Monday, April 12, 2010


The other day, while having dinner with friends in a Japanese restaurant, I spoke about how Japanese like to eat crushed sesame seeds. It is not that I know a lot about Japanese food; I just have this experience of grinding sesame seeds in a Japanese chain (in Seoul), Saboten, who pride themselves for selling the original Shinjuku donkatsu.

In Saboten, donkatsu is not served with sauce poured over it. You are required to make your own sauce mix. They will provide you with a small bowl with roasted sesame seeds in it. The bowl has a rough inner surface and you are required to use the small pounder provided to crush the seeds by either pounding or grinding them against the rough wall. Once the seeds are well crushed, they are mixed with donkatsu sauce squeezed out from a bottle. The sauce mix is now ready for you to dip your donkatsu pieces in.

A donkatsu set in Saboten cost KRW10,000 ($12.50SGD) which is twice the price of donkatsu set sold elsewhere. I heard from a friend that there is also a Saboten branch in Parco Marina Bay, Millinia Walk, which sells its donkatsu set for well over $20. I am not too sure if I will pay that price for my fix after having it cheaper in Seoul.

Anyway, Saboten means cactus in Japanese and it is not a pure Japanese word; its origin is traced back to Portugese or Spanish. But to me, it means donkatsu. I believe, that is also how the owner would want every customer to remember them for. I must say their donkatsu is the best I have eaten in Seoul. However, don't take my word for it as I don't really eat that much donkatsu to be able to give a fair and objective judgement.

Saboten outlet near KHU

Saboten's donkastsu is crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. Sound quite standard but I don't think it is easy to get the meat to be tender so they really do a good job. The picture above is not taken in Saboten; it is for illustration purpose.


  1. There is a Japanese restaurant at Tampines Mall selling Donkatsu that also let you grind the sesame seeds yourself. You may want to check it out.

  2. 고마워요. 돈까스가 땡기면 소개해 주시는 식당을 찾아갈 거예요 ^^