Seoul Cheap Eats: Onjeong Tonkatsu (온정돈까스)

Today I went to this super hyped-up Tonkatsu shop called Onjeong Tonkatsu (온정돈까스) which means “warmhearted tonkatsu”. For those who don’t know, a tonkatsu is a pork cutlet that’s lightly friend in panko. It has a nice crispy texture on the outside and is usually quite delicious. My friends really wanted to go because of the reviews and because it was quite famous apparently. What’s really rare is that this place wasn’t a chain restaurant, so I was really eager to try it as well. The place got pretty busy for lunch, so it is advisable to come earlier than the normal eating hours. The restaurant is open from 10:30-21:00.

You want to get out of exit 3 of the Shindaebang 3 Road station (신대방삼거리역) on line 7 and follow the green arrow.
You want to get out of exit 3 of the Shindaebang 3 Road station (신대방삼거리역) on line 7 and follow the green arrow. (click on map to enlarge)

The place looks pretty normal outside and the inside had the classic Korean traditional restaurant atmosphere. You have to take your shoes off at the entrance and eating was done on the floor, so if you have trouble eating on the floor you may feel uncomfortable. Luckily, I am able to to so, so I can share this restaurant with you guys!

Not for people who can’t sit on a floor.

 

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The menus are on the ceiling which was a pretty interesting use of space.

They provide you with a soup that would go so well with Udon noodles, but unfortunately don’t have any. They also have kimchi radish for a side dish. They have a pretty simple menu (shown below) which I translated and romanized for you.

  • Tonkatsu (donkkaseu)
  • Fish Katsu (saengseon kkasseu)
  • Chicken Katsu (chikin kkasseu)
  • Spice-sauce tonkatsu (yang nyeom donkkaseu)
  • Spicy tonkatsu (Maeun Tonkatsu)
  • Cheese tonkatsu (chijeu donkkaseu)
  • Kimchi cheese tonkatsu (gimchi chijeu donkkaseu)
  • Sweet potato cheese katsu (goguma chijeu donkkaseu)
  • Special set katsu (Jeong Shik) which has tonkatsu, fish katsu, and half a burger (Yes, half a burger)

You can also order extra-large size which is called Gobbaegi (곱배기) for an extra 1000 won. The menu is actually on the ceiling, which is pretty unique.

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Hope your neck is flexible!
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One of the best broths ever. I wish I had some udon to go with it!

I ended up ordering the set menu which I found okay, but not amazing. The frying was done fairly well without being too greasy and had a nice crunch. It was piping hot and the cutlet of the tonkatsu was a little too thick and tough for my taste. I actually came across some gristle which is a first for me when eating tonkatsu, but it’s probably a rare occasion.  Perhaps this is more of a homemade taste, when people used to beat down their cutlets by hand. This may work better for those who like thick cutlets.The sauce was a normal Korean style katsu sauce and I wish they had provided more for my rice which had no sauce as I find it hard to eat rice plain.

I forgot that fish katsu was typically served with an overly rich and oily tartar sauce and this place gave me plenty of it. I ended up scraping some of it off before eating as it’s usually a bit too oily for my taste. The fish katsu was definitely much tastier with nice flaky fish inside. If you like tartar sauce, then all the more to you. I didn’t know what to make of the half burger.

Part of me (or maybe half of me? lol) felt a little slighted to have been given half of a meat patty. I’ve never experienced such a thing at a restaurant. The burger tasted pretty much like meatloaf which was pretty good, as opposed to half-decent! Okay, I’ll stop with the puns.

The meal was more than enough and could probably serve two people comfortably.

Katsu Set Onjeong
Set Menu (Jeong shik): Tonkatsu, Fish covered with a tartar sauce, rice, a salad, and yes, half a burger.

This place probably gets some of its popularity from its ridiculous eating challenges. They have the daewang tonkatsu (대왕 돈까스) and the maeun (dijinda) tonkatsu (매운 (디진다) 돈까스).

The two challenges posted on the wall.
Should you complete the challenge, you get to be on their hall of fame and probably blacklisted from taking the challenge again. The irony.

The daewang tonkatsu is a challenge where you eat 6 tonkatsu and a lot of rice in under 20 minutes. If you fail to complete the challenge, you must pay 15000 won.

The maeun (dijinda) tonkatsu challenge is a little bit crazier where you have to eat a really spicy tonkatsu in under 20 minutes and the same penalty applies. The word “dijinda” has a few meanings, the most prominent translation being “you’re going to die”. It may seem funny at first, but this spicy tonkatsu was no joke at all.

The restaurant gave us a sample of this spicy tonkatsu and I have to say it is easily one of the spiciest things I’ve ever tried. All I had to do was touch the thing with my tongue and eventually you’ll taste what death tastes like. At first, it almost taste a bit sweet, but after a few seconds hell’s flames will reach your taste buds and make your stomach feel like World War II. I don’t see how a “warmhearted” place can make such an abomination to your inner organs. This will most likely burn your heart into ashes. I do not recommend doing this challenge unless you are really good with spicy food or have a death wish.

The most sinister tonkatsu I have ever laid eyes on.
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Just one touch of the tonkatsu had my friend sweating.

Overall, the place felt like a decent tonkatsu retaurant, but it just wasn’t for me. If you really like more “homestyle” cutlets then this place will be a plus for you. My friends, Aiden and Jay, really liked it, so maybe I’m the oddball. If you like the idea of a food challenge, I definitely recommend you coming here and trying it yourself. I would love to know someone that can beat the Spicy challenge!

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Author: Ryan Mar

Just a guy simply making the most with life abroad. Love travel, photography, food, and just enjoying life. Currently blogging about beautiful places in Seoul, Korea, along with food, culture, and observations at findingtheseoul.com.

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