Grand Openings & Cutlet @ Saboten Japanese Cutlet

The day before Chinese New Years, I had the pleasure of attending the grand opening of Saboten, a stall in the Aberdeen food court specializing in pork cutlet, or tonkatsu 豚カツ (not to be confused with tonkotsu 豚骨, which is pork bone soup).  Saboten is a popular franchise in Asia, with locations in Japan, Korea, Hong Kong and more. It's a bit unfortunate that it's not a restaurant here, but I guess better than nothing.

I got to meet Eating in Vancouver and had eatingwithkirby and Krispymilk to join me since we all live in Richmond and didn't mind fried pork cutlet for breakfast.

The executive chef talked to us a bit about Saboten, such as how the Canadian pork is sourced, as well as his the cabbage has to be California cabbage. I found it interesting that the panko bread crumbs were made daily from fresh bread -- bread that couldn't have to many sugars, since that would make the crust brown too fast and burn. I don't know; I never think about these details, especially about sourcing materials, until someone blatantly points it out.

Anyway, this really was a full on breakfast. We got to try all three if their offerings in their Saboten set ($8.95) the loin, the prawn, and the tenderloin cutlets.  It also included the cabbage I was talking about earlier.

The loin, which was the bigger of the two pork cutlets, was a fattier cut of meat.  Although in terms of tenderness, this one would not fair as well, but I felt the loin and tenderloin pieces I had were pretty comparable.  Actually, everyone else's (except krispymilk) did say they had significantly tougher pieces of loin compared to tenderloin.  It might have just been that we got the end of the loin that was softer.  Panko-wise, it was better than most restaurants here -- not soggy at all and not overdone.

The prawn was actually really pleasant since the meat was quite crisp and not mushy.  It wasn't that heavily breaded either, so it was quite big and not just covered in a lot of panko.  The tenderloin on the right was about two-thirds the size of the loin and did not have sections of fat in it.  Still, it was tender, but firm.

We also got a whole bunch of sauces: the yuzu sauce for the cabbage, tartar sauce, fresh ground black sesame, tonkatsu sauce, and curry sauce.  All of them were pretty standard, except I was quite intrigued by the yuzu sauce -- there was a slight tartness and a bit of sweetness from the citrus based sauce.  The ground black sesame was also very soft.  I was a bit sad we didn't get to grind our own, but that would never make sense logistically at a food court.

Overall, it was a good experience -- food is solid, but I'm more of a beef person than pork person, so I didn't find it mind-blowingly amazing.  Also, I had super good tonkatsu with fancy cuts of pork in Tokyo (also at a specialty shop), so I guess my standards are kind of up there.

More: Good Eat - Yum

Saboten (Aberdeen Centre Food Court)
4151 Hazelbridge Way
Richmond, BC
(604) 295-9351
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Was it cabbage or lettuce? Honestly I think I remember him saying lettuce, but I did a bit of research online and the Saboten site says it's cabbage! (And I found out California cabbage is "famous" for being high quality.) Hmm...

@krispy: I do recall them saying lettuce too... but I still can't find whether it is cabbage or lettuce on their site. But I googled and it seems that California cabbage is more of a thing than lettuce, so I changed it to that! Thanks!

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