Thursday, October 10, 2013

Kimukatsu (Culver City, CA)

Kimukatsu Restaurant
4130 Sepulveda Blvd, Culver City, CA 90230
Thu 10/10/2013, 6:30p-08:10p

The first real dinner following my recent marathon trip to DC was here at Kimukatsu, an outpost of a well-known Japanese tonkatsu chain that debuted in September. The company operates multiple locations in Japan, Seoul, and even Honolulu (including a takeaway stall called Kimukatsutei), but this is their first mainland US location; a sister restaurant is supposed to open on Sawtelle in the coming weeks. What sets them apart is the way that they construct their cutlets. Instead of using the typical whole pork loin or filet, the meat is sliced thin and stacked 25 layers high, then coated in the usual panko and fried, resulting in a very different eating experience.

Kimukatsu Menu Kimukatsu Special Menu Kimukatsu Value Combo Menu Kimukatsu Rice Menu
Kimukatsu Side Dish Menu Kimukatsu Side Dish Menu Kimukatsu Dessert Menu Kimukatsu Drink Menu
Above, we see Kimukatsu's current menu, which features six variations of the signature pork cutlet, as well as numerous sides and accompaniments. The drink selection is a bit disappointing at the moment, but the owners are indeed working on acquiring a beer and wine license and will eventually be offering up sake-based cocktails. Click for larger versions.

Kimura Ramune
The Kimura Ramune [$4] was clearly the most interesting of the beverages being offered, its soft, refreshing, vaguely-citrusy flavors serving as a good match to the meat-heavy courses to follow.

Potato Salad
Potato Salad [$6.50] | Classic Japanese style potato salad with sausage
I'm a sucker for potato salad, and Kimukatsu's certainly fit the bill. I found it lush, creamy, somewhat thin, with the sausage adding a definite heft to the dish. My favorite part, though, was the use of the crunchy, super savory bits on top (bacon?).

Tatsuta Age
Tatsuta Age [$6.50] | Japanese Style Fried Chicken
Fried chicken was a must-try, natch. Compared to the more common kara-age, the tatsuta-age here emphasizes the use of a shoyu-based marinade, and also utilizes potato starch in place of wheat flour. The end result is a thoroughly juicy, tender bird, with a more substantial depth of flavor than one typically finds. Very nice.

Agedashi Tofu
Agedashi Tofu [$5.50] | Deep Fried Tofu with Sweet Sauce
I was curious about Kimukatsu's age dofu as well. Taste-wise, it was on point, with the delicate flavors of the tofu melding well with the classic, comforting nuances of its accompanying tentsuyu broth. Texturally, though, I wanted it to be crisper to the bite, instead of the sort of gooey, mucilaginous consistency it demonstrated.

Ground Kobe Beef Katsu
Ground Kobe Beef Katsu [$5.00] | Fried 100% Kobe Beef
A menchi-katsu of "Kobe" beef was delicious: juicy and hot, just brimming with bovine flavors dutifully tempered by the subtle astringency of what I believe was scallion.

Fried Prawn
Fried Prawn [$7.00]
Sticking with the fried theme, the ebi furai was also a winner, the shrimp coming out particularly tender, with a delicate brine that worked out well with a blast of lemon and a dab of the included tartar-like condiment (which I believe was the same used in the nanban below).

Rice Set
Rice Set [$4.50] | Rice, Miso Soup and Japanese Pickles
At this point, we were done with the appetizers and ready for tonkatsu. Accoutrements consisted of white rice, a classic miso soup, shredded cabbage, and some crunchy, tart tsukemono pickles.

Value Combo
The cutlets, of course, can be purchased separately, but we went for the Value Combo of three for $39 (a $6 savings).

Original [$15.00]
Naturally, we had to give Kimukatsu's Original a shot given that it was our first time here. It was quite unlike any other tonkatsu I've had. The meat was uncommonly light, almost fluffy, with a subtle, yet very porky savor and a juicy, yet somehow dry consistency to it. The batter was appropriately airy as well, giving the cutlet a surprising verve that I appreciated. I can definitely see the appeal here.

Nanban [$18.00] | Flavor with a Sweet Ponzu Soy Sauce with Tartar Sauce
To the standard cutlet above, the Nanban variation offered up a tart 'n' tangy tartar sauce. It was a creamy, fairly substantial addition that definitely imparted a more aggressive flavor profile to the meat.

Garlic [$15.00]
Last up was the Garlic incarnation, which was like the standard cutlet, but with a very subtle undercurrent of garlicky goodness.

Shingen Ice
Shingen Ice [$5.50] | Vanilla ice cream Topped with Sweetened Soy Bean Powder and Brown Sugar Cane syrup
Dessert included a bowl of vanilla aisukurimu, doused with mitsu syrup and a sprinkle of kinako roasted soy flour. Taken together, it was all rather pleasing, the sweetness of the particularly thick ice cream augmented by the sugary syrup, all while the soy powder added a nutty, tempering counterpoint to the dish.

