I was reading the exchanges from 7/12 about Tampopo/Porter Sq Exchange and suddenly developed a craving for katsu-don, despite the ferocious heat outside (a bowl of cold soba ramen would have been more appropriate for the weather). Having negotiated rush-hour traffic, I finally made it to Japantown. I plumped for Tampopo, my decision based on the presence of the older guy manning the deep fryer behind the counter (see link/previous threads). Besides katsu-don, I ordered takoyaki - the fried version with spicy mayo, which the waitress said was better than the steamed version ('regular' takoyaki). It was well-fried - slightly crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, with a decent-sized piece of chewy octopus. It was tasty, but after eating a couple of balls (there were 8) I began to get bored with the sameness of the flavour. The spicy mayo was not too exciting either; I would have preferred a more piquant and sour sauce like the one usually served with tonkatsu, which would've provided a better contrast to the taste of deep-fry. I've had takoyaki only a couple of other times before so I'm no expert, but I did like the ones I had at a Japanese eatery near NYU (whose name I can't remember-sorry!)
The katsu-don was, likewise, tasty but not outstanding. They used a good quality pork cutlet, and the breading was crispy and not greasy, but the sauce and seasonings were just average. I usually get katsu-don at Cafe Mami (on the corner, opposite the Japanese bakery)and while the quality is equivalent to Tampopo's, it's cheaper.
Does anyone have a recommendation for katsu-don (it's comfort food for me)?
For dessert I had mango icecream from C&M IceCream (diagonally across from Tampopo). It was creamy and there were small bits of mango in it, but the mango flavor seemed diluted by the creaminess.
Next time I'll try the Unadon at Ottyi (?sp), the stall next to Tampopo, which was recommended by more than a few hounds in previous posts.
Also wandered into Kotobukiya supermkt and noticed that they sell fresh salmon heads (for making salmon head in miso soup).