Donkatsu is a deep-fried pork cutlet dish, which originated in Japan. However, it is now a common dish found throughout Korean restaurants also. In fact, many Korean restaurants have taken the primitive donkatsu to the next level by re-inventing their own sauces and adding various toppings/fillings.
If you know me, I am highly obsessed with any food that is fried. With that being said, donkatsu is definitely one of my biggest obsessions because pork itself is already good, but pork that is breaded then deep-fried is even better.
I’ve probably tried all–not exaggerating–the donkatsu sold in New York City. I just never get tired of them. From among the ones I’ve consumed, these three are ones that I would confidently recommend:
1. Hansol Nutrition Center
160-26 Northern Blvd. Flushing, NY 11358
This is probably the biggest donkatsu that you will ever find in New York. The side dishes may look simple, but that’s not a problem because Hansol serves you a variety of banchans before your main meal is brought out.
For its price ($12), this is definitely a bargain deal because donkatsu that are much tinier than this one usually costs anywhere from $13-16 in New York City.
The sauce is the best part: unlike the typical Japanese donkatsu sauce that taste more like steak sauce, Korean-style donkatsu sauce possesses a stronger ketchup taste. I prefer the ketchup-based sauce because it’s sweeter, and I think ketchup goes better with fried food than steak sauce does.
3912 Union St. Flushing, NY 11354
Kimgane is a “boonshik” restaurant. “Boonshik” is a collective name for any food that is cheap and can be easily afforded (in Korea, many “boonshik” restaurants are found near schools because most of their customers are students who cannot afford expensive meals).
However, most of the dishes sold at boonshik restaurants are not so low-priced anymore. For instance, the regular donkatsu shown in the photo (top right) is $14 and the sweet potato donkatsu (bottom left) is $13.
Sweet potato, is a popular ingredient in Asian countries because it is rich in fiber and good for diet (nowadays, many Korean women replace rice during their meals with sweet potatoes to lose weight). This delicious vegetable is incorporated into many food: there’s pizza with sweet potato-filled crusts, sweet potato cake and sweet potato salads.
Personally, I didn’t like the sweet potato cream on this donkatsu–the original is much better. I don’t despise all savory-sweet combo, but this one was just not the best match. However, I strongly recommend that you go for their original donkatsu.
209-11 Northern Blvd. Bayside, New York 11361
What amazes me about this place is that they somehow managed to survive for over a decade selling just ONE item on their menu–donkatsu. It was certainly a risk that the owners took, considering the fact that they have to compete against other eateries that offer donkatsu as well as a variety of other menus; but this business strategy worked out for Yedon because offering just one menu gives off the impression that they truly are the best at making donkatsu. And although I can’t say it’s my favorite of the three, Yedon donkasu certainly makes the Top 3.
First, the sauce is fascinating. It’s a bit more watered down than the one at Hansol but nonetheless, some people go just to figure out exactly what may go inside the sauce that makes it so good (I’ve tried but could not come up with the exact replica).
Another thing I love about Yedon are their sides. They used to also give sausages cut in the shape of a squid but got rid of them (I’m guessing because they were tired to making those squid shapes…). Before the donkatsu comes out, cream soups are served, which is honestly a bit bland.
The size of their donkatsu also diminished, which is quite a disappointment since their price inversely rose up. But once you try Yedon once, there is no way you can NOT go back.