Pig on Pig on Pig

The many of layers of tonkatsu at Culver City's Kimukatsu

What's the secret to phenomenal tonkatsu, the Japanese equivalent of schnitzel?

According to Tokyo-based chain Kimukatsu, it's all about the layers. Twenty-five of them, to be exact.

To make the dish, sheets of paper-thin pork are dredged in panko crumbs and cooked low and slow for eight minutes to seal in the juices and produce a jagged, golden-brown crust. When the finished cutlets are dipped in tonkatsu sauce (a sweeter, thicker cousin of Worcestershire), it's easy to see why they caused hour-long waits when the chain first debuted in Japan.

Kimukatsu, which also has a location in Hawaii, has planted its flag at the spiffy new Culver Crossroads shopping complex. The spacious, modern restaurant offers eight tonkatsu variations: One variety gushes molten yellow cheese from its center while another comes splashed with tangy ponzu and a chunky house-made tartar sauce.

Japanese panna cotta

We stuck with the original combination set ($19), which came with a lightly dressed cabbage salad, miso soup, sour plum pickles and a wooden tub filled with fragrant steamed-to-order rice.

End your meal with a bowl of quivering Japanese panna cotta ($5), an ultra-firm custard dusted with sweet toasted soybean flour. Like the supple crunch of tonkatsu, it's a textural combination that's unusual–but distinctly Japanese.