Tonkatsu (豚カツ, とんかつ or トンカツ, pronounced [toŋkatsɯ]; "pork cutlet") is a Japanese dish that consists of a breaded, deep-fried pork cutlet. It involves coating slices of pork with panko (bread crumbs), and then frying them in oil. The two main types are fillet and loin. Tonkatsu is also the basis of other dishes such as katsukarē and katsudon.

Place of originJapan
Region or stateEast Asia
Main ingredientsCutlet (pork fillet or loin), panko, cooking oil
Hot freshly served tonkatsu


The word tonkatsu is a combination of the Sino-Japanese word ton () meaning "pig", and katsu (カツ), which is a shortened form of katsuretsu (カツレツ), an old transliteration of the English word cutlet.[1]


Tonkatsu originated in Japan during the Meiji Era in the late 19th century, a dish derived from European-style breaded and fried meat cutlets. European katsuretsu (loanword/gairaigo for cutlet) was usually made with beef; the pork version was created in 1899 at a restaurant serving European-style foods, named Rengatei in Tokyo, Japan.[2][3][4] It's a type of yōshoku — Japanese versions of European cuisine invented in the late 19th and early 20th centuries — and was called katsuretsu or simply katsu.[5]

Preparation and serving

Katsu-sando (ja:カツサンド), a tonkatsu sandwich, served as an ekiben

Either a pork fillet (ヒレ, hire) or pork loin (ロース, rōsu) cut may be used; the meat is usually salted, peppered, dredged lightly in flour, dipped into beaten egg and then coated with panko (bread crumbs) before being deep fried.[6]

Tonkatsu is then sliced into bits and served, commonly with shredded cabbage.[6][7] It is most commonly eaten with a type of thick brown sauce called tonkatsu sauce[6] or simply sōsu (sauce), karashi (mustard), and perhaps a slice of lemon. It is usually served with rice, miso soup and tsukemono and eaten with chopsticks. It may also be served with ponzu and grated daikon instead of tonkatsu sauce.[8]


Tonkatsu restaurant "jp:かつや" in Tokyo, Japan

In Nagoya and surrounding areas, miso katsu, tonkatsu eaten with a hatchō miso-based sauce, is a speciality.[9]

Variations on tonkatsu may be made by sandwiching an ingredient such as cheese or shiso leaf between the meat, and then breading and frying. For the calorie conscious, konnyaku is sometimes sandwiched in the meat.

Several variations of tonkatsu use alternatives to pork:

  • Chicken katsu (チキンカツ) or Tori katsu (鶏カツ), which uses chicken instead, often appears in Hawaiian plate lunches.
  • Menchi-katsu (メンチカツ) or minchi katsu (ミンチカツ mince katsu), is a minced meat patty, breaded and deep fried.
  • Hamu katsu (ハムカツ ham katsu), a similar dish made from ham, is usually considered a budget alternative to tonkatsu.
  • Gyū katsu (牛カツ beef katsu), also known as bīfu katsu, is popular in the Kansai region around Osaka and Kobe.

In general, breaded and deep-fried foods are called furai (frys). Furai of mammal or bird meats, such as pork, beef, or chicken are called katsu (cutlet). Furai of ingredients other than that are just called furai,[10] such as aji-furai (fried horse mackerel) and ebi-furai (fried prawn).

Tonkatsu and other furais are never called tempura. Tempura is not breaded,[11] and is not seen as a kind of furai.

Tonkatsu is also popular as a sandwich filling (katsu sando), or served on Japanese curry to become katsukarē. Tonkatsu is sometimes simmered with egg and broth, then served on a big bowl of rice as katsudon. There is also katsu rice, which is pork cutlet on rice topped with demi-glace sauce.

See also


  1. "Katsuretsu" カツレツ [cutlet]. Nihon Kokugo Daijiten Concise edition, web version (精選版 日本国語大辞典) (in Japanese). Shogakukan. Retrieved 2021-08-16 via cutlet [... shortened form is] "katsu".
  2. 岡田, 哲. とんかつの誕生―明治洋食事始め. p. 166.
  3. 小菅, 桂子. にっぽん洋食物語大全. p. 122.
  4. Kaneko, Amy (2007). Let's Cook Japanese Food!: Everyday Recipes for Home Cooking. Chronicle Books. p. 101. ISBN 978-0-8118-4832-9.
  5. Jennifer Ellen Robertson, ed. (2005). A companion to the anthropology of Japan. Wiley-Blackwell. p. 421. ISBN 0-631-22955-8.
  6. Tsuji, Shizuo; Fisher, M. F. K. (2007). Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art. Kodansha International. p. 240. ISBN 978-4-7700-3049-8.
  7. Hosking, Richard (1995). A Dictionary of Japanese Food - Ingredients and Culture. Tuttle. p. 159. ISBN 0-8048-2042-2.
  8. Ono, Tadashi; Salat, Harris (2013). Japanese Soul Cooking: Ramen, Tonkatsu, Tempura, and More from the Streets and Kitchens of Tokyo and Beyond. Potter/Ten Speed/Harmony/Rodale. ISBN 9781607743538. Retrieved 21 July 2020.
  9. "名古屋国際センター | Nagoya International Center".
  10. "Furai (ryouri)" フライ (料理) [Fry (cooking)]. Encyclopedia Nipponica web version (in Japanese) (constantly updated ed.). Shogakukan. Retrieved 2021-08-16 via (rough translation): In Western cuisine, "frying" means to deep-fry or sautee in oils or fats. [...] In Japan, "furai" refers to foods that are dipped in wheat flour, beaten egg, bread crumbs and then deep-fried, [...]. If the ingredient is meat, it is called "chikin katsuretsu", "pōku katsuretsu (tonkatsu)" etc., respectively.[...]
  11. No panko appears in definition of tempura: "Tempura" 天麩羅 テンプラ. Digital Daijisen (デジタル大辞泉) (in Japanese) (constantly updated ed.). Shogakukan. Retrieved 2021-08-16 via (rough translation): 1.[...ingredients] dipped in batter made of wheat flour, egg and water, then fried in vegetable oil. Vegetable tempuras are sometimes distinguished and called "shōjin-age". [...]
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