This Japanese restaurant by Chef Naotaka Ohashi offers good tonkatsu and fresh seafood sets at reasonable prices
Tonkatsu, or deep-fried pork cutlet, is the ultimate comfort food in Japanese cuisine. This dish always satisfies the appetite, whether it’s served in a simple bento or in a traditional eatery in Japan. But in order for this everyday food to be considered fine dining, it requires the combination of using quality ingredients, exceptional cooking techniques and that extra magic that elevates a dining experience. So when Tsukanto, founded by Michelin-starred celebrity chef Naotaka Ohashi, opened recently at ELEMENTS, a high-end mall in Kowloon, we had high expectations.
In addition to tonkatsu made from premium pork imported from Japan, deep-fried seafood and Japanese curry are also among the offerings at Tsukanto. We took the waiter’s advice and ordered the seafood set (HK$298) with prawn, Hokkaido oyster, scallop and, of course, tonkatsu.
We started the set with the seafood, deciding to savour the golden-fried pork cutlet later on. The chef’s skills clearly shine through, evident in the application of the panko breading and the perfectly deep-fried seafood. The prawn, oyster and scallop are of jumbo size and very fresh. The crisp exterior is not oily, and every bite oozes the rich, juicy flavours of the ocean.
The pork cutlet that comes with the seafood set is also breaded and fried beautifully, with no instances of the batter separating from the meat (which sometimes happens under unskilled hands). The meat is tender from sous-vide cooking, but we couldn’t help but notice that the cutlet looked more greyish than pink, and the meat was not as juicy as we had hoped. Perhaps in this set, the seafood has outshone the pork, which is slightly disappointing.
We also tried the premium Kumamoto Rindo pork loin set (HK$328). This set is certainly a step above of the seafood set. The flavour of the pork is rich, and the thicker cut is definitely more satisfying and pleasing. But once again, the expected pinkish, juicy tenderness of the cutlet is lacking.
While the tonkatsu we tried in both sets was slightly underwhelming, we liked the signature house-made shochu lemon sour (HK$78). It’s made of the zest of at least 10 lemons and sweetened using high-end wasanbon (a fine-grained Japanese sugar). This tangy-sweet refresher is a welcome balance to the hearty and meaty dishes served up at the restaurant.
Given how well the seafood pieces were prepared, the lacklustre experience with the pork cutlet has left us feeling mixed about our dining experience at Tsukanto. With the restaurant only open since mid-June, we want to give them the benefit of the doubt; perhaps they’re in the process of managing start-up issues whilst being overwhelmed by strong demand (we visited on a weekday evening, and the dining room was full). It’s evident that Tsukanto has a good following, and we Hong Kongers do love tonkatsu. Given that a meal set starts at HK$198 at this high-end mall location, with all the convenience of MTR access and modern comfort, the overall experience is reasonable. A later visit is warranted after the restaurant has smoothed out some opening operational challenges.
Where: Shop 1002, 1/F, ELEMENTS, 1 Austin Road West, TST
This write-up is based on a complimentary media tasting provided in exchange for an honest review and no monetary compensation. The opinions expressed here represent the author’s.