Katsu-don (カツ丼) is a very popular and common donburi that is found throughout Japan.
It consists mainly of a deep fried pork cutlet served over a bowl of rice. Typically, egg is also added, though there are variations that do not include egg.
“Katsu” (かつ) means cutlet in Japanese. “Don” is short for donburi (丼), which means rice bowl in Japanese. The full name of the dish is actually katsu donburi
Read on for more interesting info about katsu-don:
The main ingredients of Katsu Don are:
The most popular version of katsu-don consists of beaten egg simmered in a sauce with onions and the fried pork cutlet, before being layered over a bowl of rice (known as tamagotoji katsu-don 卵とじカツ丼).
It is similar to oyako-don, except it uses a pork cutlet instead of chicken.
Some other regional variations of katsu-don do not use egg, and consists of just the pork cutlet on rice with a sauce (i.e. sauce katsudon). One example is “Komagane sauce katsudon” from Nagano prefecture. See below for more examples.
Pork is the most common meat used, although there is also chicken katsu-don, beef katsu-don, etc.
Katsu-don is found all across Japan. It is a popular food to order at restaurants, as it usually reasonably priced, and very filling.
Many regions also have their own local variation/specialty of katsu-don. Here are a few regional varieties:
Sauce Katsudon from Fukui, Nagano, Niigata and more
Sauce katsudon (ソースカツ丼) is the most common variety of katsudon apart from the typical egg-based version. Many regions in Japan have their own version of sauce katsudon, including Fukui, Nagano, Kiryu, Gunma, and Fukushima prefectures
Each of these regions have their own unique twist and flavor on Katsudon. For example, Niigata’s katsudon uses thinner than usual pork cutlet with a sweet and spicy sauce.
Fukui Prefecture is said to be the original location of sauce-katsudon.
Nagoya-style Miso Katsudon
Katsu-don (and tonkatsu) from Nagoya is famous across the country for its miso-based sauce.
Okayama style Demi-Katsudon
Katsu-don from Okayama is known for using a demi-glace sauce.
History / Origin of Katsu Don
There are a few theories around about the origin of katsu-don in Japan. Here are a couple:
The First Katsudon
The first katsu-don in Japan is said to have been created by a soba restaurant in Kofu City (Yamanashi Prefecture) back in the early 1900s.
The owner of the restaurant (Okumura Honten 奥村本店) went to Tokyo and tried tonkatsu for the first time. He liked it so much that he wanted to incorporate it into his restaurant’s menu.
Soba restaurants at the time mainly served rice bowls which only required one bowl (like oyako don), as it was easier for delivery. So, the owner simply placed the tonkatsu on top of a bowl of rice, and katsu-don was born!
Unlike today’s egg-based katsudon or sauce-katsu, the original katsudon had no egg, and simply had sauce served on the side.
The original restaurant is still in business today (over 360 years)! If you happen to be around Kofu City, make sure to go and try an original katsu-don (Google Maps link)
Waseda student inspires first egg katsu-don
Modern day egg-based katsu-don can trace its roots back to a small restaurant near Waseda University in Tokyo called “Sanchoan” (三朝庵).
The owner had made many pork cutlets (i.e. tonkatsu) to prepare for a banquet. Unfortunately, many guests cancelled, and the restaurant was leftover with many (cold) pork cutlets.
The owner did not know what he should do with the leftovers, as he could not serve cold tonkatsu to customers. A student who was a regular customer suggested he make it into an egg bowl. So, he boiled the tonkatsu in soba soup and covered it with an egg.
It gradually became popular, and modern day egg-style katsu-don was born!
Unfortunately, Sanchoan closed in 2018.
Katsu Don Recipe
- Waseda University has more theories about origin of katsudon (in Japanese) – Link
Have you ever tried katsu-don before? What did you think of it?
Leave your thoughts and comments below!