Don't Order It Wrong, The Difference between Tonkatsu and Tonkotsu

It’s tricky to find two Japanese dish with almost identical names! Especially if you don’t know Japanese language at all. When you go to a Japanese restaurant, you can find these two words: “Tonkatsu” and “Tonkotsu”. You can get a completely different dish, if you’re ordered it wrong!

“Ton” in Japanese means pork, so both dishes are indeed use pork as their main ingredients. However, “Tonkatsu” is pork cutlets, which is breaded and deep-fried traditional Japanese dish. We often find Tonkatsu in two cuts, one is hire-katsu (fillet) and another one is rosu-katsu (pork loin). Regularly, we get rosu-katsu, since it’s tastier but fattier than hire-katsu. In fact, hire-katsu is indeed more expensive because it seems healthier.

“Tonkatsu” usually served with hot steamed rice. A dish called “Katsudon” served Tonkatsu on top of rice along with runny eggs over it, as well as vegetables and condiments.

In case you order “Tonkatsu” ramen, most ramen specialists will correct you to order “Tonkotsu ramen” instead. Yet, there are very few ramen restaurants actually serve this kind of dish. It’s like modified dish for international people. Thus, you will get a bowl of ramen with fried pork chop as the topping.

Most Japanese didn’t enjoy the modern dish founded outside Japan, like “Tonkatsu ramen”. Surely, they prefer “Tonkotsu” ramen. The word “Tonkotsu” itself means pork bone in Japanese. Therefore, it refers to a broth made from pork bones.

“Tonkotsu” is made by boiling pork bone for around 8 to 12 hours with various seasonings.  Eventually, it yields the fatty marrow into a creamy and thick broth. It makes Tonkotsu soup is known for its milky white colour.

The “Tonkotsu” ramen is a signature dish of Kyushu, the south part of Japan. Traditionally, this dish is served with ramen noodles along with sliced pork belly. The noodles used in the dish is often hard in the center.

Originated in Fukuoka on the Kyushu island of Japan, “Tonkotsu” ramen is also referred to as Hakata ramen there. Thus, if we go to an authentic Japanese restaurant which serves Hakata ramen, you can expect yourself eating Tonkotsu ramen.

After knowing all the difference between Tonkatsu and Tonkotsu, let’s enjoy delicious Japanese dishes all over again! This time, no need to be confused about what to order.

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Image is for illustration purpose only. *Appetiser vary daily.

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