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Tonkatsu Wako and Xiao Wako
7/F & B1, Isetan, Block B, Lidu Plaza, 8 Dakejia Ln.
8666 2616
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Susan Johnson (more chengdu)
This downtown spot on the seventh floor of the Isetan department store offers a menu of Japanese tonkatsu, or crispy fried cuts of pork, as a specialty. The set meals are easy to pick out from the picture menu or from the molds displayed outside and the side dishes of very good rice, miso soup, tea, and cabbage salad are all bottomless. Condiments on the table include mustard, a pungent sweetish tonkatsu sauce similar to Worcester and sesame dressing for the salad. The menu offers are a few variations on the tontaksu theme with breaded chicken cutlets, ground meat patties, shrimp or a curry sauce over the pork, but the carefully edited menu focuses on doing a few things very well and has long been a favourite of the downtown crowd with a mix of dates, shoppers and business diners at the tables. The room is comfortable but formal enough not to feel out of place dressed up, and we have always had consistently efficient, respectful and attentive service.

Recently, Isetan has added a few smaller Japanese restaurants to their basement food floor. There is one restaurant offering curry sets, one shop offering takoyaki and a mini version of the popular Wako with an abbreviated, slightly less expensive menu and more of a cafe style atmosphere. The server told us the food was the same but the side dishes in the set meals are not bottomless. Customers can still ask for extra rice or salad, but there is a surcharge. We asked for their version of oyaku don, or chicken and egg over rice, which came in a small bowl sided with the famous shredded cabbage and a cup of soup. It was satisfying enough for a smaller appetite, but the pork cutlet sets that some of our neighbours were enjoying would probably better suit most. We noticed they added a local style spicy sauce as a condiment. We like how Xiao Wako is a bit easier on the wallet and more suited for the solo diner or work lunch, and we'd still head upstairs for a meal with friends in a bit nicer environment.

Tonkatsu Wako and Xiao Wako
Tonkatsu Wako and Xiao Wako