Talk about tonkatsu in Tokyo and everyone has their favourites. Some like it casual and fuss-free, some like it more elaborate with a myriad of cuts to choose from.
For us, a good tonkatsu meal can be both (depending on the amount of time we have for that day) but some memories stay in our hearts for always—that is a good meal at Butagumi. We’ve tried numerous tonkatsu restaurants in Tokyo and the experience at Butagumi is one that never fails, no matter which time of the year we visit.
It is also little wonder why this restaurant is often at the top of mind among both locals and visitors to Tokyo, for their dedication to tonkatsu is definitely a notch higher than your regular tonkatsu restaurants.
Set in a traditional Japanese house, Butagumi takes up a dual-storey unit in Roppongi. It is far off the main road, and inconspicuous even upon turning into the narrow lane, so you really have to look out for it. It is a really small space, so be sure to make a reservation to avoid being disappointed.
The menu will leave you mind-boggled. It has almost 30 kinds of Japanese premium pork and cuts (save for 3-4 Spanish options (such as Iberico), starting from the leanest to the fattiest—start reading from the top left downwards, then onto the next column on the right downwards, so on and so forth. It gets fattier and fattier as you go. You can expect pork from different regions of Japan.
To not confuse you, they have indications on the menu on the daily cuts available, and it usually narrows down to about 10 options or less.
If the Himuro-buta from Gunma is available, that’s a great entry-level option that’s tender and slightly fatty. The Pork Belly cut (¥3,200) from this range was quite a luxurious slab for its price.
The Golden Boar Pork from Hyogo (¥3,500) had a wonderful meat to fat ratio, and is best for those who are inclined to getting a fatty and juicy cut.
Every serving of tonkatsu comes with your pickles, Japanese rice, a bowl of rich and slightly smoky miso soup and shredded cabbage (which you should enjoy with the bottled house sauce on the side). The waiting time may be a bit longer than usual (on average, we always had to wait at least 20 minutes) but good things are well worth the wait, yes?
Butagumi is a tonkatsu institution in its own rights and one that exudes elegance and finesse amidst its traditional, humble setting. The next time you find yourselves in Tokyo, do make it a point to have a meal there!
2 Chome-24-9 Nishiazabu, Minato City
Tel: +81 3-5466-6775