HISTORY of Bull-dog sauce

Sauce and “tonkatsu”
have an inextricable relationship.
“Tonkatsu” continues to be beloved by
Japanese people just as it was long ago.
So where did “tonkatsu” come from?
How do you prepare delicious “tonkatsu”?
Allow us to tell you everything you
thought you knew about “tonkatsu.”


Japan has only been consuming meat for about 150 year ens, which is not a very long time. This is believed to be because Emperor Tenmu issued a ban on hunting and fishing, which made it illegal to consume meat for the 1200-year en stretch between the Asuka period and the Bakumatsu period.

Upon entering the Meiji period, Japan set out on the path to modernization in order to match the Western powers. This resulted in the rapid influx of Western culture, which in turn ushered in a renaissance in food culture due to the influence of Western cuisine. The Meiji emperor himself advocated the consumption of meat, and once it was no longer taboo, seasonings and spices that complemented the taste of meat (such as sauces) began to be brought in from the West. While agriculture had a strong cultural foundation, the proliferation of Western eating habits led to a rise in livestock cultivation, and this would lead to Japan making its own innovations on Western cuisine—the very innovations that now grace dining tables throughout the country.


Beginning of
the Edo Period

Knowledge of pork makes its way to Satsuma province via the Ryukyu Islands, which learned of it from China.

History of


A semi-governmental food company known as the “Gyuba Company” is founded and begins the sale of meat.


Around the same time as the establishment of the “Gyuba Company,” Fukuzawa Yukichi published a pamphlet entitled “Nikujiki no Setsu” (An Argument for Eating Meat), in which he recommended meat consumption to the masses.

History of


Within just five years of the beginning of the Meiji period, Japan underwent a major transformation. Edo was renamed Tokyo.



The Tondenhei system was implemented, which began the development of Hokkaido and would later become the foundation of onion and potato cultivation, ingredients essential to Western cooking.


In 1872, the Hotel Seiyoken opened in Tsukiji. Later on, around the time Ueno Park opened, a branch of Seiyoken opened in Ueno and served as a trailblazer in French cuisine. During the Rokumeikan period, this became a lively social gathering spot for the royalty, nobility, and elite members of society, and it sometimes hosted conferences of historical significance. It should be noted that the first Western-style restaurant in Japan is believed to have been the restaurant “Ryorintei” in Nagasaki, which opened in 1863.

History of


The last volume of the aforementioned recipe book “Seiyo Ryoritsu” published in 1872 included an entry for “hork cutlets.” “Hork” means “pork.” An examination of the recipe reveals that it called for frying pork in butter, which is similar to modern sautéed pork. This makes it different than the breaded and fried pork cutlets that we are familiar with.



The Ministry of Agriculture and Commerce imported sire pigs from America and England, helping to turn hog raising into a full-fledged industry.


Worcestershire sauce is an essential complement to tonkatsu and Western cuisine. And the first recipe to appear in Japan was published in “Katei Jitsuyo Saishin Wayo Ryori” (The Latest in Practical Japanese-Western Home Cooking).
In Kazuhiro Ono’s “Meiji, Taisho, Showa no Recipe de Shoku Doraku” (The Pleasures of Meiji, Taisho, and Showa Recipes), he reproduced this Worcestershire sauce recipe. The author comments, “This sauce has a taste unlike anything you’ve ever experienced.” The recipe called for using soy sauce, vinegar, onions, ginger, brown sugar, pepper, and salt, and it used no spices or fruits. Considering the times, perhaps this could not be helped.


Thanks to the invention of the pork cutlet at “Rengatei” in Ginza, the dish begins to take off in popularity.

History of
1907 1907


In “Guntai Ryoriho” (Army Cooking), the official recipe book of the army, cutlets are one of the many meat dishes featured.


The restaurant “Kawakin” in Asakusa, Tokyo (with headquarters currently in Shitaya) begins serving “Katsu curry” (curry with pork cutlet).


“Katsudon” (pork cutlet rice bowl) is invented at the restaurant “Sanchoan” in Waseda.


The word “tonkatsu” originated from the word “katsuretsu” (cutlet), which comes from the cutlets used in French cuisine. It is believed that once pork started being used to make pork cutlets, “ton,” which is the Chinese reading of “buta” (pork), started being used instead of “pork,” and thus the word “tonkatsu” was born.

From the end of the Meiji period to the Taisho period, pork cutlets became a staple of many Western-style restaurants. But when did this transition to “tonkatsu”?



“Tonkatsu” begins to be sold at “Rakuten” in Ueno and “Kitahachi” in Asakusa.


With the push toward “civilization and enlightenment,” Western cuisine began to spread throughout Japan, and many original Japanese takes on these dishes began to emerge afterward. One of the most notable symbols of this trend is the birth of “tonkatsu” from the pork cutlet. Worcestershire sauce, an essential partner to the cutlet, underwent an adaptation as well, with chuno sauce and tonkatsu sauce serving as two examples of the evolution in the sauce’s taste.

Nowadays, tonkatsu exists not only in Japan, but has spread to neighboring Korea as well as Europe and America. Tourists all across the world are constantly seeking authentic tonkatsu along with sauce that brings out its true flavor. It won’t be long before Japanese tonkatsu that has spread abroad is adapted for unique recipes that are then re-imported back into Japan.

Even within Japan, new variations of tonkatsu are being created, such as “mille-feuille katsu,” and new dishes will surely continue being born. And if tonkatsu is evolving, then there’s a good chance tonkatsu sauce will evolve as well.

Tetsu Okada, Yoshoku Kotohajime, Kodansha Gakujutsu Bunko
Kazuhiro Ono, Meiji, Taisho, Showa no Reshipi de Shoku Doraku, Yosensha Publishing Co. Ltd
Kazuhiro Ono, Karee Horoki, Soshinsha
Bulldog sauce 55 Nenshi
Website: Agriculture & Livestock Industries Corporation, “Soosu ni Tsuite”
Website: Japan Business Press, “Agemono Dewa Nakatta Tonkatsu Tanjo Hiwa,” by Yuko Shibukaha
Website: Nihon Sauce Kogyokai, “Soosu ni Tsuite”

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