Since the early 20th century, much of Japanese cuisine has taken inspiration from Western cuisine. It's a genre the Japanese call yoshoku (“Western food”). That fascination can lead to the obsessive replication of classic dishes, which is why you're just as likely to find excellent pizza in Kyoto as you are in Naples. But it can also lead to the reinterpration of Western staples into something uniquely Japanese.

The katsu sando is a great example of yoshoku. A katsu (a shortening of the Japanese word for cutlet, katsuretsu) is breaded and fried, and sandwiched between two slices of shokupan, fluffy white Japanese milk bread. Sando is the Japanese abbreviation of sandoitchi, which means sandwich. It's a triple-threat snack: photogenic, texturally interesting and deliciously moreish.

Katsu sandos are everywhere in Melbourne right now, and only getting more popular. Here are the best places in town to get your hands on one.

Related pages:
Best Japanese Restaurants in Melbourne
Best Sushi in Melbourne
Best Ramen in Melbourne
Best Sandwiches in Melbourne

Eazy Peazy

Before Eazy Peazy, chef Dan Chan was cooking at Hong Kong’s most famous yakitori joint, Yardbird. His classic take on the katsu sando is only available at lunch and doesn’t rock the boat too much: panko-crumbed pork, lettuce and tonkatsu.

108 Swan Street, Richmond

Saint Dreux

This might be the first place in Melbourne to exclusively serve katsu sandos on its menu. The offering includes chicken, pork, prawn and even a $28 wagyu sando.

Level 2 St. Collins Lane 260 Collins Street, Melbourne

Supernormal

Supernormal’s New England lobster roll is arguably the city’s most famous sandwich. But anyone who’s visited Andrew McConnell’s kinda-Japanese diner for lunch knows the pork katsu sando with shaved cabbage and Bull-dog-brand tonkatsu sauce on fluffy Wonder White bread is just as worthy of acclaim.

180 Flinders Lane, Melbourne

Cibi

A subtle and classic take on the pork katsu sando.

31-39 Keele Street, Collingwood

279

The offering here isn't a sando – it's a musubi, which looks like a cross between a sandwich and a sushi roll. It's shaped into a triangle, stuffed with katsu chicken and wrapped in nori.

279 Victoria Street, West Melbourne

Cutler & Co.

The katsu sando at Supernormal’s sister restaurant is almost identical, except the pork is swapped out for a fried and breaded abalone cutlet. This delicious high-low take on the genre is only available on the bar menu, which is a plus in our books – it means you can drop in for one at any time you like.

55-57 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy

Lokall

This chicken katsu ticks all the boxes: Bulldog sauce, wonderful crumbed cutlet, wrapped up in soft shokupan.

582 Swan Street, Burnley

Chotto Motto

Although the specialty here is gyoza, there's a solid line-up of katsu sandos here. There's the usual suspects, but notably there's a vegetarian sando here which uses an edamame and shiitake mushroom croquette.

287 Wellington Street, Collingwood

The Moon

This wine bar and bottle shop has a globe-trotting menu of bar snacks, which includes kangaroo carpaccio with Vegemite and a very decent pork katsu sando.

28 Stanley Street, Collingwood

Future Future

A crumbed meatball katsu sando with tonkatsu sauce and kewpie mayo is a highlight at this Richmond favourite.

191 Swan Street, Richmond

KUU Cafe

Kuu had sandos on the menu far before they were so pervasive. They've been great since day one. There are prawn and chicken options, but the tofu is the standout: it's one of the best vegetarian katsu sandos out there.

190 Park Street, South Melbourne

Congress

Okay, nominally, this might not be a katsu sando, but the pigs head and green mustard sanga clearly draws from the Japanese dish's lineage. It's everything a katsu sando should be: a fried, succulent piece of meat, a tangy condiment and fluffy white bread.

49 Peel Street, Collingwood