Black Sesame Pudding with Whipped Cream
Black Sesame Pudding with Whipped Cream [$5.50]
Here, the pudding itself had a light, liquid-y consistency to it that I'm not sure I liked. Its taste, meanwhile, I found very delicate, so that dollop of inky black sesame was key in providing assertiveness to the dessert.

I walked away from Kimukatsu pretty satisfied. Their signature pork cutlet was impressive, one of the stronger preparations I've had I'm sure, and the rest of the menu delivered as well for the most part. The place does need a liquor license, pronto, and another thing that I'd like to see is some sort of curry-based katsu kare variant on the menu (a lunch-only option at the moment from what I understand). Otherwise, things seem to be coming along quite nicely here.


Anonymous Andy Gavin said...

That is a whole lot of fry :-) Do they have the hoison sauce and cabbage? I went many times in Japan to "special fatty pork" tonkosu. There it, while the quality varies, the formula seemed invariant. I do like the contrast of the heavy fry with the pungent sauce.

Have you tried Tsujita for its Char Sui Tsukemen with the 120 cooked pork pig broth? Excellent stuff. I find myself craving it between visits.

Sunday, October 13, 2013 7:22:00 AM  
Blogger Charlie Fu said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Monday, October 14, 2013 2:17:00 PM  
Blogger Johnny L. said...

Unfortunately I found their tonkatsu Disappointing but everything else about the meal was great. The breading technique was good, the sauces were good, the rice and pickles were good but the meat itself was dry due to the fact that it was thin layers of pork that were impossible to keep moist. I personally prefer normal tonkatsu that comes as one slice and juicier if done right.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013 4:24:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Andy: Yeah, I think this was probably the most fried food I'd had in a while, which may explain why I was feeling particularly full. In any case, there wasn't any hoisin; are you referring to the Worcestershire-esque tonkatsu sauce? It was a nice, piquant pairing with the pork. Meanwhile, the cabbage came with the rice set (you can see a big bowl of it in the background). But no, I've not been to Tsujita; I'm actually not that huge on ramen, and definitely don't seek it out like some people.

Charlie: Why the deleted comment? It seems the prices here aren't all that far off from the Hawaii one. Your basic tonkatsu with rice set is $19, so I imagine a curried version would be close to $25 as well.

Johnny: Interesting. I found the meat appropriately juicy, but there was definitely a "dry" character to it as well, which is hard to explain. I do think the cutlets here are more tender than what you typically get.

Saturday, October 19, 2013 3:29:00 AM  
Anonymous Andy Gavin said...

Yeah, by hoison I meant the worchester type stuff. Not too different than the British HP (Houses of Parliament) sauce either, and in all cases good with fatty meat and fried stuff. I think they tend to have tamerind (or similar) and various spices and vinegars in them. These seem to have appeared in Europe in the 19th century in England via the availability of certain products from India (like the Tamerind, cheaper pepper, spices).

Saturday, October 19, 2013 1:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Andy Gavin said...

And even if you aren't that into ramen you should try the Tsukemen. The heavy pork broth is more like gravy and a different beast. It's really pork heaven.

Speaking of pork, tonight I have a Filipino pig roast wine BBQ to go to :-)

Saturday, October 19, 2013 1:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Andy Gavin said...

I just saw a Kimukatsu is coming to Sawtelle Blvd shortly, so I'll give it a try when i do.

Monday, October 21, 2013 4:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Xan7hos said...

@kevinEats how was the "a la minute" rice any different than normal rice? Was the wait timee long? It's difficult for me to imagine rice cooked to order and actually being worth the trouble. Also, definitely give Tsujita (not Annex) a shot especially their tsukemen. Literally sets the bar as to how amazing ramen can be...before I too wasn't a fan; my experiences were shaped by places such as Daikokuya, Aji-san, and Shinsengumi which I considered mediocre to decent and Tsujita definitely confirmed my suspicions. I've become a pretty big ramen fan since and to this day nothing has yet to come close to Tsujita's.

Monday, October 21, 2013 8:38:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Andy: Ok ok, if I ever decide to seek out ramen, the tsukumen at Tsujita will be it! Any word on whether the Sawtelle Kimukatsu's open yet?

Xan7hos: You know, I honestly couldn't tell the difference, and there wasn't any appreciable increase in wait times either. That being said, it was some solid rice. Appreciate the additional flavor on Tsujita, too!

Monday, October 28, 2013 2:26:00 AM  
Anonymous Andy Gavin said...

The Sawtelle Kimukatsu wasn't open today, from peering inside, I'd guess a couple weeks at least.

You should forget your anti-ramen bias and just try the tsukumen :-) I had it again today (often do on Mondays). It's just that good.

Monday, October 28, 2013 4:24:00 PM  

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