Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Katsu at 杏子 (Anzu)

杏子 store front

In an unexpected alley near the 和平捷運站 (He Ping MRT), there exists a quaint little Japanese restaurant that has a store front that garners little attention to onlookers (see above), but houses one of the more famous pork Katsu dishes in Taipei... 杏子 which apparently is 'Anzu' in Japanese. Well aware that I am a grade-A fatass, one of my aunts decided it would be a good idea if I experienced what she called the 'best pork cutlet in Asia.' Coming from a woman who could possibly out eat me, I respect her opinion greatly. Despite that, I was still a bit skeptical of that claim, considering we weren't in Japan. Anyway, I'm not one to turn down a free meal, so I went in with low expectations...

The 'specials' menu

Before I could make it into the front door, I was greeted by a little sign with the daily special, which was a cheese filled pork katsu. This isn't tremendously unique in Taiwan, but it also isn't something that every shop has, so that was a pleasant surprise. Let's be honest, I like cheese a lot, I like pork a lot too, and I most certainly like when people fry stuff. At the very least, I would be snacking on something that combines 3 of my favorite elements of cuisine.

Scallions & garlic katsu

I made someone else order the scallions and garlic katsu (290 NT or ~$9) for comparisons sake. I actually didn't get to eat too much of this (okay, so maybe I stole a few pieces from the other plate), but my overall impression was... despite an excellent crust, the toppings of scallion and garlic paste was overwhelming when compared to the delicate taste of the pork. In the end, you just end up with a mouth smelling like garlic, with no positive memories of the dish. Skip this unless your taste buds are entirely dead.

Cheese katsu

I ordered the special as advertised. For the same 290 NT, a pork katsu sandwiching a thick filling of cheese. Mmmm, golden fried pork with creamy dairy filling. What hidden treasures lay inside?

Cheesy innards

THIS! So let me explain this dish. You might think you've experienced katsu, but you haven't experienced it. The shop selects a supremely fatty cut of pork cutlet (not disgustingly oily, just enough to render the meat stupid tender), beats the crap out of it, slices it along the bias, stuffs in a large slab of mozzarella, then covers the creation in panko breadcrumbs, then fries to a perfect tint of goldenrod. The end result is a crust that presents an initial crunch reminiscent of a potato chip, yields to a layer of meat tender enough to pull apart with chopsticks, and a center layer of melted cheese just barely viscous enough to remain within the sliced cutlet. Yes, it's that good. I'm no authority on pork katsu (or any other food for that matter), but I have eaten enough of them to recognize the superiority of this one. Maybe it's not the greatest cutlet on the Pacific rim, but let's be honest... for under $10, I'd be a mega idiot if I said it wasn't incredible.


Baby Madison said...

**drools** cheese katsu sounds so good right now!!!

Danny said...

mmm... fried pork goodness with cheese. That almost has to be good. It looks like some bar could totally make a name for itself if it served it up at the great hours of 1am to 4am... lots of people would love a bar that could do a cutlet like that!

bionicgrrrl said...

OMG, pork and cheese! I want it! It's like the love child of a fried mozzarella stick and tonkatsu.

Anonymous said...

Wow I've never had a cheese katsu before, but that sounds great!!! Do they have katsu curry!?!? (That's my fave x])

Nicholas said...

@Baby Madison there's another place in the basement of SOGO that does the same thing. It's a toss up as far as which one tastes better, but Anzu gets a thumbs up as far as I'm concerned. Pricier than most places in Taipei, but holy crap.

@Danny can you imagine if Zaiya had this inside of bread, and made it into a cutlet sandwich? (This place also does that. Think super soft buttery Wonder bread sliced into strips).

@bionicgrrl if only bacon were somehow involved...

@munchimonster sorry! No curry here! I actually haven't found a curry katsu I've 'fallen in love with' here. Lots of good places, but Go Go still stands at the top of that heap.

joanh said...

i've never tried the cheese katsu at anzu but i do like their tonaktsu! i find their cuts to be a tad bit fatty for me. you should try the curry katsu from saboten with lei-ji pork! saboten is still my favorite tonkatsu place!

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