Pleased to Meat You: Beef in Japan
June 27, 2016
New Beef Boom
Some restaurateurs say that younger Japanese are eating more beef. In Tokyo, crowds are now queuing for a novel dish called gyukatsu, or beef cutlet. It's a twist on the Western-inspired tonkatsu breaded pork cutlet, which probably derives from the German schnitzel or the French cotolette.
There are several key differences between gyukatsu and tonkatsu. “Gyukatsu is a new sort of cuisine,” says chef Hiroshi Kabaya at his cutlet restaurant in Tokyo's Asakusa district. “It probably came out of western Japan in the past few decades.” Kabaya says he cooks at extremely high temperatures – 210 degrees centigrade. That's far higher than tonkatsu, which is rarely cooked above 180 degrees. He cooks the cutlets for only one minute. This leaves the outside shell of fine panko breadcrumbs hard and crisp, while the beef inside remains almost raw. The gyukatsu is served, like tonkatsu, with a mound of shredded cabbage. There is also akadashi red miso soup, horseradish sauce, rice and other accompaniments.
Some internet food review sites say Kabaya's cutlet is Japan's best. Many customers are tourists from other parts of Asia. “It seems we are especially popular with Korean visitors,” he says. “I know they like beef, because they eat yakiniku.” The Japanese diners include male sarariman, office workers. Being deep-fried, gyukatsu is high in calories, but Kabaya's beef is grass-fed Australian, and not fatty. The dish is a clever hybrid of Western cuisine – just what you'd expect from a Japanese approach to beef.
Text: Mark Robinson
2-17-10 Kaminarimon, Taito-ku