Brown Sugar Jello (Japanese-
Tasty tonkatsu heaven at Saboten
By Ruby Wu
Translated by Naomi Lai
111, Taichung Port (TaiZhongGang) Rd, Sec 2, 9F (Mitsukoshi Dept. Store)
Hours: weekday lunch 11 pm-3 pm (last order 2 pm), weekday dinner 5-10 pm (last order 9 pm); weekends 10:30 am-10:30 pm (last order 9:30 pm)
Credit cards accepted. 10% service cha
Saboten Tonkatsu originated in Tokyo's busy, famed Shinjuku area. With 44 years of history and over 400 franchise stores, this restaurant is known for its customer service, select ingredients and cooking skills. All this has made it the biggest tonkatsu restaurant chain in Japan, not to mention Taiwan, where its branches are equally known for quality and service.
Saboten provides many entree choices revolving around the tonkatsu (Japanese fried pork cutlet) theme, with the classic favorite remaining the basic, plain tonkatsu dish. Although the business is headquartered in Japan, its Taiwan branches source many ingredients locally, including pork from mature pigs farmed in Taitung and Guan Shan rice.
To enjoy all that Saboten offers at once, try the Saboten Special Set A (NT$370), which includes shrimp and two pork tonkatsu--a tenderloin (50g) and loin (30g). A highlight is the golden, crispy breading on the outer layer of the pork, which shows off the skills of the chef. The meal set also comes with potato salad, pickled beans and daikon pickled raddish, a large serving of sliced cabbage, hot miso soup, hot genmaicha (brown rice tea), and dessert. The best way to eat the cabbage is to put it on a little plate and drizzle it with some pomelo-flavored sauce. Extra servings of cabbage are free. Another unique touch is a small mortar (Japanese grinding bowl) provided with a mixture of white and black sesame seeds, so that diners can grind their own sesame sauce to go with their tonkatsu. Waiters will also keep your genmaicha filled. A sip of this brown rice and green tea combo washes away any oiliness from the meal, which is completed with a dessert of mocha ice cream topped with soy bean powder.
Other entrees include Pork Salad with Miso Souse (NT$120) made with thinly-sliced boiled pork on top of fresh vegetables, cucumbers, tomatoes and a special miso sauce. The Brown Sugar Jello (NT$120) is composed of a Japanese-style jello dipped in brown sugar syrup and soy bean powder. The Saboten Special Hot Pot (NT$380) offers you a healthy option during the dry season, while the Fried Oyster Variety Set (starting from NT$439) is made with fatty oysters imported directly from Japan. The juice of these oysters is locked in a crispy breading that preserves their nutritional content while adding a delicious texture.
Left: White and black sesame seedsand pork chop sauce
Left: Pork Salad with Miso Sauce