If you are craving an authentic tonkatsu sandwich in Japan, make your way to Ginza Bairin 銀座梅林 to try Tokyo’s first tonkatsu specialty store. Tonkatsu sandwiches, nicknamed katsu-sando, are fluffy sandwiches stuffed with a juicy cut of fried pork. Different stores drizzle different sauces in the sandwich and at Ginza Bairin, the sauce has a subtle sweetness to it with hints of a tart mustard.
Simple is best
My friend Maggie & I were shopping in Ginza one day when we decided to grab a light lunch. Having tried Maisen in Omotesando and Tonki in Meguro (both great tonkatsu stores!), we were suddenly craving… a tonktasu sandwich.
Founded in 1927, Ginza Bairin is a classic among Japanese locals. The lunch sets are great value for money and the storefront, despite being in the heart of Ginza, is casual and welcoming. We dined with a lot of locals there on their lunch breaks and enjoyed the light chatter around us.
I’m a bit picky with my katsu-sando and find that they are often over-powered by their sweet sauces. But at Bairin, the katsu was a tender cut of kurobuta and only lightly brushed with tonkatsu sauce. Topped with a nice tartness to it from the mustard, Bairin’s katsu-sando was so simple yet satisfying.
Relocation until 2021
Note that the original Bairin Honten is closed for building reconstruction until Spring of 2021. Until then, the store is relocated to a new location close by. Fortunately, the once massive crowds have yet to find their way there! Lines are not long during weekday lunch time (~20 minutes). Service is still quick and efficient, with plenty of English menus to share.
So next time you’re in Ginza, definitely swing by for a katsu-sando at Bairin before doing some shopping. There may be better tonkatsu in town but Bairin’s katsu-sando is a classic. Simple, no-frills, and delicious.
Address // 東京都中央区銀座7-7-10 (Ginza Station Exit A2, then 3 minutes walk from there)
Tel // 03-3571-0350
Website // http://ginzabairin.com/en/
*Ginza Bairin is cash only