinful coat of curry and loses its crisp…
Well, good thing the chef at Ginza Bairin seems to read my mind 😛
Their curry and rice are served partially segregated so that I can still feel the fragrance of Japanese rice, with the Tonkatsu nicely placed on top of the rice, far from the curry sauce. Like that, I can dip it into the curry sauce only when I wanted, while at the same time savouring the golden crisp of the deep fried flour skin. In other words, I am tasting a varying flavour of it! Now coming to the spotlight, that Tonkatsu, it’s extraordinary juicy, with the pork so sweet I began wondering whether it came from Japan? I couldn’t resist double checking my receipt to see if I ordered Black Pig Katsu Curry by mistake. For those who are still not yet aware, Japan probably serves the best pork in the world, just like their renowned Wagyu. In Iberico ham, Spain probably has its own bragging right, but that is cured ham after all, it’s a different league altogether. The best pork in Japan comes from Kagoshima, notably their black pork (Kurobuta), which even the locals there struggled to find it in Tokyo, or otherwise at a much premium price.
I got so much obsession that I brought the old folks back over the weekend. However, this time round, the queue was some 15 meters long! Looking at the rate it was snaking, I anticipated a wait of no less than an hour. Forget it, back another day.
I revisited Ginza Bairin in mid April 2017.
This time, for Ginza Bairin’s 1-for-1 birthday treat where my friend and I ordered their Iberian Pork Katsu Curry ($21.50) and Black Pig Katsu Curry ($20.00) respectively.
Identical to my previous order of Katsu Curry? Well, I couldn’t tell the difference in taste too. Granted, I might have long forgotten the taste of their Katsu Curry, somehow, I feel my previous order tasted better though. But there’s really lots of factors contributing to the differential, such as a different cook, how long has the pork de-frozen etc.
All pictures above looking similar huh? We ordered different meal just so we could taste the difference between Kurobuta (Black Pig) and Iberian Pork. But truth be told, we could hardly tell any. Japan is famous for Kurobuta, but not Iberian pork actually. Typical Iberian pork (Jamón ibérico) are seasoned like bacon, a generic way the Iberian peninsula natives pride themselves for over thousand years, and genuine Iberian ham ain’t probably gonna come this cheap.
Bottom line, unless your taste bud can really taste the difference, or else you will find their normal Katsu Curry good enough.
Tonkatsu Ginza Bairin （銀座梅林）
2 Orchard Turn
ION Orchard #B4-39/40/41/42
Tel: +65 65098101
Daily – 11:00hr ~ 22:00hr