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Butagumi Dining: Quality tonkatsu pork cutlets to eat and go

by Robbie Swinnerton

What’s not to like about the original Butagumi? Tokyo’s temple to high-end tonkatsu (deep-fried pork cutlets) really is the finest in town. Where else serves such beautiful cuts of premium pork — from hand-reared breeds of “heritage” pigs — and in such a classic setting?

There are only two negatives. The Nishi-Azabu location is quaint but it’s a long walk from the subway. And once you’re there, you want to savor the experience and not just order, eat and run. But you can do just that at Butagumi Dining.

This spin-off in the basement of the Roppongi Hills complex lies a few strides from the subway gates. Bright, cheerful and modern, it has a big open kitchen where you can watch the golden cutlets being deep-fried to crisp perfection. And it still has that Butagumi ethos of quality.

There is just one kind of premium pig on the menu, and that is only available at dinner. But even the “standard” pork is excellent, and from a traceable provenance. At night there are snacks and even wine to stretch out your dinner. But the bottom line is simple: The tonkatsu here is accessible, affordable and prompt.

B1F Roppongi Hills North Tower, 6−2−31 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo; 03-3408-6751; www.butagumi.com/shokudo; open daily 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m. (LO); nearest station Roppongi; no smoking; lunch from ¥1,000 per head (plus drinks); dinner around ¥3,000; major cards OK; Japanese menu; little English spoken.