Monday, August 31, 2009
japanese/tonkatsu: i strongly recommend ANZU
No. 63, Nanjing E Road, Sec 2
website: anzu.com.tw Chinese only
hours: 11am to 2:30pm, 5pm to 9pm; weekends 11am to 9:30pm
Kid friendliness: high chairs and kids dinnerware available
Visit reviewed: 6/12/2009 and 7/4/2009
Ever since discovering Saboten a few years back, all the tonkatsu places I've eaten at have paled in comparison. Anzu is the first one to give it some competition. I liked it so much that I took my grandma and sister there to lunch a few weeks after my first visit.
Anzu offers an array of variations of the tonkatsu (or fried pork cutlet) as well as a few side dishes and desserts. If you've never had tonkatsu, think of it as the japanese cousin to Country Fried Steak, but instead of being breaded and fried in breadcrumbs, it's breaded in panko or japanese breadcrumbs and instead of being topped with gravy, you have a sweet and salty tonkatsu sauce, similar to a Japanese Worcestershire sauce.
The space is open and modern, with lots of booth seating as well as a long shared table seating in the center.
The menu is in Chinese and Japanese with photos, but they have an English menu upon request.
The funny thing is that the English menu only has prices with Chinese characters- but mostly everything is in the NT$200-300 range. (And the characters for 1-3 are easy to spot with 1, 2 or 3 horizontal lines).
I think the English menu is still a bit confusing though- with dish names like "Big bowl of deep fried pork loin set" or "Anzu signature specially meal" which don't provide any English descriptions. You can also save a few bucks by order a bento from their to-go only menu (NT$180-250). Their katsu sandwiches are available only to-go. I've always thought about getting one to go, but I'm usually too full after eating.
Like Saboten, they give you whole sesame seeds in a ridged bowl and a chubby wooden stick to grind them up by yourself- a Japanese style mortar and pestle, as well the bottles of help yourself tonkatsu sauce and dressings and all you can eat shredded cabbage.
You can choose the plain pork loin tonkatsu (as I usually do), or with curry, tea, mushroom soup, grapefruit and grated radish, fried shrimp or croquettes, or even mixed in with eggs in a katsudon. The sets also come with all you can eat miso soup (their soups change every so often) and rice (choice of white or purple). For an additional fee, you can add a drink and dessert to your set.
There is the "pork loin" and the "pork fillet"- I feel like the pork loin or "li ji" in Chinese is juicier. The tonkatsu is quite large (noticeably larger than Saboten or other tonkatsu places I've been to), as well as a bit fattier. But just as crispy and just as mouthwatering.
I usually don't eat the fat and end up with chunks of fat leftover on my plate. You could always try the pork loin to get a leaner cut. But it won't be as juicy!
If you want to try something different, you can get the radish/grapefruit pork loin set to cut the grease of the crispy fried skin. They give you half a grapefruit to squeeze over the grated radish and it provides a citrus touch to the heaviness.
Out of the appetizers/side dishes, the one I liked best was the chawamushi or steamed egg. You have to resist to slurp up the creamy, pudding like consistency.
I wasn't as enamored with the stewed beef and vegetables and fried chicken. I wished the beef and vegetables were more fork tender. The portions are small, but the prices are around NT$100.
All in all, Anzu is a great place to grab lunch or dinner with the family or friends. It's suitable for large groups and has a lot of choices if you don't mind eating something fried or meaty.
When you go to the Nanjing location, make sure you find the right entrance. There is another Japanese restaurant on the corner that might be confusing.
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No. 2, Lane 271, Fuxing S Road, Sec 2