Restaurant: Gombei Bento
City: Sunnyvale, CA

I had lunch at Gombei Bento with a few coworkers. Gombei Bento is one of the four locations owned by the original Gombei at San Jose Japantown. This particular location specializes in bento-style dishes.

I had the katsudon, which is tonkatsu (deep-fried pork cutlet) with beaten egg, onion, and chives, over a bowl of rice. The egg wasn’t fully cooked; this is apparent by its shininess in the photo below.


Here’s some general info about katsudon, from Wikipedia:

Katsudon (カツ丼) is a popular Japanese food, a bowl of rice topped with a deep-fried pork cutlet, egg, 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 ritual 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 勝つ katsu, meaning “to win” or “to be victorious”. It also a famous gag of Japanese police films: many people think 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.

Katsudon cooked with egg appears to be a dish from Tokyo, as explained by Time Out Tokyo:

Sanchoan is a soba restaurant that dates back to the Edo Period and is located close to Waseda University, at the Babashitacho intersection. Sanchoan is said to have created curry nanban, but there is one other dish that it is also said to have brought into the world: katsudon, or rather, the style of katsudon that became popular in the Tokyo area – served with a beaten egg, which is poured over the pork cutlet and partially cooked.

Miss Mochi’s Adventures explains the name ‘katsudon’ in detail:

Technically speaking, katsudon can be made several ways, but [the] preparation with the egg and onions is the most popular. In fact, most of the time when people talk about this dish, they simply call it “katsudon” rather than the more specific “Tamago-Toji Katsudon” (卵とじ カツ丼) which translates as “egg-bound cutlet bowl.”