Tonkatsu places are a dime a dozen in Taiwan, and most of them are decent without being exceptional. For me, having lived in Japan and sampled some of the best katsu the world has to offer, it’s particularly difficult to find one that can satisfy my desires. And so I just had to visit Anzu (杏子日式豬排餐廳), a Kyushu-originated joint, reportedly one of the best tonkatsu restaurants in Taiwan.
On a busy evening we went to the new store in the Hankyu Department Store near the Taipei City Hall MRT station. There was already a line at 5pm, and we didn’t manage to secure a seat until 5:30. Even though it was too early to be hungry I was excited because long lines usually equated to good food.
Like most other tonkatsu places these days, Anzu offers unlimited cabbage, rice and miso soup to go with your katsu order. Of course, there is also the grind-it-yourself sesame seeds which you add the thick tonkatsu sauce to. Each table offers two types of salad dressings — creamy lavender and tangy yuzu. Both were pretty good. Something different was the pickled radish strips, which was salty but went well with the rice.
As usual, we ordered a tonkatsu (pork) and a chicken katsu. There is quite a variety of pork, and the higher the price the better the quality. Ordinarily, I would have just gone with the regular priced version, but what I have come to realise over the years is that the better quality pork really does taste better, so I went with a more expensive one.
I am glad to report that Anzu delivers. The bread crumbs on the outside are crispy but not so thick that it allows them to skimp on the meat. In fact, the meat is fat and juicy — succulent, is what it is. That said, as tender and flavoursome as it is, it did not come across as particularly oily, even though it is deep fried. That’s the sign of a good tonkatsu. Squeeze a bit of lemon on top. Scoop a dash of tangy mustard seeds or hot mustard sauce. Then dip into the sweet tonkatsu sauce with fragrant crushed sesame seeds. It doesn’t get much better than that.
The chicken katsu was also sublime. Usually the chicken takes a back seat to the pork, but not at Anzu. The miso soup was also a surprise hit. No wonder the place is so popular. Sure the tonkatsu is great, but the rest of the sides are pretty good too. It’s the total package.
I’ll be going back again.
9 out of 10!
Anzu Japanese Tonkatsu (杏子日式豬排餐廳)
Technology Building Store – No. 2, Lane 271, Section 2, Fuxing South Road, Daan District; Phone: (02) 2701-0298; Nearest MRT: Technology Building Station (Brown Line)
Songjian Nanjing Store – No. 63, Section 2, Nanjing East Road, Jhongshan District; Phone: (02) 2537-3767; Nearest MRT: Songjian Nanjing Station (Brown Line)
Hankyu Store — Level B1, Hankyu Department Store, No. 8, Section 5, Zhongxiao East Road; No phone reservations; Nearest MRT: Taipei City Hall (Blue Line)
Fuxing SOGO Store — Level 10, Fuxing SOGO Department Store, corner of Zhongxiao East Road and Dunhua South Road; No phone reservations; Nearest MRT: Zhongxiao Fuxing (Blue Line)