Nothing gets me going like a plate of crunchy Japanese katsu (fried meat covered with bread crumb batter) and some fat, fluffy Japanese rice.
There are plenty of Japanese style katsu and curry places in Taiwan, but you never really know what you’re going to get because they all look the same from the outside. Having tried a fair share of katsu over the years, including in Japan (where it’s just heavenly), I feel like I am in a position to determine what is good katsu and what isn’t.
Recently we tried a popular chain called Pin Tian (品田牧場), which is part of the same group as Yuan Shao, Ju Hokkaido Help Hotpot and Tasty (click on the names for my reviews). All of these are quality restaurants (though I’d rate some higher than others), which naturally raised my expectation of Pin Tian.
In the tradition of those other restaurants, Pin Tian is nicely fitted, clean and dimly lit, with overly-polite, well-trained waiters and menu sets that offer several courses, guaranteed to make you feel absolutely stuffed by the time you finish your dessert.
Pin Tian has two types of sets. The discount ‘Koofuku’ set is NT$239 (+10% service charge) and is only available for lunch on weekdays. It includes an appetiser and the choice of a main (tonkatsu or chicken katsu or curries, as well as some more ‘creative choices’, such as takoyaki (octopus) katsu, katsu rolls with egg, bacon, tomato, etc, ginger pork, tempura prawn and salted fish). Each set also comes with unlimited shredded cabbage, unlimited rice, miso soup, chawan mushi (egg custard), pickles and apple vinegar (to ‘cleanse the palette’).
The regular ‘Genki’ set is NT$299 (+10% service charge), and is essentially the same except you also get a dessert (sesame ice cream, mousse and milk pudding) and a beverage (tea, coffee or special Japanese drinks).
Perhaps to imitate Japanese katsu restaurants, Pin Tian also starts off by giving everyone a bowl with some sesame seeds which you crush yourself and mix with the special katsu sauce (Japanese Worcestershire) on your table. I don’t know why but I always like it. Maybe it’s because the sesame smells so good.
The other thing I love about Pin Tian is their sesame sauce which goes with the cabbage, also readily available on your table. It’s freaking awesome and I had about four refills of the cabbage because of it.
On this day, we ordered three sets (one Genki set). The appetiser was two small rice paper rolls with a vinegary dressing. Light, tangy and fresh.
The mains were the pork waist fillet tonkatsu (less fatty), the tonkatsu curry and the crispy chicken curry. Check them out below.
For the dessert from the Genki set, we got the black sesame ice cream, and for the beverage, a Japanese genmai black bean green tea.
Now for the evaluation. Pin Tian is pretty good from an overall perspective. For a very reasonable price you get an appetising appetiser, a katsu main course, unlimited cabbage (with that superb sesame dressing) and rice, soup and other stuff. The katsu itself is decent — better than the average non-Japanese katsu joints but not in the same league as a ‘true’ tonkatsu restaurant. The curry is better than expected and goes very well with the fried meats. For the average meal seeker it is more than good enough, though if you are specifically after top notch katsu there should be better options available.
8 out of 10!
Pian Tian: Japanese Style Katsu and Curry (品田牧場)
Website: http://www.pintian.com.tw/index.htm (Chinese)
Opening Hours: 11:30-14:30, 17:30-22:00, 7 days a week
Price: NT$239-299 (+10% service charge)
Stores: http://www.pintian.com.tw/about.htm (Chinese)
Nanjing East Store
Level 2, 146 Section 2 Nanjing East Road, Taipei (02 – 2507-7279)
Nearest MRT: Songjian Nanjing (Exit 4)
Mingshen East Store
Level B1, 45 Section 4 Mingshen East Road, Taipei (02-2718-6566)
Nearest MRT: Songshan Airport (Exit 3)
Level 2, 7 Section 1 Zhongshan Road, Banqiao (02-2964-2661)
Nearest MRT: Fuzhong (Exit 1)