Ton & Co, Windsor

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MELBOURNE | Ton & Co is Japanese restaurant in Windsor with a very specific focus – tonkatsu. I was recently invited to check it out and, given that tonkatsu is one of my favourite foods, was definitely interested in seeing their take on the dish. “Ton” is Japanese for pork and “katsu” means “cutlet” – tonkatsu is simply a panko crumbed, fried pork cutlet. It’s a simple thing, but getting it right is something that’s hard to do and I’ve always struggled to find tonkatsu outside of Japan that matches what I’ve eaten at places like Tonkatsu Maisen and Katsukura in Japan.

Ton & Co is owned by owners Jason How and Andrew Poon, and inspired by the duo’s love of pork and, of course, tonkatsu. How hails from Malaysia and was part of the team behind the highly regarded Kuala Lumpur pork restaurant ANTE. He also spent time living in Munich, where he fell in love with German pork dishes. Long story short, the guy knows what he’s talking about when it comes to pork.

The space is unassuming from the street, an open space with floor to ceiling windows allowing lots of natural sunlight to shine through, and a high exposed ceiling. It’s at the base of a relatively new apartment building and has a bit of a generic “exciting retail commercial tenancy” circa 2010s vibe about it. WI spoke to How who told us that there are plans to make the space feel more cozy in the coming months.

The menu is a simple one page affair, a few tonkatsu options along with a selection of other mains and sides. Think baby back pork ribs, poached salmon, and grilled skewers. For drinks its a small selection of local and Japanese beers, mostly Australian wines, sake, and umeshu. Everything on the menu looks appealing, but if you’re coming here, you’re probably interested in the tonkatsu.

Ton & Co source their meat from local butchers who cut the meat to their exact requirements. They then cure the meat on site for around four days to maximise flavour and tenderness. There are four options on offer – the signature 400g, bone-on pork tomahawk, pork fillet (hire-katsu), pork striploin (rosu-katsu), and pork striploin with curry. While people’s default option might be to go for the fillet option, anyone who has been to Japan knows that locals tend to favour the striploin, which is juicier because of the extra fat, and cheaper.

I ordered the striploin, and was given the option of either a sesame or tonkatsu sauce. Being a traditionalist, I had to go for the tonkatsu sauce. When the food arrived, the presentation was spot on. Pre-cut pork, golden crumbing, atop a wire rack to stop the bottom going soggy. The sauce is provided on the side rather than already on the cutlet so you can put on as much or as little as you like. Also on the side is a cabbage salad.

I took my first bite and was immediately transported back to Japan. The pork is perfectly cooked, juicy and tender. The fat melts in your mouth and enhances each bite, the crumbing is light, buttery and crispy. The salad, which usually acts as a counter to the richness of the pork, was under-dressed, and when I mentioned this to How he told me that as the restaurant has only been open a few weeks they’re still fine tuning somethings – the salad being one of them.

Lauren, meanwhile, opted for the poached salmon, which is miso glazed and coated with a seaweed crust. It’s served in a shiitake mushroom broth with sake steamed leeks and is delicious. The salmon is dense and tender, and the broth really adds to the overall dish. We also had super tender ox-tail skewers – cubes of 18 hour marinated ox tongue served simply with tare, togarashi, and sesame oil. These are a must order. If you love ox tongue you’ll love these, and if you’re unsure about it, this is the dish that will make a convert of you.

Japan is one of those places where visiting the country “ruins” the cuisine elsewhere. The Japanese are experts at perfecting every dish and nothing ever comes quite close to the best versions over there. So while Ton & Co isn’t quite up there with the best tonkatsu I’ve had in Japan it comes very, very close. It’s the next best thing to getting on a plane and flying to Japan and, with the little details still being tweaked, the tonkatsu here is only going to get better. I know I’ll be back again very soon.

Ton & Co

118 High Street
Windsor
Victoria 3181
Australia

Telephone: (08) 9023 3396
E-mail: n/a
Website

Open
Sun, Tue – Fri: 5:00pm to 10:00pm
Sat: 12:00pm to 3:00pm; 5:00pm to 10:00pm

Ton & Co Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Paul
Paul
Paul founded The City Lane back in 2009 as a place to share photos of his travels around Europe with friends and family. The City Lane might have changed quite a lot since those early days but one thing that’s remained constant is Paul’s passion for food, travel and culture, and a desire to photograph and write about his experiences. Paul has a strong inquisitive nature that drives him to look beneath the surface in order to discover what really makes a city and its people tick, and what better way to do this than over a good meal or drink, with a city’s locals, at places that people who live in that city actually frequent. Paul is also a co-host of The Brunswick Beer Collective, a podcast that may or may not actually be about beer.

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