We've all heard the expression, "do one thing and do it well". When it comes to restaurants, that may be the kiss of death if no one wants to eat that one thing. It can be further complicated by totally messing up the one thing they were supposed to specialize in (ie. don't have wonton in your restaurant name if they suck). The newest addition to the Vancouver food scene is Saboten, which does Tonkatsu (fried pork chop) and really doesn't deviate much from it. They have over 500 locations worldwide and the newest addition in Aberdeen is actually an "express" version. Originally, I was invited to the media event, but I couldn't make it. So I did the next best thing and visited the place a couple of days after on my own. Well, not really on my own because JuJu tagged along. On a side note, his nickname means "small pig" in Cantonese. Wouldn't this be cannibalism???
Located in the former Strawberry Cones stall, the place was busy. Looks like the curious were getting their tonkatsu fix. JuJu decided to try their Loin Katsu Don, which included a miso soup and tsukemono. For the price, we both agreed that the portion size was bordering on being expensive, but just barely. As for the tonkatsu itself, boy was it super moist. The darn thing was almost airy (if you can call a pork chop airy). There was a good amount of dashi, mirin, soy mixture which was leaning towards the sweeter side. It penetrated all the way into the rice which made the whole bowl flavourful. JuJu dusted it off pretty quick and was actually still hungry afterwards (not a stretch for him though). For myself, I knew better and got 2 items starting with the Tenderloin Katsu Curry. It also came with a miso soup and tsukemono, as well as shredded cabbage. I loved the light crispiness of the coating combined with the tender and airy meat. It was like eating something other than pork (in a good way). The curry was predictably mild and slightly sweet. I liked how it wasn't too sweet like some other Japanese curries. There was quite a bit of white onion which added another level of flavour.
Not satisfied with only one item, I also got the Tenderloin Katsu Sandwich. I knew I needed it since the orders being picked up didn't look particularly large. With the same fantastic cutlet as the previous 2 items sandwiched in between soft white bread, it was good. Loved the grainy mustard which added a distinguishing flavour. However, this was gobbled up quickly and honestly, I looked longingly at the other food stands in search for more food. That pretty much sums it up though. The tonkatsu is indeed fantastic, but there is just not enough of it. A heavier eater might need 2 meals just to get full.
- Fantastic crispy and light tonkatsu
- They do only one thing and do it right
- The stuff is too light... can't get full
- I wouldn't say it is necessarily expensive, but it ain't cheap either (for what you get)