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Release | Daisuke Sato

How does katsudon that provides rice and tonkatsu separately look? Let’s try the signature katsudon from “Koganesoba,” a long-established soba restaurant in Muroran

Katsudon is usually a dish that provides a bowl of rice topped with a crunchy deep-fried pork cutlet and fluffy egg cooked with savory sauce.
I heard that there is a new wave katsudon style born in Muroran that totally changes the katsudon which we usually hold the bowl on the one hand and put it into our mouth directly. I visited the restaurant to discover the truth. 

 

The origin of “Kogane” was Hakodate

“Kogane” has been loved by locals from a long time ago and has branches in Muroran City, Noboribetsu City, and Tomakomai. 
Among multiple branches, I visited “Kogane Soba Wanishi branch” which the president of Soba Inc Shinji Hata, whose uncle is the founder of Kogane, owns. 


外観▲He turned the building where a hot shop owned by Kogane existed into a soba restaurant. 


Kogane was established in around 1959. 
The founder had a soba restaurant in Hakodate originally. He moved to Nakajima-Cho in Muroran City to open a new restaurant because, at that time, Muroran was experiencing substantial economic growth. 

Hata, too, lived in Hakodate at that time and he was a high school student. He helped his uncle whenever he had spare time and moved to Muroran with him. He decided to own a restaurant like his uncle did, together with his wife Masako who has a charming smile.


ご夫婦▲The Hata couple told each other that they didn’t expect to get married at first. 


However, soba noodle was not popular in Muroran at that time, and he had a hard time getting customers. Ramen shop in the neighborhood was much popular compared to his soba restaurant. 

So he also started offering ramen at Kogane, but it did not go well as much as restaurants specialized in ramen. 

I have to avoid customers disappointing at Kogane by the ramen that I am not good at!” He decided to take a distance from ramen for a while and work on delivery services. 
* The ramen they provide now has many fans and became a popular menu! 


メニュー札▲They offer various menu so that customers don’t get bored. 


Among their menu, rice bowl dishes including “katsudon (1,000 yen), the no.1 popular menu still today, became the most popular dishes. 

 

They provide rice separately although it’s a bowl dish! Let me unveil the secret! 

Katsudon, tendon, oyakodon… There are many kinds of rice bowl dishes. However, most people imagine rice bowl (don) dishes to be provided toppings and rice together in a bowl. 
However, katsudon from Kogane Soba Wanishi branch breaks the norm. 


提供直前のかつ丼▲The combination with his wife, who serves dishes to customers, is amazing. I can see they are together for a long time. 


Well, please see it in the picture. 


かつ丼全景▲I felt a nice scent and steam when I opened the lid. Wait, just the katsu? 


What do you think?
Wouldn’t you think that something is wrong after it is served in front of you when you order a katsudon? 

Yes, they provide katsu and rice separately

If you search on the internet, some people say that katsu is too big to fit in the rice bowl as the reason they provide toppings and rice separately. When I heard that, I thought that they could make the dish bigger and put two layers of katsu on the rice. 

The opportunity to discover the answer to my longtime question was now. 
According to Hata, it might be remains of the time when Kogane Soba was focused on delivery

What does it mean? 

The story goes like this: 

Katsudon from Kogane was originally an orthodox one that put toppings on rice in a bowl. Well, if you have ordered a rice bowl dish, you might understand. It takes a lot more time for a customer to actually have katsudon when they order delivery, comparing to when having it at a restaurant. 

As you can imagine, sauce soaks into the rice, and it becomes soft and sticky. This disappoints chefs who want customers to have freshly made dishes and customers who wish to have fresh rice before it’s soaked in sauce. 


店内▲They have four tables which are great for families with small children. 


Have you realized? 

Yes, they started providing toppings and rice separately because they wanted people to have delicious katsudon even when customers ordered it through delivery.
Also, Kogane provides much more sauce with katsu comparing to other restaurants. This is to answer requests from customers who like to have katsudon with plenty of sauce. Their hospitality turned into the style of dishes. 

Now I understand why they provide a spoon with katsudon. 


レンゲ汁▲Feel the happiness that you can put as much sauce as you want on rice. 


I feel like tangled strings became apart. 
I learned that everything has a reason. 

 

Let’s take a look at katsudon from Wanishi branch closely! 

All branches provide katsu and rice separately. However, the shape and material of the dish are different in each branch. Some of them offer it round ceramic bowl, and others provide it with an iron plate. 
Let’s take a look at katsudon provided at Wanishi branch! 

They use Hokkaido beef loin from the local butcher “Muroran Meat.” The size of a slice is 250 grams after cooked. The big amount of katsu is another reason people love it. 


揚げ中▲Hata fries katsu with a skillful technique. 


肉断面▲This greasy section makes me hungry without reasons. 


The base of the sauce is mackerel, bonito, frigate tune mixed dashi. 
He mixes this dashi with Kaeshi (the mixture of soy sauce, sugar, and mirin) which kept adding since the establishment. For rice bowl dishes, he also adds “Ama,” the sweet sauce and it’s done. 


つゆ▲The soup mixes umami flavor of three kinds of fish and deep-flavored Kaeshi with a long history. 


He puts a deep-fried slice of pork into a pan with sauce. The irresistible smell shakes my stomach when he pours some egg into the pan and cooks for a while. 


煮込む▲“I am becoming delicious.” I feel like katsu whispered to me! 


He put cooked katsu into a plate, oh, wait. What is it? 

ほのお▲The red fire makes my expectation rise more and more. 


This is the ceramic plate we often see at ryokans! I often hear “Japanese eat with sights.” I understand. This visual makes my expectation higher. 

By the way, only the Wanishi branch provide katsudon with this style. This style started with their hospitality to make customers enjoy warm katsu. Those who are not good at eating boiling food, don’t worry! They can put out the fire for you! 

“Kogane’s katsudon” make my mind and stomach satisfied from the flavor, amount of food, and hospitality of the owners. Try Kogane’s dishes for your lunch in Muroran! 


みそカツ丼▲They also have “Kara Miso (spicy miso) Katsudon (1,100 yen)” which is also good. * They also have Nagoya style “Miso Katsudon (1,100 yen) so don’t confuse. 


Kogane Wanishi branch’s homemade soup (320 yen), which you can use for soba noodles and rice bowl dishes, is also recommended for souvenirs! 


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  • How does katsudon that provides rice and tonkatsu separately look? Let’s try the signature katsudon from “Koganesoba,” a long-established soba restaurant in Muroran

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Daisuke Sato

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