Is something so wondrous as an instant pork cutlet bowl allowed to exist in our reality?

Katsudon is one of Japan’s greatest meals…provided you’re not the one doing the cooking. The katsu part of the rice bowl’s name refers to a pork cutlet, and as delicious as katsu is, breading and deep-frying it in your home kitchen, plus adding the egg coating and other seasonings, then dealing with the cleanup afterward, can be a pretty big hassle.

But what if you could have the pleasure of katsudon with next to no effort involved in preparing it? That’s the sounds-too-good-to-be-true offer Japan’s Amano Foods makes with its instant freeze-dried tonkatsu.

Amano makes all sorts of freeze-dried soup packets for things like miso soup and tonjiru stew. But we’re talking about a solid food here, and we have to admit we were a little skeptical about the idea of a freeze-dried pork cutlet that you prepare by pouring boiling water over it. Our visual first impression wasn’t particularly reassuring either, as right out of the package it looks more like a block of tofu than a pork cutlet.

Preparing the katsu is simple, with not much to do other than pouring boiling water over it. It’s recommended that you transfer it to a slightly larger bowl first, since it’ll expand as it absorbs the water. Once the water is boiled, pour 120 milliliters (4.1 ounces) onto the cutlet, insert your chopsticks into one of the openings in the pre-semi-sliced piece of meat, and gently jostle the cutlet for 60 seconds.

As soon as we poured on the water, a delicious aroma of bonito stock wafted up with the steam, making our stomach growl just like it does at the scent of restaurant katsudon.

Rice isn’t included with the cutlet, so you’ll need to prepare it separately, but you can easily heat up a microwave pack while you’re boiling the water. With katsu and rice both ready, it was time to combine them into a katsudon.

Taste-testing duty/privilege fell to our Japanese-language reporter Anji Tabata, and she was immediately impressed with the flavor and texture of the meat. The pork loin is neither soggy nor crumbly, but pleasantly meaty, and the breading is wonderfully flavorful too with the soy and katsu sauce that soaks into it. Even the egg is properly fluffy and creamy in flavor, and the mitsuba (Japanese parsley) leaves give the whole thing a nice, classy touch too.

It would have been better still if the meat was even thicker and juicier, but honestly, that’s not really much of a criticism as we’ve never found a piece of meat that we thought was too thick and juicy.

So in the end, instant freeze-dried katsudon really did satisfy Anji’s katsudon cravings because it really does taste like katsudon. It’s available here through Amano Foods online shop in a two-pack for 1,900 yen (US$12.90), which isn’t amazingly cheap, but isn’t all that bad either considering you’re paying for the wonder of instant katsudon, and especially when its freeze-dried nature means you can enjoy it while traveling or camping too.

Photos ©SoraNews24
● Want to hear about SoraNews24’s latest articles as soon as they’re published? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!
[ Read in Japanese ]