A life without tonkatsu (or pork katsu) is not worth living.
..Okay, that's a little extreme. I guess it's still worth living; it just won't be as awesome as one with katsu.
Out of all the different kinds of pounded, breaded, and deep fried pork that I've eaten in my life, the Japanese version is my favorite—it's the juiciest, most tender, and has the lightest, panko-based crust. When Kåre said that he had never eaten katsu before, my mission became clear: FEED KÅRE KATSU!
I took him to the katsu-centric Katsu-Hama in Midtown where we met up with Diana, Olivia, Amy, and Marcine. I liked that their menu featured sets for men, women, and children. Women can get the men's or ladies' set, but men can only get the men's (as it seems to say on the menu; Louanne says you men can order whatever your hearts desire!). I suppose it wouldn't be good for a menu to contribute to women's oppression.
Each of us who ordered katsu was given a small mortar and pestle with toasted sesame seeds to act as the katsu sauce receptacle and add toasty sesame flavor. Every table had its own tub of katsu sauce with a teeny ladle so you could drown your fried meat in as much sauce as possible. I don't know how to describe katsu sauce besides that it tastes like katsu sauce, but it's apparently based on ketchup and Worcestershire sauce and a bunch of other flavorings, so if you can imagine that...there you go. In other words, just go out and eat it. I am no help.
I was excited for my kurobuta katsu (Berkshire pork loin) in all its golden and fat-oozing glory, besides that it was possibly the priciest katsu I had ever eaten for $18 a pop.
But it failed. Or for $18, it failed. Sometimes fat is the most beautiful thing, when its like melty and buttery smooth; other times it's gristle-like and makes me feel nauseous. A few bits of fat in the katsu leaned towards the nauseating, "can't really chew this" end—I left them behind. And while I liked how crispy the crust was, I found it a bit too greasy and I didn't like how easily it fell off the meat. How could I be so critical of one of my most favorite foods? :( I tend to like all katsu; if something fudges with my katsu love, you know something's wrong.
I would've been better off getting Kåre's cheese-filled katsu with its center of exploding, molten, yellow cheese substance. Never before had thought of combining cheese and katsu, as cheese doesn't generally appear in my favorite Japanese foods. But why not? I grew up eating cheese-laden veal and chicken parmigiana. That's...um...kind of similar, in the fried cutlet family. I didn't try the cheesy katsu, but Kåre approved.
Although I wasn't very happy with my kurobuta katsu, I wouldn't totally write off Katsu-Hama. Their lunch specials are supposed to be good for the price. I'm perfectly happy getting katsu from Go Go Curry for less than $10 though.
We fled Midtown for dessert, down to the safe confines of Sundaes and Cones, my favorite conveniently located ice cream shop. Due to Marcine's suggestion, I had to get the seasonal pumpkin flavor. Kåre and I shared a two scoop cup, the other flavor being taro. Pumpkin was satisfyingly creamy and pumpkin spice-y; taro had that unique sweet and starchy flavor as always.
Here's a normal photo I took of Diana, Marcine, Kåre, and Amy.
And one Diana took of me trying to hug everyone. They promptly recoiled.
I don't blame em.
To finish off the week of Kåre (which ended over three weeks ago, but hey, who's counting), here's the last photo I took of him playing with (medium-sized) Manatee. Aw.
AND THAT ENDS KÅRE WEEK 2008!!! He is dearly missed. Kåre is doing fine back in Bergen, far, far away from New York City. :( My life went back to being boring and his went back to being Norwegian—and by that, I mean Utopian. Hopefully the next time I see him it'll be on Norwegian soil.
Kåre Week, Day 7: Banchan and Korean Tofu Stew at BCD
Kåre Week, Day 5 and 6: Home Cooking, Over-Porked at Minca, and Soft Serve Sundaes
Kåre Week, Day 4: Dim Sum, Random Art, and Arepas
Kåre Week, Day 3: Dumont Burger, Midtown Horrors, and BBQ (Fried) Chicken
Kåre Week, Day 2 (Part 2): Lower Manhattan Tour, Bubble Tea, and Sonia Rose
Kåre Week, Day 2 (Part 1): Freakin' Sweet Lunch at Momofuku Ssam Bar, and Riding the Staten Island Ferry
Kåre Week, Day 1: Falafels at Taim
Sundaes and Cones
95 E 10th St
New York, NY 10003