KUROBUTA 黒福多 :
The UNIQUE BLACK TONKATSU of Kagoshima
It was during my previous holidays in Kyushu. After a relaxing two-days stop in Ibusuki, i decided to visit the lovely city of Kagoshima in search of what is supposed to be the best pork in Japan: The Kurobuta, also known as the Black pig. I have tried Kurobuta many times before, but never in Kagoshima (the holy saint land where you can find the best Kurobuta). What made this experience so special is that i had the opportunity to visit a restaurant serving a unique prepared in-house Black batter Tonkatsu made of KuroButa in a restaurant called Kurobuta. So basically in this article we will be reviewing a special Black Pork Tonkatsu mae of a Black Pork (KuroButa) in a restaurant called Black Pork (KuroButa), Are you still with me?
Before i tell you all about my Experience at Kurobuta eating a unique black tonkatsu, let me briefly talk to you about Kagoshima, a city often underrated when we talk about Kyushu.
Kagoshima is a city located in the southern part of the main Kyushu island in the eponymous Kagoshima prefecture. The city is ranked 23rd biggest city in Japan with approximately 600 000 inhabitants. Kagoshima is often referred to as a crossing point for side trips to place such as the famous Yakushima or Satsuma islands. In fact, if you are reading this article while in Kagoshima, there is a high chance that you are probably on your way to or from one of those islands.
I am a Tokyo person; I like the energy, the vibe, the never-ending lights, the rush, the smell, the heat, the dynamism and the continuous heartbeat of this Megalopolis. That being said, i love cities like Kagoshima where people are nicer and more relaxed. The rhythm in those cities is smoother, Kagoshima’s scenery is beautiful, and the air of southern Kyushu has something calming for the mind.
Kagoshima is a city famous for its emblem, the majestuous Sakurajima, an impressive Volcano still in activity and located in the bay of Kagoshima. The city is also famous for its food. There is a saying in Kagoshima: you come for nature and you stay for the Cuisine. Whether it is Flying fish, Sweet potato, Chicken Sashimi, Katsuo or the famous Black pork Kuro Buta your belly will thank you. Mine was in search of something special when i visited this city. To follow the footsteps of the emperor, ruler of the kingdom of Pork in Japan: King KuroButa from Kagoshima.
KUROBUTA: THE KING OF PORK IN JAPAN
Kurobuta is the name of the famous black pig raised in Kagoshima prefecture. It is often referred to as the King of Pork in Japan due to the taste and tenderness of its meat. Think of it as the wagyu of the Pig’s kingdom, the one bred in Kagoshima being the Kobe equivalent.
Let’s go back a few decades ago to understand where does this breed comes from and how it has been introduced from the lovely region of Berkshire to become one of the tastiest meat in Japan.
The Berkshire pigs from the eponymous county of Berkshire in the United Kingdom where introduced in Japan at the beginning of the 20th Century. In fact, the Berkshire pig has been produced for centuries in the United Kingdom. It is only around the 18th Century that the black variety of Berkshire’s pig known today as Kurobuta has appeared. This was done by cross-breeding the traditional reddish British pig to a Chinese breed. Not only the colour changed, but also the quality of the meat improved drastically.
It is during the Showa era, in the 1920s, that the black pig made his way through Japan. The importation started in Kyushu first, and it was then quickly introduced to the capital Tokyo where it became a huge success and synonym of high-quality pork.
In the 1950s, the KuroButa lost massive attractivity due to the production of really popular and cheap white pigs. It was a time of overconsumption and economic efficiencies. However, the dedication of producers who believed in their product and the emergence of a demand for high-end meat again saved the Kurobuta with a regain of interest in the 1970s.
Following that, with the creation of the Kagoshima KuroButa Producers Association in 1990, the black pig gained even more attraction. The passion of the producers to breed a meat of excellence brought it to a world class product. The KuroButa as we know it today has been registered as a trademark since 1999.
Nowadays, KuroButa is produced in several regions such as Okayama or Saitama. However, the one produced in the Kagoshima region is considered to be the most premium and tastiest of all.
