Traditionally, a Japanese meal starts with a miso soup served on a table. Miso is made from fermented soybeans and grain. In Nagoya, one of its traditional dishes is Misokatsu, a deep fried pork cutlet with red miso sauce, usually served on a sizzling plate. This was one of the three Nagoyan dishes we looked for in Nagoya, Japan's 3rd largest metropolitan conurbation, located in the Chubu region. Nagoya is the capital of Aichi Prefecture.
Unfortunately, Misokatsu wasn't that easy to find despite being supposedly popular. This was why we made it our mission to get one as we were about to leave the city. From Nagoya Station, I headed to Fushimi Station and walked from there. After checking out the grounds of Shirakawa Park, Nagoya City Art Museum and the Science Museum, which I found underlit at night, I crossed the highway and started asking around.
A beautiful restaurant with inexpensive but delectable-looking dishes caught my attention at the street corner. I asked if they served Misokatsu. They didn't, but the owner patiently walked me to the next block, and gave instructions in English. Don't take too long, he said. The diner would close at 10. I was grateful for the help, then went my way.
The walk took about 40 minutes, until I finally reached a brightly lit shop with no English sign, except that a "happy pig" was prominently on display on its ceiling. I took a chance, snuck my head in, and asked, "Misokatsu"? The lady server nodded and invited me in. I reached my destination.
Misokatsu Yabaton is a specialty restaurant serving Misokatsu. It's located at the Yaba-cho Honten (Main Shop) in the Osu area.
There was a queue inside. If you were a solo diner, you'd have to wait for a seat at the bar, which was full when I arrived. If you were with a group, you will be ushered upstairs. Tables are not made available for solo diners. I stood at the other side of the room and waited with two other guys for what seemed like 20 minutes.. When my turn came, my food was ready within a minute.
I ordered Teppan Tonkatsu served over a fluffy bed of cabbage leaves. Serving was huge and the meat looked red; I could smell my dinner. It was savory and tender. I started to understand why the dish is a local favorite.
Misokatsu was supposedly concocted in 1947 and has since spread all over the city. It comes in a variety of preparations.
The diner offers Misokatsu using a gourmet pork meat called Kurobota, or heritage black pigs known for their intensely flavorful meat and fat. Outside Japan, they're called "black hog pigs" or Berkshire Pigs (as they were believed to have been originally grown in England). Kurobota is considered the "Wagyu Beef of Pork", high-end pork with the price tag to match. I considered ordering the Kurobota Misokatsu, but eventually decided against it. I wasn't really that hungry. I just wanted a taste of Misokatsu.
That's one special dish ticked off.
|I had to stand on queue and wait for 20 minutes while solo diners finish their respective meals.|
|Misokatsu Yabaton Yaba-cho (Main Shop)|
|I wanted to have my dinner here but they didn't serve Misokatsu. The owner went out of his way to direct me towards Misokatsu Yabaton.|
|Outside Nagoya City Science Museum|
|Nagoya City Art Museum|
|I had to cross this highway from Shirakawa Park to look for Misokatsu at 9 PM.|
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