Katsudonya Zuichou is small family-run restaurant in Shibuya that specializes in one item, katsudon. This dish made with rice and egg topped with a deep-fried pork cutlet is popular in Japan.
While Katsudonya Zuichou is a stones throw away from Shibuya Crossing, its location makes it feel worlds apart. The restaurant was tucked down a narrow passageway inside a small red brick building on a quiet street.
Katsudonya Zuichou Menu
Like many restaurant in Japan, there was only one item on the menu to choose from. That one item was katsudon.
You might be asking yourself, why only one item? Many restaurants in Japan specialize in only one item but execute it to perfection. This is what makes Japanese cuisine so unique.
The only decision I had to make was if I wanted the small or large portion. As both options were the same price, and I was hungry, I politely gestured at the cook for a large bowl.
Interior of Katsudonya Zuichou
I was surprised when I walked through the door into Katsudonya Zuichou. It was nothing like I would have expected for a restaurant in Shibuya.
The interior was small and cramped. The epitome of a hole in the wall. There was a small counter running from one side of the room to the other with only enough room for about eight seats.
Though bright, the decor was modest and simple with an inviting, cozy feeling. I could tell the focus was on the food.
It was quiet with only the faint sound of a radio lightly playing in the background and the sound of the fryer bubbling away.
Best of all, I didn’t notice any tourists, only locals. This was a good sign. These are the types of places I love seeking out in Tokyo.
Behind the counter was the small, cramped kitchen. I couldn’t believe how tiny the kitchen was. It was amazing to watch the chefs prepare each component of the dish from breading and frying the pork cutlet to steaming the rice. Every seat in the house had a great view of the kitchen.
Jasmine Tea and Miso Soup
Complimentary was a cup of jasmine tea. The tea, served cold with an ice cube in it, was refreshing, even on a cool day in Tokyo. The flavors were aromatic without being too sweet.
Served along with the jasmine tea was a bowl of miso soup. While the soup was simple, it was beautiful.
The broth was light and impressively clear. The taste of dashi was prominent without being too salty.
Mixed into the soup were tender, soft noodles along with spongy bits of fish cakes.
The miso soup was impressive. Refreshing, crisp, and beautiful.
As mentioned before, katsudon is a dish composed of rice and egg topped with a deep-fried pork cutlet. The name katsudon comes from the combination of tonkatsu (fried pork cutlet) and donburi (rice bowl).
I really love this dish. You can one version or another practically everywhere from Tokyo Station to Narita Airport to convenience stores like Family Mart and 7-Eleven.
At Katsudonya Zuichou, you had two options: the small katsudon or large katsudon (1,000 yen or about $9.11). I went for the large bowl.
By itself, the tonkatsu or fried pork cutlet was a meal of its own. It was so large that it practically overflowed out of the bowl and onto the table below.
The thick crust of the pork was golden brown and beautiful. While the crust might not have been as crispy as other tonkatsu spots in Tokyo, such as Tonki Tonkatsu, it was anything but soggy. Each juicy bite of the pork was just crunchy enough, only losing some of its crispiness after dipped in a salty and sweet sauce.
Directly under the pork cutlet was a thick layer of golden pan-fried eggs. I wish I could cook eggs the same way.
The eggs were perfection. Crispy on the edges yet so soft and gooey in the middle. The eggs seemed to melt into the pork and rice below while soaking up all the flavors of the sauce.
Hidden below the massive fried pork cutlet and egg was a generous amount of simple white rice. Now, I usually get bored eating plain white rice, but this was not the case. The rice was delicious with bits of egg, fried pork, and mixed in. I ate every grain of the rice.
The family running Katsudonya Zuichou were friendly and welcoming to me, even with a language barrier. My food arrived promptly, and even better, I got to watch it be prepared.
If you are looking for a restaurant off the beaten path in Tokyo, then I would recommend Katsudonya Zuichou. Everything was great from the tea, to the miso soup, to the delicious, freshly prepared katsudon. I couldn’t believe this entire meal was only 1,000 yen.
These are the types of places I enjoy stumbling upon in Japan. It’s a meal that I will remember. The type of place I want to keep to myself for fear that next time I visit, there will be a line waiting out front.
- One of the best katsudon in Tokyo
- High quality ingredients for the price
- Friendly staff
- Limited counter seating