Friday, 22 January 2016

Tonkatsu by Wa Kitchen @ Pavilion

Tonkatsu by Wa Kitchen @ Pavilion, touted as the first tonkatsu outlet in Malaysia, has been around for about 4 years now.  Even though I frequent Pavilion quite a bit, this place seemed to have eluded me thus far coz, each time I'm here, I've been attracted to other options available here. 

But a recent post on the place by ccfoodtravel reminded me that I should finally give this place a visit.  I do eat fried food every now and then but not entirely fond of an entire meal made up of fried food though. 

Once seated and our orders made, you'd find these condiments (along with a mini pestle and mortar) on the table.  So, while you wait for your food to arrive, you can start making your dipping sauce first.  For the uninitiated, they may not know what to do with these condiments if they're eating here for the first time, so I'll show you (in fact, I didn't know what that bottle of oil/sauce-like thing was for).

I put a few spoonsful of roasted sesame seeds into the mini pestle and grind them finely (into a paste) or coarsely as you wish (I like it slightly coarse).  You can smell the fragrance when you crush the sesame seeds.

Next, I added the tonkatsu sauce (which is kind of similar to a thick Japanese Worcestershire sauce) with a sweet-salty-tangy taste to the crushed sesame seeds...and the sauce should be done.

But then the resulting sauce looked a bit thick to me and, when I noticed a bottle of 'something' on the table (it tasted like flavoured oil), I decided to add that to my sauce to thin it out a bit (maybe it's not meant for this but who says I can't be different, eh?).  Final result....perfecto...and my sauce is ready! ;)

Most of the meals are offered in sets and since its namesake is tonkatsu (which means pork cutlet), it makes sense that our first order was Set 3, the Hire Katsu + Ubi Furai Zen @ RM36.  It was made up of breaded pork fillet cutlet and prawn served with sliced cabbage, tofu, pickled vegetables, pork and vegetable miso soup, rice and a tartar sauce (made with some pickled relish, probably gherkins, and chopped parsley).  [#Tip: If you want just pork, Set 4 of Hire Katsu + Rosu Katsu Zen @ RM34 offers both the pork fillet and pork loin cutlets.]

I was delighted with the two rather huge prawns on the plate.  No complaints there as they were fresh...and, well.....huge! 

The breaded pork fillets that were dredged lightly in flour, dipped in beaten egg and coated with panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) had a good crunch on the outside.  I felt the pork was tender enough to the bite but the crumbed pieces definitely benefitted from a squeeze of lemon.

Of course the set comes with generous helpings of tofu, pickled vegetables, miso soup and rice.  The agedashi tofu, served chilled, also provided some freshness to the otherwise predominantly fried meal.  You'll be assured of leaving here with full tummies as the cabbage, miso soup and rice come with unlimited refills.

The set also came with a helping of shredded cabbage...I've not seen cabbage julienned so finely...I liked that they had an enjoyable crunch and was great paired with the tartar sauce (but since that wasn't quite enough), I added a few dashes of that flavoured oil over the balance cabbage and it tasted a lot nicer.   

Our other order was Set 11, the Seafood Furai Zen @ RM48, which featured a piece of breaded salmon, oyster and scallop each with two (big) prawns.

It came with the same condiments as the set above.  You'd also find a dollop of something yellow on the plate which I suspect to be either mustard or wasabi (and since I hate both, I stayed clear of it).

Again, the seafood was expertly fried at the right temperature to render it not oily.  The salmon was nice and flaky, the oyster bursting with juices, the scallop soft and moist and the prawn fresh and crunchy.  Of the four, I probably enjoyed the oyster the most because of the juiciness.

The condiment of miso soup looked like just any miso soup (I had before) but was pleasantly surprised when I found quite a bit of ingredients in it.  The soup had bits of pork, shiitake mushrooms, daikon and some kind of gelatin sheets...nice!

Our drinks of Mango Juice @ RM7 and
Iced Green Tea @ RM4 (which is refillable as well)

My Personal Opinion

This meal is great for heavy-eaters as they can have their appetites fully satisfied with refills of rice, soup and vegetables to their hearts content.  For me, I couldn't even finish my portion of rice, soup and vegetables that came with the set (let alone ask for refills).  [#Note: But I did see families on the tables to my right and left (with children) asking for refills of rice, soup and vegetables when they shared the mains with their children. Some might see this as taking advantage of the deal and feel that it's not the right thing to do....but I'm alright with it (as long as they don't overdo it and stick to just one refill).  After all, what can they do if their children can't finish a main on his or her own.  I think restaurants these days will exercise discretion and allow for some flexibility.]

There will be some who would feel that the pork and seafood are on the dry side coz, halfway through the meal, I did feel that way too but I don't think I'd put the blame on the proteins though.  To me, it was the dryness of the breadcrumbs coating that made me feel that way.  The thick crispy breadcrumb coating is nothing like the light tempura batter (which I prefer) but I can see this appealing to the young who'd like anything fried and everything crumbed! ;D

Another thing that I picked up was that the pork and seafood came off as very under-seasoned, bordering on bland.  I'm not sure if they were even marinated with salt and pepper.....maybe they were deliberately left unseasoned.  That's why you have to eat it with the tonkatsu sauce, otherwise it'll be totally bland tasting. 

