What are Katsu, Tonkatsu, Hire-Katsu, and Rosu-Katsu?
When it comes to the restaurant unique to Japan, you couldn’t find the same type of restaurants as “Tonkatsu-Ya (とんかつ屋)” in your country.
Tonkatsu-Ya is the Japanese restaurant that literally serves “Tonkatsu (豚カツ)” which is the Japanese-style pork cutlet whose meat is battered, breaded with panko breadcrumbs, and then deep-fried in plenty of lard or vegetable oil.
Tonkatsu-Ya usually offers “Hire-Katsu (ヒレカツ)” and “Rosu-Katsu (ロースカツ)” as signature dishes, and apart from these 3 “Katsu” dishes, actually, there is also a dish just called “Katsu (カツ)” in Japan.
The Difference: Katsu vs Tonkatsu vs Hire-Katsu vs Rosu-Katsu
But do you know how the 4 Japanese “Katsu” dishes, Katsu, Tonkatsu, Hire-Katsu, and Rosu-Katsu differ from one another? For people who don’t know much about them, today let me explain the difference.
Gyu-Katsu (牛カツ: Katsu made with a slice of beef)
First of all, “Katsu (カツ)” is the Japanese word for “cutlet” and usually refers to a slice of pork or beef or chicken that has been battered, breaded with panko, and deep-fried in plenty of lard or vegetable oil.
The Japanese cutlet Katsu is especially characterized by its crispy, brown deep-fried panko covering but the meat inside retains moisture and is tender.
“Tonkatsu (豚カツ)” is a Japanese-style pork cutlet, or the Katsu made with a slice of pork, as in its name “豚 (Ton)”, also pronounced as “Buta”, literally means hog or pig in Japanese.
Tonkatsu is the quintessential Japanese Katsu dish and when Japanese people just say “I want to eat Katsu” in daily life, in many cases the Katsu refers to Tonkatsu.
Image: Zennoh Fukushima
Hire-Katsu is a type of Tonkatsu. In its name, “Hire (ヒレ)” refers to the portion “fillet”, so Hire-Katsu is the Tonkatsu made with a slice of pork fillet or tenderloin.
Hire-Katsu is smooth, tender in texture, and is light in taste with low fat. It is also low in calories and known as the highest grade Tonkatsu.
As with Hire-Katsu, Rosu-Katsu is also a type of Tonkatsu. Since in its name, “Rosu (ロース)” is the Japanese word for the portion “loin”, Rosu-Katsu is the Tonkatsu made with a slice of pork loin.
Compared to Hire-Katsu, Rosu-Katsu has some fat and is characterized by its rich umami taste.