Tonkotsu vs. Tonkatsu


There’s a very common mistake English speakers make when ordering at a ramen shop: mixing up the pronunciation of tonkOtsu and tonkAtsu. It wouldn’t be a big deal … if the two didn’t mean totally different foods. Gah, we’ve even seen it misspelled on local restaurant signs!

Japanese is a phonetic language, kinda like Spanish. (In fact, if you read Japanese words as you would Spanish, you’re going to have decent pronunciation a lot of the time.) The Japanese a is like “ah” in English. The Japanese o is more like the English long o (like in “coat”).

Tonkotsu, literally translated, means “pork bones,” because it’s a kind of ramen broth that’s made by boiling just that.

This is tonkOtsu ramen.

Tonkatsu are slices of pork that’ve been breaded and deep-fried. They are also delicious.

This is tonkAtsu. (Image from GAHAG.)

(Now that I’m writing this, I hope there is a ramen shop that serves tonkotsu ramen with tonkatsu on it, just to fuck with people.)

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