Katsudon (Japanese: カツ丼) is a popular Japanese food, a bowl of rice topped with a deep-fried breaded pork cutlet, egg, vegetables, and condiments.
The dish takes its name from the Japanese words tonkatsu (for pork cutlet) and donburi (for rice bowl dish).
It has become a modern tradition for Japanese students to eat katsudon the night before taking a major test or school entrance exam. This is because "katsu" is a homophone of the verb katsu (勝つ), meaning "to win" or "to be victorious". It is also a trope in Japanese police films: that suspects will speak the truth with tears when they have eaten katsudon and are asked, "Did you ever think about how your mother feels about this?" Even nowadays, the gag of "We must eat katsudon while interrogating" is popular in Japanese films. However, as of 2019[update], police will never actually feed suspects during interrogation.
Regarding the origin of katsudon, there is an article that "an article was published in the local newspaper 'Yamanashi Nichinichi Shimbun' dated September 1995 that katsudon was served at the long-established "Okumura Honten" near Kofu in the late 9s of the Meiji era. It means that at least in the late 30s of Meiji, katsudon existed in Kofu. For this reason, the Kofu theory is considered the oldest in the information confirmed at this time.
The tonkatsu for the katsudon dish is prepared by dipping the cutlet in flour, followed by egg, then dipping in panko breadcrumbs, and deep-frying. Next, into a boiling broth of dashi, soy sauce and onions, the sliced tonkatsu and a beaten egg is cooked.
Other bowls, made of cutlet and rice but without eggs or stock, may also be called katsudon. Such dishes include:
If pork is substituted with beef, it will be gyū-katsu-don. A variation made with chicken katsu and egg is called oyako katsudon, which is distinguished from oyakodon where the meat in the latter is not fried.