Looking for tonkatsu in Harajuku? Skip the queues at Maisen and visit Fukuyoshi instead - a charming mom n’ pop shop with tasty pork cutlets.
Hot, crispy breadcrumb batter encasing slices of moist pork loin. - image © Florentyna Leow
It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that most first-time visitors to Harajuku tend to eat tonkatsu at Maisen. That’s what everyone does. When I first lived in Tokyo, I queued up with everyone else. Maisen’s tonkatsu is famous, and justifiably so - it’s genuinely delicious and they have a wide variety of quality pork breeds to choose from. But now that I live in Tokyo, I’m less willing to queue for tonkatsu, especially if I just want a quick lunch. I’d rather eat at a place like Fukuyoshi instead.
The entrance is understated, but also stands out in a street full of hip clothes stores. - image © Florentyna Leow
Fukuyoshi is located on the side street running parallel to Meiji-dori, very near Meijijingumae Station. Get out from exit 5, and cross the street to Tokyu Plaza Omotesando Harajuku. Walk straight past, and take the first left at Goro’s. Keep walking. It’ll be on your right after passing a parking lot - the entrance, as you can see above, is quiet and understated.
The tonkatsu master working the deep-fryer behind the counter. - image © Florentyna Leow
Fukuyoshi is a mom n’ pop tonkatsu shop run by an elderly couple, with one waitress taking care of the tables. It’s a small but lively operation. Unsurprisingly, they don’t take reservations. More unusually, for a Japanese restaurant, they don’t have a name card, so you’ll just have to remember where it is - or star it on your Google Maps app.
I enjoyed sitting at the counter, and listening to the couple call out orders as they came in or as they were plated. Sometimes, instead of the usual “hai” of acknowledgement, the old man would shout, “okay degozaimasu!” which I thought was pretty cute. The old man does all the cooking, from frying up the cutlets to plating each order, complete with cabbage and all. His wife takes orders, and serves the rice and miso soup.
From left to right: tonkatsu sauce, horseradish/yellow mustard, soy sauce, table salt, shichimi seven spice pepper, toothpicks. - image © Florentyna Leow
On a weekday, this restaurant sees mainly office workers here on their lunch break. Perhaps it’s the nature of tonkatsu - deep-fried pork cutlets - but the patrons were mainly men. Turnover is fast. I walked in at 12.18pm and was seated at the counter immediately; within the first 5 minutes of being seated, 6 diners paid and left. People don’t tend to linger here. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t come with a large group - perhaps a group of 4 at most.
Miso soup and salted pickles (Napa cabbage and daikon radish). - image © Florentyna Leow
When you’re first seated, you’ll have a bowl of miso soup, pickles and disposable wooden chopsticks placed in front of you.
The paper uchiwa fan is, presumably, for keeping yourself cool in warmer weather. - image © Florentyna Leow
The menu is largely in Japanese, and they’ve only provided English notes for what seem to be just the most popular items on the menu. It’s a relatively short menu, so I’ve taken the liberty of translating it here. Note that ‘katsu’ generally refers to pork cutlet unless otherwise specified. These are all set menu items, so each order comes with rice, miso soup and pickles.
・上ヒレかつ Jo-hire katsu; high-quality fillet cutlet
・上ロースかつ Jo-rosu katsu; high-quality loin cutlet
・ヒレかつ Hire katsu; fillet cutlet
・ロースかつ Rosu katsu; pork loin cutlet
・串かつ Kushikatsu (in this case, skewered pork and green onion)
・鳥かつ Chicken cutlet
・鳥唐揚げ Japanese-style fried chicken
・エビミックス Mixed fried things with shrimp (fried shrimp, minced pork-and-potato cutlet, 2 small pork cutlets)
・ミックス（メンチ・コロッケ・小かつX２）Mixed fried things (minced pork-and-potato cutlet, potato croquette, 2 small pork cutlets)
・上ヒレ丼 Quality pork fillet rice bowl
・とんかつ pork cutlet
・カツカレー（限定）Curry rice topped with pork cutlet
The total set: pork cutlet, rice, miso soup, pickles, tea. - image © Florentyna Leow
I went with the pork loin cutlet. Rosu, or pork loin, is a cut that’s on the fattier side compared to fillet, which usually means it will be pretty moist, even if not cooked perfectly. The panko breadcrumb coating here was a little oily, but crispy all the same, and delicious washed down with miso soup and tea between. Rice portions aren’t too ginormous here, which I like as I usually find that they can be too big at most restaurants. If you’d like extra rice or miso soup, it’s an additional JPY160. Ask for “gohan okawari” or “miso shiru okawari."
There’s so much shredded cabbage that you might not be able to finish it. - image © Florentyna Leow
Another thing I love about tonkatsu places is the shredded cabbage they serve alongside, and here at Fukuyoshi it’s a veritable mountain of it! Plus, it’s shredded to a perfect thinness, so that it remains light and crunchy - too thick and it becomes difficult to eat. There’s also a small heap of creamy potato salad - delicious.
Tonkatsu with a little sauce dribbled on. - image © Florentyna Leow
Tonkatsu is typically served with tonkatsu sauce, which is a fruit, tangy, slightly viscous brown sauce. You’ll usually find this in porcelain pots on your table. It goes well with the deep-fried pork, cutting through the greasiness. Personally, I don’t love sauce and tend to dip my tonkatsu in a little soy sauce instead. Experiment and see what you like.
Photo: Fukuyoshi10.jpg Caption: This is not the kind of photo you should look at in the middle of the night.
Based on quality alone, Maisen, with their access to name-brand pork breeds and a tightly-run kitchen, has the edge. But Fukuyoshi has far more atmosphere, fewer queues, and is still reasonably priced to boot. It’s a great little neighborhood joint, and I would pick a tonkatsu lunch here any day over its more famous rival.
Name in Japanese:
4 -28-24 Jingūmae, Shibuya, Tokyo
Meijijingumae Station (Chiyoda Line)
:: Read customer reviews of Fukuyoshi on TripAdvisor
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