kruizing with kikukat

Monday, June 24, 2013

Restaurant Chatter: Restaurant Osaka

Restaurant Osaka, 762 Kanoelehua Avenue, (808)961-6699
If you ask the Ds where they'd like to go out to dinner, 9 out of 10 times, they will answer emphatically, "Restaurant Osaka!"  Restaurant Osaka opened in the mid 80s and originally served Japanese and local food.  I vividly remember when it opened because the owner was the brother of my then-boyfriend.  I missed the grand opening because I was away at college, but as soon as I came home for the summer, my ex-boyfriend's family hosted a dinner there.

The katsudon (tonkatsu or chicken katsu donburi) has been on the menu since the restaurant opened.  When I cannot decide what to order, I usually fall back on the katsudon. 

I cannot explain why the Ds cannot get enough of Restaurant Osaka.  We go there mutliple times a month, and I'm sure they Ds also go there with Mr. Dependable.  The nice ladies stopped giving the Ds menus years ago because they always order the same thing:  tempura udon with the tempura on the side (D1) and plain udon (D2).  I thought Betty was going to faint once when D1 ordered something else!

tempura on the side
tonk combo
Sometime around a decade ago, Restaurant Osaka changed ownership.  The new owner's wife, who is Korean, added Korean food to the menu.

The "tonk combo" is a popular selection.  It comes with teriyaki chicken, tonkatsu (or chicken katsu), fried mandoo, macaroni-potato salad, and rice.  I'm happy to report that there is not a speck of mustard in the salad.  They do give you a small dish of hot mustard (guessing its for the mandoo), but it is easily moved off the plate and across the table.

stir fried spicy ika (squid/calamari)
bi bim bap
I think Restaurant Osaka makes best bi bim bap in Hilo.  They also serve it in the heated ceramic bowl for a few dollars more.

Although I often cringe when the Ds suggest Restaurant Osaka for dinner, I will be the first to admit that Restaurant Osaka does an excellent job of frying their katsu.  It bothers me when I go out to eat and find that restaurants don't fry their katsu well.  Frying is something that many people do, but many people do not do it well.  Confounding!

Here are some tips for katsu making:
  • One mistake many people make from the get-go is not preparing the meat properly.  In order for katsu to fry evenly, the meat needs to be a uniform thickness, and it cannot be too thick.  A meat mallet is essential for making katsu.  Pound pork or chicken between pieces of saran wrap to make the job neater.  
  • Place flour, eggs, and panko in wide, shallow dishes to make the breading process easier.  Some people talk about using 1 had to work with wet ingredients and the other hand to work with wet ingredients.  I've had some success in doing this, but after a while, things get yucky anyway.
breading set up
  • Bread everything first, then fry. 
  • Its not necessary to deep fry katsu.  Oil at a depth of 1/2" in a wide skillet is ample for frying katsu.  
  • Use kitchen shears to cut katsu into strips.  A dull knife tends to remove the breading.
  • Buy good sauce:  Bulldog and Ikari are good brands.  If it looks like ketchup, it probably tastes like ketchup too.
  • The same breading technique can be used for shrimp, calamari, mushrooms, etc.  If using shrimp or calamari, blot excess moisture with a paper towel before flouring.
click on recipe title for printable recipe

     pork cutlets or chicken breast, pounded to 1/4" thickness
     salt & pepper
     eggs, beaten
     oil for frying

Sprinkle pork or chicken with salt and pepper.  Dust with flour, shaking off excess flour.  Dip both sides of floured meat in beaten eggs.  Immediately coat with panko.  Heat 1/2" oil in a skillet.  Fry katsu until golden brown on one side.  Turn over and fry other side.  Drain on paper towels.  Slice into strips and serve on a bed of shredded cabbage with tonkatsu sauce on the side.

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