New Eats: Tonkatsu Tamafuji

Tonkatsu Tamafuji features an open kitchen with the copper frying pots right up front

Seems like Hawaii has been getting a recent influx of restaurant “chains” from Japan – Yakitori Hachibei, Katsumidori Sushi, and of course all the vendors at both the Shirokiya Village Walk and Waikiki Yokocho. Now you can add Tonkatsu Tamafuji, a chain of restaurants from Sapporo, to the list. The restaurant had only been open for 6 days during our visit, but word has seemingly spread quickly as it was a full house even for an early lunch.

Tonkatsu Tamafuji affords you everything you would expect of a Japanese tonkatsu restaurant, except for unlimited miso soup. However, the meal sets do come with unlimited rice (with three types of rice to choose from), cabbage, and pickles. The menu is pretty simple with a selection of meats or combo plates. I think they just recently started their katsudon menu, which I will need to return for. Outside of the traditional tonkatsu experience there are also a couple of welcomed twists.

Choice of sauces, one spicy and one sweet
Sesame seeds in a bowl for you to grind and then mix with your choice of sauce
I went with spicy sauce to start but ended up combining the two eventually

The first uniqueness of Tonkatsu Tamafuji is the sauce. The sauces themselves are fairly standard, but here you are provided a little extra level of flavor via sesame seeds. A small mortar bowl is provided for you to grind up the seeds before adding your sauce. The aroma of sesame seed and their roasted flavor adds just a hint of extra deliciousness to your katsu experience.

Umeboshi, takuan, and pickled cucumber with baby eggplants

Pickle service here also stands out. Your table is provided with three small pots of different pickled vegetables. Although all of them are more traditional offerings, the variety of pickles is very nice and each does have its own difference in flavor which you can add with your tonkatsu or rice.

Mixed seasoned rice , reminiscent of kamameshi

For your set you are provided a bowl of miso soup (red or white miso, with clams or with tofu), unlimited cabbage (with sesame or ginger dressing), and unlimited rice. For the rice you are provided with three options – plain white, mixed seasoned, or 5 grain with wasabi. All the rice comes from Japan and is milled here locally. We really enjoyed the mixed season rice as it was full of flavor, almost a dish unto itself.

Tonkatsu Tamafuji’s signature pork loin (280g portion)

On to the main event! Tonkatsu Tamafuji offers a variety of proteins including shrimp, chicken, and oysters. However, their signature item is the Jyukusei Pork Loin. This pork is sourced from the mainland and then aged for 18 days prior to being served. The aging process intensifies the flavor and tenderizes the meat. For the Jyukusei pork you are given the choice of size, starting at 160 grams up to 450 grams (one pound). The panko bread crumbs used on all the fried items is made here locally from dried bread sourced from La Tour. The breading is excellent with a delicate crispiness.

Oyster Katsu Set (5 pieces)
Shrimp Katsu Set (5 pieces)

Tonkatsu Tamafuji delivers a great overall experience worthy of its Japanese heritage. Everything was prepared well and we didn’t really have any nitpicks on the food at all. The only negative was a little spotty service with a few of the servers, but I attribute that to being so new. Once the service kinks are ironed out I think Tamafuji will be the new standard for tonkatsu in Honolulu.

Tonkatsu Tamafuji
449 Kapahulu Avenue
Honolulu, HI 96815
808.922.1212

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