KITARO (EDIT closed a/o 6/2012)
(Japanese Meal sets Monopolized Shop)
website: kitaro.com.tw Chinese only
hours: 11 AM - 9:30 PM
Kid friendliness: booths and tables. no high chairs. kids menu available- though only chicken nuggets and fries set with pudding/drink.
Visit reviewed: 2/11/2008 & 3/25/2006
When I looked at the menu on my first visit, I wanted to order the ramen. But on that day, they were "out." So I ended up getting the Deep Fried Pork Curry Rice set (NT$178) which comes with a choice of drink and dessert. Served hot, perfectly crispy and not greasy or dry- the tonkatsu looked and tasted good, served on a bed of shredded cabbage and bowl of rice.
When I ended up going back another day jonesing for ramen, I was quite disappointed. While the tonkatsu was a great bargain and taste for the price, the Shinso Miso Broth ramen (NT$188) was ordinary, even disappointing. The miso broth didn't have the slurp me down flavor and the chashu (slices of pork) was forgettable. I don't know if the Hakata Porkbone broth or the Wakayama Soysauce Porkbone broth would be any better.
The menu is in English and Chinese with plenty of pictures and nothing is over NT$228- and that price includes a choice of drink (Tang-like OJ, tea or coffee), and dessert (chocolate chip ice cream or japanese mochi). This is probably why on my second visit the restaurant quickly filled up during lunch, with groups of students dressed in uniforms, sitting alongside with the business crowd.
The ice cream tastes similar to Movenpick's slivers of chocolate chips rather than chunky, which is a good thing.
They also offer a kid's set menu (NT$148) which includes a drink and pudding dessert, though it's disappointing that it's frozen chicken nuggets alongside fries and a onigiri (or rice triangle) without an option for kid's size tonkatsu like my favorite Taipei tonkatsu place, Saboten. Although for the difference of NT$20, you could just order the adult set of the Japanese Deep-Fried Pork (NT$168).
I think the tonkatsu may be their specialty, but they offer a wide array of choies including ramen, sukiyaki, roast eel unagi bowls and roast mackarel, teriyaki chicken bowl, deep fried chicken leg and rice bowls (oyako-don and katsu-don).
There's a lot of tonkatsu/Japanese places around Taipei, even in the food courts, but I've tried many that were just so-so... too dry, not hot enough, not crispy enough, not flavorful enough... so this was a good find in a modern, clean, bright setting. It can be a bit hard to find, tucked in a small alley. The address states an alley off of Da An Road, but if you are taking the MRT/taxi/walking, it's in the alley adjacent/behind Dun Nan Sogo (right past Lao Yo Ji if you know where that is).
No. 54, Lane 346, Kuangfu South Road
(171 Yanji Street, adjacent rear lane)
various locations in Taichung