We’ve never met a pork cutlet we didn’t love, but will that streak continue?

Katsu is the Japanese word for “cutlet,” but it’s also used as shorthand for “pork cutlet.” Having an abbreviated form comes in handy, since there are so many delicious ways to eat katsu, such as tonkatsu (a pork cutlet by itself), katsudon (pork cutlet rice bowls), katsu sandwiches, and katsu curry.

But we’ve always got room in our stomach for a new take on katsu, and pork cutlet specialty restaurant chain Katsuya is giving us just that with their newest menu item: katsu soba!

You can get soba (buckwheat noodles) in Japan with various toppings, such as strips of meat or pieces of tempura, but we’d never heard of it being topped with katsu. Since it’s our solemn duty to stay up to the minute with developments in the fried food world, we headed to our local Katsuya branch to try it out (the 759-yen [US$5.40] katsu soba is only available as an eat-in item).

After a short wait, our food arrived, and we had to do a double-take. Viewed from directly above, the katsu soba is almost indistinguishable from a pork cutlet rice bowl. Shift the angle you’re looking at it from, though…

…and you’ll see the soba noodles underneath.

We were impressed by how well the katsu was holding up. We’d braced ourselves for the possibility that its breading would be soggy and crumbling, but it looked both beautiful and delicious, since the cutlet rests on top of the noodles, keeping it from sinking too deep into the bowl and getting submerged in broth.

However, as pretty as our bowl of katsu soba looked, we also felt some sort of angry aura. We looked around, worried that one of our many sworn enemies might have followed us into the restaurant, but nope, no one was shooting daggers at us with their eyes. Then we looked back down at our food and saw where the negative energies were coming from.

“Hey! Did you forget about me over here?”

Yep, the katsu soba comes with a bowl of white rice. Ordinarily, this is where the egg-enhanced cutlet would be sitting, as part of a katsudon, but the rice had been relegated to a lonely bit player in this meal.

▼ We could almost feel its jealousy towards the soba noodles for stealing away its customary culinary partner.

We pushed away the awkwardness, though, and picked up our chopsticks for a taste.

We were happy to learn that, just like it looked, the katsu retained a pleasing texture even while soaking up some of the broth for extra flavor. The cutlet was deliciously seasoned, and it turn out katsu goes surprisingly well with soba broth, since both it and katsu have rich and salty notes to their taste. The noodles were nice too, if perhaps a little on the soft side.

We did have one minor complaint, though. The full name of Katsuya’s katsu soba is “Katsuni Hiyashi Soba,” and the hiyashi part means “cold.” Soba with cold broth is a tasty and refreshing summer dish, but you can’t really keep cold broth and a freshly fried cutlet in the same bowl together, and the heat of the katsu made the broth lukewarm.

Serving the katsu soba with hot broth might have been the better choice. Still, it tasted great, and considering the fact that the weather in Japan can still get pretty hot in early September, maybe this isn’t such a bad deci-


Yeah, about this time we started to feel the presence of the rice again. We were starting to feel sorry for it now, so we decided to throw it a bone…or, more accurately, to throw it some katsu.

A quick transfer of a few pieces of the katsu, and we had ourselves a mini katsudon.

Now everyone was happy, the katsudon, the soba, the rice, and, most importantly, our stomach.

Related: Katsuya location finder
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