Demystifying Deep-Fried Delight: A Beginner’s Guide to Kushikatsu Restaurants in Japan


Deep-fried food might be a universal love language, but kushikatsu takes it to another level in Japan. These delightful skewers of skewered and deep-fried meat, vegetables, and even seafood offer a unique and interactive dining experience, especially at kushikatsu restaurants.

Whether you’re a seasoned foodie or a curious traveler, this guide provides a crash course on navigating the vibrant world of kushikatsu restaurants in Japan:

What is Kushikatsu?

“Kushi” means skewer and “katsu” refers to a deep-fried meat cutlet. So, kushikatsu translates to skewers of deep-fried goodness. These bite-sized delights come in a wide variety of options, from classic chicken and pork to adventurous choices like squid, cheese, and even vegetables like asparagus and okra.

The Kushikatsu Restaurant Experience:

1. Setting the Scene:

Kushikatsu restaurants are often casual and energetic, with a communal atmosphere encouraged by long counters or communal tables. This setting fosters interaction and creates a fun and lively dining experience.

2. Ordering Your Feast:

Typically, you’ll be provided with order sheets at the table. Mark down your desired kushikatsu varieties and any other small plates you’d like to try. Kushikatsu restaurants commonly offer a diverse selection of other izakaya favorites like edamame (soybeans), potato salad, and fried rice.

3. The Star of the Show:

Once you’ve placed your order, prepare to be dazzled by the variety and creativity of the kushikatsu options. Each skewer is typically coated in a light and crispy tempura batter before being deep-fried to golden perfection. Don’t be afraid to experiment and try different flavors!

4. Dipping Etiquette:

Each table will have a communal pot of Tonkatsu sauce, a savory and slightly sweet sauce traditionally used for dipping kushikatsu. Remember, double-dipping is considered bad etiquette. To avoid cross-contamination, use provided small plates to transfer individual portions of sauce for each skewer.

5. Enjoy & Pay:

Once your dining time limit ends (typically 30, 60, or 90 minutes), inform the staff and pay the set fee. This fee usually covers food only, and drinks are ordered and paid for separately.

Beyond the Basics:

  • Kushikatsu Etiquette: While not mandatory, some kushikatsu restaurants might have specific etiquette rules. It’s always polite to check with the staff if anything is unclear.
  • Pacing Yourself: With an endless supply of deliciousness, it’s easy to overindulge. Pace yourself and savor the flavors to avoid feeling overwhelmed.
  • Exploring Further: Many kushikatsu restaurants offer unique dipping sauces or regional variations on the classic dish. Don’t hesitate to ask your server for recommendations!

Finding Your Perfect Kushikatsu Spot:

Kushikatsu restaurants are widely available throughout Japan, especially in major cities. Look for establishments with inviting signage or ask locals for recommendations.

Embrace the Experience:

Kushikatsu restaurants offer a unique and interactive dining experience that goes beyond just the food. Embrace the lively atmosphere, engage with friends and fellow patrons, and most importantly, have fun exploring the delightful world of kushikatsu!

Bon Appétit (or should we say, “いただきます!” (Itadakimasu!))

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