Tonkatsu Keita, the hidden gem of Nishi Ogikubo
One of my favorite food is Tonkatsu. I travelled more than 10,000 miles searching for my dream Tonkatsu and ate lots of Tonkatsu. My dream is to savor the most delicious tonkatsu in the world so I’d like to share my Tonkatsu journey with all readers. As I thought Maruyama kippei is one of the best Tonkatsu, I have stumble upon a hidden gem in Nishi Ogikubo. One of my Japanese friends, who’s a singer and invited me to hear her performance in Tokyo, live in Ogikubo.
Let me share this hidden Tonkatsu gem with Tokyo Table Trip readers. What got me excited about this Tonkatsu place is how delicious its Tonkasu is and visiting Keita is less of a nightmare comparing to super popular Tonkatsu places where one would wait for hours to get into the restaurants. Keita’s staff is super friendly and I heard one of them spoke English very well.
Tonkatsu Keita is run by Chef Keita Aoki, who was born in Kagoshima. Chef Aoki has his dream to run the world’s best tonkatsu. Chef Aoki’s family got a pig farm so he procured his pork from his parents’ farm. His pigs grow up eating a lot of sweet potatoes which resulted in strong sweetness and umami taste of its firm meat. The breed is Kagoshima Roppaku kurobuta pork. (Does this mean six white black pork of Kagoshima?)
Chef Aoki looks quite young but he’s incredibly focused on his cooking. This young chef is rather meek and not chit chat type.
At this point, our readers might be curious to know: Maruyama kippei vs Tonkatsu Keita: which reigns supreme in Tokyo? My answer is they are different so it depends on what you’re looking for. Maruyama kippei uses high heat so the crust is dark brown. At Tonkatsu Keita, the pork is fried slowly at a low temperature using low sugar breadcrumbs, resulting in soft, golden brown Tonkatsu. At Maruyama kippei, I prefer Rib Rosu which is juicier and fattier. At Keita, I prefer Special filet which is super thick. The meat is still pink and succulent. It’s incredibly tender. So my verdict is if you like Rib Rosuk which is full of flavor, Maruyama kippei is where you should visit. But if you prefer less fatty and super tender, I highly recommend Tonkatsu Keita.
Lunch menu consists of Loin set 2,450 yen incl. tax, top loin set, 2,860 yen, Filet 2,750 yen, top Filet set 2,970 yen, and special filet set 3,410 yen. You can also order top up on a la carte.
Now the best part of dining experience at Tonkatsu Keita. This restaurant needs advance booking only. So you need to book ahead about a month before visiting date. Keita closes every Thursday and Monday. Booking is simple by adding & booking via Tonkatsu Keita’s Line which could be found on its Instagram. If you plan ahead, you can book early and enjoy the ease of mind not having to queue for hours like other top tonkatsu places. As Keita is relatively not impossible to book and can be booked conveniently through mobile phone via LINE, I hope we can all keep it that way by being good customers if we plan to visit them. A no show is a big blow to any small restaurants.
Lastly, I like to mention that Ogikubo isn’t far from Ghibli Museum in Mikata but you really have to book way ahead. Any Ghibli fans should visit as I’m not sure if they will still be open long after finding successors to Hayao Miyazaki. Near Ghibli museum, there are also squirrel trail and Porcupine house in Inokashira Park Zoo. It would be a nice walk to burn all the calories after a delicious Tonkatsu meal.
Local taste had taken a long journey searching for delicious meals long before the dawn of social media, roaming from one city to another from the Far East to the west, over 160 cities in four continents and more than 400,000 miles during the last 37 years.
His dining spots over thousands of restaurants range from eating in a hole in the wall in Asia to all ten Michelin 3-star restaurants in Paris. More than decades was spent on chasing for perfect xiao long bao.
Because he is not in food business nor food writer, his article won’t be found elsewhere but exclusively on tokyotabletrip.com as a tribute to Leo Saito’s altruistic deed to help international visitors discover the beauty of Japanese cuisine.
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