The great taste of ice and fried pork – together at last!

It’s summer again in Japan, which means suffering months or languid heat and humidity, and having your appetite reduced to that of a Galapagos tortoise. Because of this, Japan has developed a rather keen sense of chilled foods to combat the malaise, such as deliciously chilled somen noodles and mind-bogglingly plentiful options for iced coffee and shaved ice.

There’s also a certain intriguing cold dish that has existed for decades now at least, and yet even most Japanese people are probably still unaware of its existence. It can go by a few names such as “hiyashi katsudon,” “hiyadashi katsudon,” or “hiyashidon,” but it all basically translates to “chilled katsudon.”

Everyone who knows Japanese food is familiar with regular katsudon, which is a breaded and fried pork cutlet coated further with a gooey fried egg and served on top of a bowl of piping hot rice with sauce and onions. Needless to say, it tastes awesome, but on especially hot days it can be too heavy to stomach.

This presents a problem for restaurants that specialize in tonkatsu (fried pork cutlets), so during the summer months only, some of them will offer chilled katsudon too. The exact recipe varies from place to place, but essentially the cutlet is fried as usual. The rice, however, is sometimes washed in cold water after cooking.

The cutlet is then placed on top of the rice and everything gets doused in an ice-cold sweet soup stock. Side dishes can be added too, and it’s probably best served with a lot of the cool toppings found in somen, like cucumbers or okra.

It all sounds rather experimental, but considering how good somen tastes, chilled katsudon certainly has potential. You just have to find it first.

The Kobe chain Katsudon Yoshibe offered hiyadashi katsudon in 2019, but it’s not listed on their menu as of this writing. It’s still only June though, and there’s a chance they might bring it out later this summer.

▼ Katsudon Yoshibe’s hiyadashi katsudon


According to FCT News, a bento delivery service in Fukushima called Hamiben is currently serving up hiyashidon. Also, in Tokyo there’s a small chain of restaurants called Katsukichi that also serves hiyashidon. However, be warned that “Katsukichi” is a common name for tonkatsu restaurants all over Japan, the ones we are talking about are run by a company called Bodaiju.

Our reporter Ahiruneko tried some Hiyashidon from the Shibuya Katsukichi a few years ago and was blown away. This restaurant has been making chilled katsudon since 2001 and has become increasingly good at it.

The price was a little steep at 1,600 yen (US$14) per set, but Ahiruneko was given plentiful portions including an array of pickled food side dishes.

Our reporter was understandably nervous about digging into his cold and wet katsudon, but it only took one bite to make him a believer. The both was delightfully flavorful and sweet. Even more amazingly the fried cutlet was still crispy!

Even though he put back a lot of rice and meat, he didn’t feel bloated at all, and therein lies the true beauty of chilled katsudon.

We’ll leave you with the information for this restaurant, but if you dig around enough, chances are you can find a place that serves it wherever you are in Japan. Just be sure to look for it during the few summer months that this hidden gem of Japanese cuisine is usually served.

Restaurant information
Katsukichi (Shibuya location) / かつ吉 渋谷店
Tokyo-to, Shibuya-ku, Shibuya 3-9-10, KDC Shibuya Building B1
東京都渋谷区渋谷3-9-10 KDC渋谷ビルB1F

Source: FCT News, @Press, Katsudon Yoshibe, Hamiben
Images: ©SoraNews24 (Unless otherwise noted)
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