Would I come back for more?  Probably.....but not anytime soon!  This fully fried (and dry) meal will last me a long while.

Tonkatsu by Wa Kitchen
Lot 6.12.00 Level 6 Pavilion KL
168 Jalan Bukit Bintang
50250 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-2144 2992


  1. I've been to Tonkatsu by Ma Maison at Publika, super love the pork chop there! I saw a special machine to shred the cabbage, very impressive when I watched the process. I didn't see any sesame dressing for the salad on the table, did they provide it?

    1. This is a different tonkatsu from the one by Ma Maison, so the dressing would probably be not the same ones. Yeah, the thinly shredded cabbage is quite a sight to behold.

  2. Oh the rice, soup and vegetables are refillable! The prawns do look very big and prawn lovers would be very happy with this meal. I love fried food, so I will add this Tonkatsu to my list :)

    1. I'm sure you and your brother will be full to the brim with the meals here with all the unlimited refills! ;)

  3. I'm sorry, but I'm more drawn to the miso soup. I don't think I have ever seen such a loaded miso soup served in any Japanese restaurant in Malaysia!

    1. Yeah, I'm more used to the types of miso soup that only have a few cubes of tofu in them, so I was pleasantly surprised with this one that came with abundant ingredients :)

  4. haha. thank you for the plug! and yes I agree some of the dishes were too dry... sigh. Kinda hope they improve that! :D

  5. I have eaten here once back in 2011. The pork without any marinate is supposed to be full of juicy original pork goodness - that's what I tasted when I ate Tonkatsu in Tokyo. Here I don't know what pork they use but the pork original juicy taste is not as good as those pork meat used in Tokyo so I never went back to this eatery for more though I have been back in Tokyo for more Tonkatsu. But I do eat Tonkatsu in Ma Maison at One Utama because I find the pork meat there to be more tasty without any sauce and without any marinate. Ma Maison does have verbal rule that the waiters/waitress will convey to any table when not all the people there order a set each to let you know that if not everyone orders a set each they cannot ask for refills. I am not sure how they handle this for tables with children. I guess it depends on the age of the children. I guess maybe Wa Kitchen make enough money to close an eye to free loaders. I don't think Japanese does this in Japan, freeloading I mean but then their currency is also not as weak as ours. Well enough said.

    1. This is mainly because majority of the people in developed countries like Japan (and Westerners) practice common courtesy, where they understand "free refill" does not mean "kiasu and take advantage". When I say developed, I mean the people's attitude rather than infrastructure. I've had buffets in Tokyo and US, they rarely go more than 2 rounds: 1 for mains and 1 for desserts.

      Here, got a lot of kiasu people, you mention the word "free" and it would be chaos. Of course, not all are like that. I'm sure you are not like that too. But I'm sure you know what I mean. That's why need some ground rules to control the "mob"...

    2. I've not eaten tonkatsu in Japan nor tried the ones in Ma Maison, so I can't compare what is meant as the original juicy taste of pork.

      Well, if Ma Maison set their ground rules upfront, then it's fine as their customers know ahead what they have to adhere to. But since Wa Kitchen has no such rules, I wouldn't want to categorise parents with children (or anyone) as freeloaders either if the restaurant exercised discretion and allowed (and brought them) the refills. I don't think it's a question of Wa Kitchen making enough money and closing their eyes to these so-called freeloaders but a question of the restaurant's eye for flexibility. In fact, when I dined at Steaks & Lobsters, the servers kept coming back to heap refills for you even without you asking, so I guess that makes me a freeloader too. I think these restaurants are "smart" enough to not put too much emphasis on these sides as, after all, they don't cost much and they'd rather look at the "bigger" picture.

      As for the Japanese being not freeloaders, I wouldn't know about that (nor want to generalise) as I wasn't there long enough (only as a tourist) or ate tonkatsu while there.

    3. Yes, RG, I know what you mean. I used to wonder why people would pile food onto their plates like a mountain when they can go as many rounds as they want in buffets. After all, a buffet's definition means you are allowed to eat until you're full (and everyone has a different stomach size) :D I do agree with you on common courtesy which is lacking though....I guess it's the way some of us are brought up. I don't judge anyone coz I don't know his or her could be a meal he couldn't afford and saved up for a long time to have, so he would want to take full advantage and go as many rounds as his stomach can withstand...haha!

      Who are we to judge anyway...whether someone is a freeloader or practises common courtesy.....only God judges!

  6. a great tonkatsu, juicy and flavoursome, would be really enjoyable for sinking our teeth into! :)

    1. Oh, I heard the ones by Ma Maison is more juicy but I've not had the chance to try those yet ;)

  7. Thanks for the look inside. I too have walked past many times but never entered.

    1. But this one is a fried meal which probably wouldn't be your 'cup of tea' I think.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...