While tonkatsu, or pork cutlet, is ubiquitous around the Kanto region, gyukatsu, or beef cutlet, is a lot more difficult to find. The same could be said about Ikebukuro’s new restaurant specializing in the cuisine, Gyukatsu Iroha.
As of this writing, they have no website, no public phone number, and news of the restaurant is spreading largely by word of mouth. Yet they have garnered lots of attention on Japanese food review sites since opening in November 2014—and for good reason.
Their standard gyukatsu set comes with a crispy beef cutlet served rare, cabbage, fluffy barley rice, a rich miso soup, potato salad, and pickles—all for ¥1,100. If rare isn’t your thing, each person gets a heated iron plate for cooking the meat on to your liking. But be careful to not let it burn! The cutlet is juicy, flavorful, and goes great with the sauce and wasabi. The second helping of rice is free, and there are complimentary refills on tea—though all other drink options are alcoholic.
Gyukatsu Iroha is located on the B1 floor of the Tomomitsu Building, just past McDonald’s and next to a ramen shop. Be prepared for a wait: The place is popular and small—only 18 seats, including a bar and a couple of tables. However, the line moves quickly as people tend not to stick around after the meal.
The restaurant is 100-percent Japanese, with no English menu nor English-speaking staff. Even the prices are written in kanji. The menu is very simple, however, so don’t let that dissuade you. Aside from the standard gyukatsu mugi-meshi (barley rice) set, there’s a set that includes tororo, or grated yam, for ¥1,300.
Each set can also be ordered with a smaller portion of gyukatsu for ¥200 yen less. That’s about all there is to the menu.
Although Gyukatsu Iroha is well off the radar for the English-speaking community, it’s worth visiting for the delicious, reasonably-priced beef cutlet, so rare in this part of Japan.
Note: The sign is in Japanese; look for “牛かつ いろは” in black, calligraphic text on plain white. Each visitor must buy one food item.
B1F Tomomitsu Building 1-9-7 Higashi-Ikebukuro, Toshima-ku. 11am-12am. Nearest station: Ikebukuro.