Move over Anzu, there’s a new tonkatsu king in town.
For years, I have been convinced that Anzu (杏子) offers the best katsu in Taiwan, though recently I have heard murmurs that the quality of their food has declined significantly. At the same time, a new juggernaut, Katsusei (勝勢), is said to have emerged in Taipei’s Xinyi district at Breeze’s new Songgao store.
As it turns out, the two restaurants are owned by the same chain, so that explains a lot, but in any case I still had to check it out for myself.
Apparently the place gets packed out early, so we arrived just after the clock struck 11am to ensure a seat. By noon there was a line forming outside.
Judging from the menu, the special is this kurobuta (black pork). They even have a super black one unique to Breeze that uses black crumbs. The other special is the Australian rib eye beef steak katsu.
For those into seafood, they also have this massive tiger prawn katsu and Hiroshima oyster katsu, as depicted below.
Other options in on the menu include regular tonkatsu, chicken rolls, steak and hot pots, as well as special lunch bentos.
We ended up going with a kurobuta katsu (fillet) and a regular hire katsu (loin). With one of the orders we paid a bit extra for a set that includes a beverage and a choice of dessert.
Katsusei‘s sauces and condiments are very similar to Anzu‘s. They have this little tub of pickles which are really nice, plus all-you-can-eat rice and cabbage salad. The two salad dressings are sesame and shiso , and the two katsu sauces are sweet and spicy. As with most katsu restaurants these days you get a bowl of sesame to grind and mix with the sauces.
The katsu was, as expected, sublime. Definitely as good as Anzu was in its heyday, perhaps even better. The regular pork loin katsu below arrived first, and it was extremely soft and tender. When you add that tiny dash of hot mustard on the side to go with the sauce and rice, the mix of flavours and textures is simply unbeatable.
The kurobuta katus came second and it was also very good for a fillet katsu — which typically have more “bite” than the pork loin. No complaints though about the flavour, the juiciness of the pork itself and the crunchiness of the crumb coating. The miso soup and pickled sides were cherries on top of a very satisfying meal.
Lastly, as part of the meal set, an orange juice (not freshly squeezed though) and a surprisingly nice cheese cake.
My only gripe was that the cake came with a fork that was very difficult to use as it would splinter the cake into tiny pieces. Price-wise, it was very reasonable, just a shade under NT$900 for two people.
Overall, one of the best if not the best katsu restaurants I’ve sampled in Taiwan. Katsusei is the real deal, and fans of Anzu should do themselves a favour and try this place out.
Address: Level B2, Breeze Songgao, No. 16 Songgao Road, Xinyi District, Taipei (nearest MRT Taipei City Hall / Taipei 101 World Trade Center)
Phone: (02) 2722-0128
Hours: Sun-Wed 11:00-21:30; Thurs-Sat 11:00-22:00