You know what dish should be more popular? Katsu. Think about it: Americans love fried anything, have gobbled up pork or chicken cutlets for generations, and happily combine the two, whether it’s in a pork schnitzel or fried chicken. Yet the Japanese take remains largely an expat obsession. Sure, you can regularly find katsu in OC, but it hasn’t experienced a hipster renaissance like, say, poke or Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, nor has it made it onto the menu at Norms or Souplantation for the bluehairs to try.
Maybe Mr. Katsu will change everything. It’s held strong for more than two years down the street from Cal State Fullerton, next to a sports bar and one door down from a laundromat. If its namesake ever crosses over, it’ll be because of how Mr. Katsu serves it: in sandwiches. And not in dainty, small rolls, but rather in big, buttered slices of John Wayne American sourdough, the better for the bread to soak up any and all drippings. It offers 11 such sandwiches, some more American (a grilled cheese is perfect to go whenever you visit Vendome across the parking lot for a night of debauchery), some more Japanese (katsu curry is like the tastiest bowling ball you’ll ever eat, all about heftiness and savoriness), and other flights of fancy—a bleu cheese Buffalo is as Japanese as Mt. Fuji and as roadhouse as a Peterbilt 379, yet is somehow delicate and intricate thanks to perfectly pickled cole slaw.
Since Mr. Katsu primarily serves a college crowd (the soundtrack seems to be the Strokes Radio on Pandora), there are also Korean barbecue bowls and fries, and mochi for dessert (along with a free High Five—how precious!) But Mr. Katsu does best on its sandwiches, and it should push the envelope (the kitchen does great with katsu salad featuring nothing but cole slaw). Bust out a katsu burger, katsu burrito, katsu pizza or even katsu-fried steak. The meal deserves it—and Mr. Katsu is a great ambassador to make it mainstream. Think of the ratings!
Mr. Katsu, 3165 Yorba Linda Blvd., Fullerton, (714) 986-9888; www.mrkatsu.com.