Free refills are often part of the deal at tonkatsu joints, but usually not for the cutlets themselves.

If you’re in Japan and extra-hungry, tonkatsu (deep-fried pork cutlet) is usually a good call. Not only is tonkatsu delicious and filling, in a lot of restaurants the tonkatsu set meals come with free refills of rice, cabbag

We recently stumbled across an even better tonkatsu deal for when you’ve got a big appetite, though: a restaurant in Tokyo that offers all-you-can eat tonkatsu itself!

We found this great deal at Tonvege, a restaurant in the Lumine Est shopping center that’s attached to Shinjuku Station in downtown Tokyo. Tonvege is primarily a shabu-shabu restaurant, so we were unsure if they’d know what they were doing with tonkatsu. A little research, though, told us that Tonvege is a sister restaurant to the Inaba Wako chain of tonkatsu specialty restaurants, and so we decided to give their all-you-can-at tonkatsu a shot.

▼ The sign for the all-you-can-eat tonkatsu meal (below it is one for all-you-can-eat karaage fried chicken)

The all-you-can-eat tonkatsu deal costs 1,920 yen (US$14) after tax, a little more than you’d pay for a regular single-serving tonkatsu set, but still far less than you’d pay for two. You get 90 minutes for as many refills of cutlet and rice as you want, and you also have soup and a salad as part of the set.

When our server brought our food to the table, everything looked, and more importantly tasted, delicious, but there was still one thing we were worried about. It takes time to fry a cutlet, so how much of our all-you-can-eat time would be wasted waiting for our next tonkatsu?

Thankfully, this turned out to not be an issue at all. First, the clock doesn’t start running on your 90 minutes until your first batch of food is served, not when you place your initial order.

Second, even before we’d finished our first cutlet, our server noticed we were getting close to being done with it and asked if we wanted another. We said yes, and getting the request in early like that let us receive our second cutlet right about the time we were finishing our first.

Speaking of refills, Tonvege serves four different kind of fried cutlet: rosu (pork loin), hire (pork fillet), menchi (mincemeat), and cheese-filled chicken. Switching between them when you ask for a refill is A-OK, so we followed up our pork loin with a cheese chicken cutlet.

You also get little dishes filled with sauce, grated daikon radish, and salt, and mixing and matching the condiments lets you experience not just a decadent quantity of cutlets, but an impressive variety of flavors too.

We did notice that unlike with our first cutlet, the staff didn’t take it upon themselves to ask us if we wanted another as we got close to finishing cutlet number two, so it looks like you’ll have to flag a server down if you’re going for round three. Personally, we tapped out after our second, since we hadn’t known we were going to be doing all-you-can eat tonkatsu (or that such a thing existed) this day, but we still walked away from the table very full and very happy.

Restaurant information
Tonvege (Lumine Est branch) / トンベジ(ルミネエスト新宿店)
Address: Tokyo-to, Shinjuku-ku, Shinjuku 3-38-1, Lumine Est 7th floor
東京都新宿区新宿3-38-1 ルミネエスト 7F
Open 11 a.m.-4:15 p.m., 5 p.m.-10 p.m.

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