Enough for the History lesson, now let’s talk about my experience at Kurobuta and their special Black Tonkatsu. The restaurant i have visited is named after the famous pork Kurobuta. You will find the place between Tenmonkan-dori and tenmonkan park. It’s one of the many area of foodies in Kagoshima with many good places such as the delicious Tontoro Tenmokan Ramen.
Kurobuta 黒福多 caught my attention because of their black tonkatsu made with Kurobuta. A unique speciality only available in this restaurant. I couldn’t miss this opportunity and i decided to pay them a visit during my stay in Kagoshima.
KUROBUTA RESTAURANT 黒福多:
A UNIQUE BLACK TONKATSU
Kurobuta is a 30 years old restaurant renowned for providing affordable yet delicious pork Tonkatsu made of Kagoshima’s black pig. They also serve other Japanese traditional dishes such as Shabu Shabu and Sukiyaki.
I visited the place for dinner. It was not crowded and we were seated immediately. The restaurant has a modest yet nice feel. You will be asked to leave your shoes at the door which makes the experience even more comfortable. Who doesn’t like to eat wearing only socks, just like at home?
I ordered a set menu of the Black Tonkatsu also called KuroKatsu for ¥2000 and an extra dish of deep-fried liver skewers also made from the black batter for a few hundred extra yens.
The black Tonkatsu batter is made from a secret preparation including bamboo charcoal and black sesame. As explained by the owner Takana Tsutomu, the black batter Tonkatsu is a complex technique to master. Because the batter is black, it is impossible to gauge during the cooking process the condition of the meat by the colour of the batter (from white to deep yellow for traditional Tonkatsu). It took Takana-san three years to master this preparation and present it on the menu. A good example of dedication and craftsmanship.
The skewers of deep-fried liver arrived first. I was hungry and went all-in. It was pretty decent. It was hot but not burning, just the right temperature when you can still feel the crispiness of the batter and juice from the deep fried cooking. The liver had a great taste in mouth and was not strong at all. It is an item i would definitely recommend in their menu.
Let’s now talk about the reason of my visit, the black Tonkatsu. The taste of the meat was good but nothing transcendental in comparison to other Kurobuta experience i had in the past. In fact, i am frustrated because the meat was a bit dry which would be unexpected for a meat renowned to be super tender. My answer is that the tonkatsu was probably overcooked. If you look at the meat you notice that it isn’t pink at the centre. Unfortunately for me, the cook probably left it to fry a few seconds too long…
Regarding the black batter itself, it adds a bit of fragrance in comparison to a traditional batter however it was nothing really uplifting. I believe it is more a visual prowess and a show off from the cook (unless it is overcooked…) more than anything else.
Meat aside, the set menu itself was pretty decent. Especially for two thousand yens including the Tonkatsu. They bring a lots of small dishes, Kaiseki style, including a miso soup (quite good), a bowl rice (of course), shredded cabbage, pickled lotus root, daikon, fruits and so on…
Service-wise, the staff was great, helpful, quick and friendly. As per the Japanese standard, we couldn’t ask for more! The ambience of the restaurant was also really cosy and relaxed.
I left the place full yet a bit frustrated. If the food was in overall good. Was it all Kagoshima had to offer for me? Thankfully for me, it wasn’t the case (but that’s for another story).
Overall: Should you visit this restaurant? The place is worth a try to tick off your list their unique Black batter Tonkatsu. It serves a good menu with a decent price for value. However taste-wise It is nothing exceptional. It is good, but i repeat nothing exceptional. And we are always striving for the exceptional right?
A place for foodie who want to fill their instagram with a unique and cool pic of a black Tonkatsu. Savvy eaters could find better places to eat the renowned KuroButa, king of Kagoshima.
Marketing 1 – LeCaptainFoodie 0.
“Decent food and price for value.
A must stop for your Instagram feed but not necessary for your Belly.
You have better alternatives around to try KuroButa.”
Price for value: 4/5
3-2, Sennichicho, Kagoshima,
Kagoshima Prefecture 892-0843, Japan
Opening Hours: Tuesday – Sunday: 11:30 – 14:30; 17:30 – 23:00