January 17, 2024

What's the difference between tempura and tonkatsu?

In this article, we will give you in-depth information on the Tempura vs Katsu dish of Japan. Read our full blog to understand the difference between the two dishes. 

Famous Japanese foods like tempura and tonkatsu stand out in Japanese cuisine because they each have a distinct preparation method and unique culinary identity. The Portuguese dish tempura exemplifies a light and delicate frying technique. Tempura is typically made up of vegetables or seafood that has been lightly battered with flour, egg, and ice water before being deep-fried until crispy. 

The outcome is a delightful contrast between the ingredients' tender interior and crispy exterior. Tempura is a well-liked and sophisticated dish because of the careful frying method and emphasis on maintaining the natural flavors of the ingredients. This is a must-try Japanese food. 


Tonkatsu is a well-known Japanese meal made of deep-fried chicken or breaded pork cutlets. Traditionally, the pork is served with shredded cabbage and a flavorful tonkatsu sauce after being coated with panko breadcrumbs to give it a crispy outside.


The main component of tonkatsu is a deep-fried, breaded pork cutlet. Before it is fried, the pork is floured, dipped in beaten eggs, and then covered with breadcrumbs. 


Tonkatsu sauce, a flavorful and thick sauce made with Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, sugar, and additional seasonings, is typically served with tonkatsu. The fried pork cutlet's richness is enhanced by this sauce. 


Tonkatsu is primarily dependent on the pork, which is usually seasoned during the cooking process with a small amount of salt and pepper. The breadcrumbs that are coated might have extra seasonings added to them, which would enhance the flavor in general. 

Way of Eating

Tonkatsu is commonly served as a single, large pork cutlet that is sliced into manageable pieces before eating. It is often enjoyed with a side of shredded cabbage, providing a refreshing contrast to the richness of the fried pork. 


The coating for tonkatsu is a combination of flour, beaten eggs, and breadcrumbs. The process involves dredging a pork cutlet in flour, then dipping it into beaten eggs to create an adhesive layer, and finally coating it with breadcrumbs before deep-frying. 


Katsu refers to a broad category of Japanese dishes that involve breaded and deep-fried cutlets. Tonkatsu (pork cutlet) and Chicken Katsu (chicken cutlet) are common examples. This is one of the best street food in Japan. 


Conversely, kushi-katsu particularly refers to skewers of breaded and deep-fried food.

It is skewering different foods, such as meat, veggies, or shellfish, dredging them in bread crumbs, and deep-frying them. 


Tonkatsu is a well-known Japanese dish made of deep-fried, breaded pork cutlets. Traditionally, the pork is served with shredded cabbage and a flavorful tonkatsu sauce after being coated with panko breadcrumbs to give it a crispy outside. 


Tempura, on the other hand, usually consists of seafood or vegetables dipped in a thin batter for chicken consisting of egg, flour, and ice-cold water. Unlike the pork-focused tonkatsu, tempura can be made with a wide variety of ingredients, such as shrimp, fish, sweet potatoes, and mushrooms. Many vegetarian foods go perfectly with Tempura. 


In contrast, tempura is often served with a tentsuyu dipping sauce, made from a combination of dashi (fish stock), soy sauce, and mirin (sweet rice wine). The tentsuyu sauce is lighter and emphasizes the delicate flavors of the tempura ingredients.


Tempura, on the other hand, tends to focus on the natural flavors of the ingredients, with minimal seasoning added to the batter. The emphasis is on the light and crispy texture of the tempura, allowing the individual tastes of the seafood or vegetables to shine through.

Way of Eating

Tempura, on the other hand, is usually served as a collection of bite-sized, individually fried pieces. It is commonly enjoyed by dipping each piece into the tentsuyu sauce before eating. To add variation to the dining experience, tempura is frequently served as a part of a larger meal, such as tempura udon or tempura rice bowls.


Compared to tonkatsu, tempura coating is more delicate and lighter. Typically, tempura batter is made with a combination of flour, egg, and ice-cold water. To preserve a lumpy texture and guarantee a light and crispy texture when fried, the batter is only briefly mixed. 

Is Tempura the same as Fritter?

Although they are both fried foods, fritters, and tempura are two different culinary techniques with different batter compositions, textures, and cultural origins.


Fritters are a broad category of fried foods that typically consist of ingredients, such as fruits, vegetables, or meats, coated in a batter and deep-fried. The batter for fritters can vary widely and may include ingredients like flour, eggs, milk, baking powder, and spices. 


Tempura, on the other hand, is a Japanese frying technique that originated from Portuguese influence. It involves coating seafood, vegetables, or sometimes even certain meats in a light and crispy batter made from flour, eggs, and ice-cold water. This is what makes the main difference between Tempura and Katsu chicken.