Tonki: For 80 years, serving the best tonkatsu in Tokyo, Japan

Tonki Tonkatsu in Tokyo, Japan
Tonki Tonkatsu in Tokyo, Japan

Whenever a friend visits Tokyo for the first time, I send them to Tonki, which serves one of the best tonkatsu in Tokyo. This popular dish consists of a pork cutlet breaded in Japanese-style panko breadcrumbs and deep-fried until crispy.

It may be old-fashioned, but Tonki is an institution in Tokyo. Since 1939, Tonki has served tonkatsu to many die-hard fans of the traditional Japanese dish, including locals and tourists like myself.

Many will debate whether Tonki or Maisen is better. I tend to side with Tonki, but I’m not the only one. Out of all the tonkatsu restaurants in Tokyo, numbering in the thousands, nowhere seems to do it as well as Tonki.

If you are looking for more information about Tokyo and Japan, I highly recommend you pick up a guidebook such as Lonely Planet Best of Tokyo 2020

Bright Interior of Tonki

Warm and bright interior of Tonki, Tokyo, Japan
Warm and bright interior of Tonki

From the outside, the restaurant looked dull. I wondered if I was at the right place on my first visit.

Once I passed inside through the sliding wooden doors, everything changed. The spacious room was without any decorations and extremely bright. The aroma of fried pork and oil hit me right away.

There were no tables on the first floor—just a single counter surrounding a vast and busy kitchen. Every seat at the counter was taken by what appeared to be primarily locals quietly enjoying their meal.

Given how many people were inside, I was surprised by how quiet the restaurant was. The only sounds I really heard were the shouts of workers greeting customers and the sound of oil bubbling in large circular vats.

People seemed to eat and move on, ensuring that the wait was never too long.

Before you eat, you will have to wait
Before you eat, you will have to wait

Behind the counter was a line of seated customers waiting patiently for their turn to sit at the counter. My wait was about 20 minutes, but it was worth the wait.

Open Kitchen

Skilled hands handling and cuting each piece of pork
Skilled hands handling and cuting each piece of pork

In the kitchen, the chefs were decked out in white from head to toe. They seemed to move around the kitchen as if it were choreographed.

Everyone had one job, and one job only, whether it was taking orders, frying the pork, or slicing cabbage. The wait seemed non-existent with the show going on in front of me.

The one thing that stood out on my visit, besides the food, was an older gentleman whose job was to cut and plate each piece of pork. His job was vital to the restaurant’s success.

Using his sizeable razor-edged knife, the man, with his sharply curved back, bent over and meticulously cut each piece of pork placed in front of him. With his eyes focused on the pork, it was like nothing else in the world mattered.

The chef’s one job and the most important and senior role was slicing the pork. I wondered how many pieces of pork he had cut in his life. I assume the years of bending over and cutting have taken a toll on his back. He had my respect.

For the best experience and show, sit downstairs at the counter
For the best experience and show, sit downstairs at the counter

Tonki Menu

The menu of Tonki, Tokyo, Japan
The menu of Tonki

I ordered the Rohsu-Katsu Teishoku (1,900 yen or about $12.55) with a 160g (5.6oz) pork loin cutlet. On the side were pork miso soup, white rice, pickled vegetables, thinly sliced cabbage, a tomato wedge, and spicy yellow mustard.

After sitting at the bar, it took a good 10 or 15 minutes to receive my pork. But the wait was worth it, especially with a cold beer and the kitchen view. When it arrived, seeing the assortment of colorful food in front of me was beautiful, like a culinary art.

After taking my first bite, I knew why Tonki was so popular. The pork had a thick, crunchy breading and was almost dark brown from being cooked in vats of hot oil. The tonkatsu served here was fried extra crispy. If you prefer a lighter, fluffy crust, you will be sadly disappointed.

Under the coating was a mixture of meat and fatty parts. After being fried longer than usual, the meat was less juicy and tender than expected.

A layer of translucent fat complimented the meat. This fat was intense in flavor and melted in my mouth. The rich flavors of the fat reminded me of bacon. If fatty pieces of pork aren’t your thing, go for the leaner loin.

I can’t forget about the spicy yellow mustard. I love this stuff—it has a good kick of heat with the burn of wasabi. If this is too spicy for you, minimize the heat by mixing the mustard with katsu sauce, which is found in bottles on the counter.

The katsu sauce was sweet and salty, almost like a BBQ sauce. Its sweetness and saltiness paired well with spicy yellow mustard.

Miso Soup and Sides

Miso soup packed with pieces of pork
Miso soup packed with pieces of pork

Generous pork pieces were floating in the slightly salty yet light miso soup broth. Those who love pork will be pleased that the soup had more pork than tofu. And you guessed it, the pork was fatty, juicy, and packed with flavor that permeated into the broth.

The rice, pickled vegetables, and sliced cabbage initially seemed somewhat ordinary, but it paired perfectly with the tonkatsu.

I couldn’t stop eating the cabbage. I was like a child on Christmas morning when the worker came around with the large bowl of sliced cabbage.


From the moment I walked in and was presented with a menu, I felt welcomed, even though I was one of the only tourists.

Though my interaction with the busy workers was limited, everything ran smoothly like a well-oiled machine. Every worker had a specific job, which ensured quick, efficient service.

I loved how attentive the workers were to me. They repeatedly asked if I needed a refill on rice, miso soup, or cabbage—and I loved that cabbage.


I feel bad reviewing Tonki as it is off the beaten path for most tourists. I want to keep it for myself.

Of all the restaurants in Tokyo I have visited in Japan, nothing compares to Tonki. I always recommend Tonki to my friends who are traveling to Tokyo.

The food, the kitchen, the workers, and the counter seating make me want to stop at Tonki each time I return to Japan.

Does it have one of the best tonkatsu in Tokyo? I think so. It may not be the most refined, Top Chef-quality tonkatsu dish I have ever had, but there was something special about a homemade-style fried pork cutlet.

When I left Tonki, my clothes smelled of pork the next day, and I loved it.


  • One of the best tonkatsu in Tokyo
  • Delicious, crispy, tender, fatty, flavorful pork cutlet
  • The show going on in the kitchen was enjoyable to watch, especially while waiting
  • Packed with locals
  • Accepted credit cards


  • Always a wait for dinner
  • Limited items on the menu


Wednesday - Monday: 4:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Tuesday: Closed


1 Chome-1-2 Shimomeguro, Meguro, Tokyo 153-0064, Japan
GPS Coordinates: 35.633605,139.714312


Last Updated on April 8, 2024

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