Saturday, October 27, 2012

Kurobuta Rosu Katsu @ Kagura, Torrance - Quick Visit

Here we have an atsugiri kurobuta rosu (thick-cut berkshire loin) katsu from Kagura in Torrance. I have to admit, to the moment until I finally took my first bite I was bracing myself for the dry/tougher overcooked tonkatsu (Japanese pork cutlet) I've often jadedly had in So. Cal., but was pleasantly surprised at it's moist tenderness, as well as that prerequisite (for a rosu) band of fat running through the cutlet like Sergeant's stripe.

The only bummer was that the shorter fragile bread crumbs didn't resemble fresh nama panko, but maybe more important that lard wasn't used for the fry oil (komeyu, rice bran oil is used here). Both would've yielded an additional layer of subtly sweet and deliciously superb pierce-the-roof-of-your-mouth outer crust. I give it a solid B+ but could be much harder for the asking $15.95. Pretty average for Tokyo prices but there were a few loose ends.

As it was lunch, the B-crew may have been on duty in the kitchen as I thought the presentation could've been a little more careful. (I had rearranged and doctored it up quite a bit before taking the photo.) The gozen set includes all the above plus AYCE shredded cabbage and a lovely smaller chawanmushi (savory egg custard) that I really enjoyed its stronger dashi flavor. The sengiri kyabetsu was cut extremely fine and nice, but some of the edges were wilted giving away that it was made much earlier in advance. The dressing was a nice, lightly tart and sweet of grated onions and/or daikon, but I'll be asking for it plain next time as I enjoy it with katsu sauce in the given context.

The sauce here wasn't too acidic and nice (as I find some Tonkatsu sauces can actually overpower like most steak sauces do steak). Flavor wise was more a mid Chu-Nou that was sweeter yet acidic enough to help cut through some of the fat. The sesame seeds which you grind yourself in a mini mortar and pestle was a nice touch which you can incorporate into your sauce though mine I preferred sprinkled directly over.

I've known about the teishoku-ya in Little Tokyo T.O.T. for some time but only first heard of their sister Kagura restaurants from commenter Rina on my Mille-feuille Tonkatsu Trial recently (the post itself dating back in '09). A quick first looksie at their menu and I could sense my pupils dilate at the all-star lineup of great sounding Japanese Yoshoku (wiki link). Various Katsu sets to Japanese Hambaagu to even an Omurice that looked very tempting.

Later researching I found a writeup from ExileKiss back when they were a more upscale Kappo-ya and also another when they downscaled a year later to become the Tonkatsu specialist they are today.

A view of another piece courtesy of Instagram. The lovely 1/2" band of fat give it that ying-yang compliment match to the leaner (but moist) end.

Prices are definitely on the high side but for me was actually refreshing to see a place taking the Westernized Japanese neo-soul food Yoshoku to its more original classy representation.  I shall one day try that Katsu-jyu box.

Kagura - Tokyo Tonkatsu and Sake Bar, 1652 Cabrillo Avenue, Torrance, CA 90501


K and S said...

yeah the thicker slices are often so dry. glad this one wasn't.

Dennis K. said...

Hi Kat! It's all about taking into account carry-over heat. Too bad they didn't use lard here (for a katsu specialist), It's probably a California thing but I'm usually not thinking of my diet when having tonkatsu! ;)