That crunch factor when you load up a forkful of panko-crumbed meat with a soft chunk of steamed rice and thick fragrant sauce? Yeah. That’s what we’re talking about. Without further ado, here’s where to go for Melbourne’s best katsu curries, with a vegetarian option or two thrown in for good measure.
This slim little eatery is quite a hotspot at night so expect a short wait before being seated. However, the chicken katsu will arrive on your table at lightning speed and satisfy all of your fried chicken cravings. Rich, dark and silky, the sauce demands some sort of sweet foil to its flavour which you’ll find in Samurai’s signature green tea milkshake.
Gypsy & Pig
Tucked away on Little Lonsdale Street, Gypsy & Pig does two types of katsu curry, one of which uses kurobuta loin, the most highly prized pork in Japan. The other uses deep-fried crumbed free-range chicken, so, either way, you’re getting premium meat. Available for lunch or dinner, we recommend getting a deep-fried crumbed Scotch egg as an appetiser and some green tea cheesecake to share.
WAYO Japanese Dining
Small but cheerful, this Flemington gem is a great destination for casual Japanese dining. It’s been around for about two years and has a short, authentic lunch and dinner menu. The chicken katsu is panko-crumbed and there’s also a beef menchi katsu on offer: that’s minced beef cutlet coated with panko breadcrumbs. Both will only set you back $13. Yum!
KUU Café and Japanese Kitchen
As well as a killer Japanese-fusion brunch menu, KUU offers four wonderful spins on the katsu curry that we felt obliged to share in this article. Three are rendered in sandwich form – on offer is tofu katsu, chicken katsu, and a prawn katsu sanga. All three proteins are crumbed and fried before being slapped between two slabs of bread with plenty of shredded cabbage, Japanese BBQ sauce, hot mustard and Kewpie mayo. Then there’s the pièce de résistance: a prawn katsu burger and chips with seaweed sprinkles. Sensational.
Straddling the divide between Chinatown and the Greek precinct of Melbourne’s CBD, Izakaya Chuji has over 100 different dishes to choose from – but don’t get sidelined if you’re on a quest for the perfect katsu curry. Chow into their traditional beef curry on pork schnitzel with rice or go the less established route with a katsu don jellified with onion and egg.
Yong Green FoodFitzroy
Even people who don’t like tofu tend to be right into it when it’s fried, and the tofu katsu curry at Yong’s is a real crowd-pleaser. Drenched in curry sauce and served with a generous mound of brown rice, the fried tofu patty is made from shiitake and seaweed then battered with organic quinoa. It’s a great vegan-friendly rendition of the katsu curry that comes complete with a heap of coleslaw and pickles.
The team here will have your chicken katsu curry in your hands almost faster than you can order it. Will it be the most authentic and lovingly slow-cooked meal you ever eat? No. But will it deliver a solid slab of crumbed deep-fried chicken atop a mass of snowy white rice and offer a great alternative if Don Dons is too busy? Yes. Get into it.
Photo Credit: Rice Workshop via Facebook