Tonkatsu Times Two

May 6, 2014 | By Sarah Pacheco

Ever since Kimukatsu opened its Waikiki location in March 2012, the debate between whose tonkatsu— the newcomer’s, or perennial favorite, Ginza Bairin—reigns supreme has been constant food for fodder to fans of the Japanese deep-fried pork cutlet.

We’d like to proclaim a tie, as each offers a different spin on this classic dish.


At Kimukatsu, the secret to its tonkatsu is its specialty 25-layer, thinly sliced prime-choice pork that is breaded in a rich crust and slow-cooked at a low temperature before being allowed to rest vertically two minutes, sealing in the natural juices. Kimukatsu also offers a modern twist on tradition with different stuffings, like cheese and black pepper, as well as sauces that include a demi-glace and tartar-like nanban.

Ginza Bairin, which was the first tonkatsu restaurant in Ginza, Japan, when it opened in 1927, is all about tradition. Here, the tonkatsu is made using different thicknesses and grades of pork, including the premium kurobuta, which is coated in a traditional bread crumb seasoning and masterfully deep-fried in premium salad oil to retain and highlight its award-winning texture, aroma and flavor. The Waikiki location is the only franchise of the specialty Tokyo restaurant in the U.S., and the only place in Hawai‘i where you’ll find its original tonkatsu sandwich and signature “Tonkatsu Sauce.”

In addition to tonkatsu, both Kimukatsu and Ginza Bairin serve other dishes and sides, including rice, miso soup and pickles.

Try both to settle the score for yourself; it’s safe to declare that in this battle of the tonkatsu, you’ll be the clear winner.

Aqua Waikiki Joy Hotel
320 Lewers St. [B:7 Waikiki Map] (808) 922-1129

Tonkatsu Ginza Bairin
225 Beachwalk [C:6 Waikiki Map] (808) 926-8082