The bar has been set pretty high after dining at one of the most original and authentic Kushikatsu restaurants in Osaka. If you haven’t already read my review on Yaekatsu, head over after this and you’ll know why. I was all excited about Panko’s opening… being a fan of this Osaka Original and of the Unlisted Collection brand, there was no hesitation… I made a booking (surprisingly easily) and off we went!
Located along hippy Haji Lane, Panko exuded a moment of Dotonburi vibe with her screaming red neon sign. The risqué hue continued into the long narrow restaurant that stretches all the way across onto Arab Street. It was simply decked out with an open kitchen on one end and table seating on the other. It wasn’t too busy that Saturday night. Good, I thought to myself… they will cook better without a boisterous crowd! We ordered their special dinner course and asked our friendly server to recommend a few other popular choices. The dishes came at a good pace giving us time to savor every freshly fried skewer. It’s evident Panko had adopted a more sophisticated eating style to Kushikatsu dining , providing different complimenting condiments like salt, lemon and Ponzu together with the usual traditional Katsu dip.
Our course started with a cup of assorted fresh crunchy vegetables. Chilled and refreshing and totally yummy with the accompanying miso dip, which was so delicious we asked for seconds! The perfect consistency for dipping or dredging the salad sticks into. Had the right balance of sweetness to savory and a little nutty crunch from the roasted sesame seeds.
Like many restaurants, there will be hits and there will be misses. And it’s unfortunate Panko had a number of misses. For me, a good Kushikatsu can’t have its crust falling apart. Not every skewer is popcorn size. In fact, in Osaka, the meats are huge and chunky. And coming straight outta bubbling hot oil, its not advisable to just pop it in! So, if you took a bite off that beautiful piece of fish, the rest of it shouldn’t fall naked. The best part of Kushikatsu is also that delicious dip. Every restaurant, if they’re serious, makes their own. And that secret recipe dip is what keeps people coming or leaving. Perhaps I had set my hopes and expectations too high…but it still was good effort on Panko’s part; and a good fried dinner if you’re not too fussy about your Kushikatsu.