My parents recently traveled to Japan and amongst all the food they raved about, a tonkatsu (fried pork cutlet) really stood out. I grew up eating tonkatsu over rice with egg, with curry, in a sandwich…etc. It’s one of my favorite comfort food! I was excited to find Tonkatsu Ginza Bairin opened up a location in Waikiki that is located 2 minutes away by foot from our hotel, it’s supposed to be one of the top contender in the world of tonkatsu. If you have never been to the Waikiki area, the majority of tourists there are Japanese and every store has both English and Japanese signs and menus, so it’s not surprising to find lots of famous Japanese stores and restaurants set up shops in this area.
The Kurobuta tonkatsu is the most expensive item on the menu, at a whopping $36 per order. They claim to serve limited quantities daily until they sell out. We also ordered the pork tenderloin katsu ($23) and compared them side by side, the pork tenderloin was much tender and juicy! Not sure if they just had an off night or if ours was way overcooked, but the more expensive katsu tasted dry and slightly tough, and the less expensive tenderloin on the other hand was perfection.
While you are waiting for your meal, you get to work out your arm by grating a small bowl of sesame seeds. Once ground much finer, go ahead and add the tonkatsu sauce, mix to create and sauce/paste for dipping.
Customers can ask for seconds of cabbage and white rice, actually I believe you can get as much as you want. The cabbage is a very nice pairing with the cutlets, delicate balance with the crunchiness and the juiciness of the pork. It may seem like such an ordinary and simple meal, but in the end, it’s the quality of the pork they offer as it’s very rare to get such thick cuts of pork in Japanese restaurants. The pork is also fried in cotton seed oil and didn’t taste or smell greasy at all. I was definitely disappointed with the quality of the Kurobuta katsu (although still very yummy) but the tenderloin cut was really top notch!
Here is a picture of the delicious tenderloin katsu.
Bottom left: Kurobuta. Right: another picture of the tenderloin dinner. All plates come with a steamy bowl of miso soup and housemade pickle.
TGB is a small restaurant but they do take reservation. We went on a Friday night around 7:30pm without a reservation and waited for 20 minutes. It’s located on a slightly quieter street on the other side of the busy Beach Walk and very easy to find. Service was extremely friendly and courteous. Oh and on Friday and Saturday nights after 9pm, they dim the lights and serve up some small bites, late night “Izakaya” style. Seems like it would be a fun place to grab a beer, a few small bites, and just hang out with some friends. For our next visit (who knows when), I would love to try the regular cut and the tonkatsu sandwich plate!
There is a tiny store called “Henry’s Place” that sells yummy homemade sorbet and pre-assembled fruit bowls/cups. It’s just a couple doors down from TGB, go grab some dessert after dinner, it’s perfect for a late night stroll!
Outrigger Regency Beachwalk
255 Beach Walk
Honolulu, HI 96815