This place generated considerable blogger buzz when it first opened in Aberdeen mall last January. And at the time, the lines for service at their mall food court shop were lengthy indeed. I was not prepared to stand in line for twenty minutes just to place an order, so I postponed until the initial buzz wore off.
As I understand it, this is a franchise operation with hundreds of locations throughout Asia, with the Richmond location being the first in Canada. And apparently, this is the first Saboten “Express” (the others being sitdown restaurants).
It’s a pretty simple menu here. Either a breaded pork loin cutlet, or a tenderloin cutlet, deep-fried, served with rice, a nest of raw finely shredded cabbage, a cup of Japanese pickles, a bowl of miso soup and topped with whatever is appropriate to your order. For example, the standard set comes with tonkatsu sauce and roasted sesame seeds.
There’s also breaded prawns, and a breaded pork cutlet sandwich on the menu. I think I saw a katsu don option as well, topped with sautéed onions and an egg.
I chose the pork loin katsu curry set.
The miso soup is a fairly standard bowl of miso soup. I don’t get really excited about miso, so it’s hard for me to get buzzed about it. The pork cutlet is cooked to the right “doneness”, and the breading is crisp without being oily.
The curry sauce is tasty and very mild. Japanese curry is basically curry with no heat. I think I would have preferred the curry sauce be served in a cup or bowl on the side. The breading on the pork cutlet absorbs the curry sauce like a sponge, nullifying the crispness in no time. The pickles are there as a palette cleanser, and they do the trick.
Overall, I’d say the pork cutlet is pretty good, but if I’d waited in line for half an hour (like in the first couple of months after this place opened), I’d have expected a lot more.