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 is 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.
Variations include sauce katsudon (with Worcestershire sauce), demi katsudon (with demi-glace and often green peas, a specialty of Okayama), shio-katsudon (with salt, another Okayama variety), shōyu-dare katsudon (with soy sauce, Niigata style), and miso-katsudon (a favorite in Nagoya). Beef (gyū-katsu) and chicken (oyakodon) can substitute for the pork. Katsu curry is a variation with curry sauce instead of the usual egg.
In popular culture
Katsudon has a frequent appearance in Yuri!!! on ICE. It's however not eaten every episode due to its high calorie content. The series' protagonist is often called "pork cutlet bowl", referring to katsudon. The dish gained popularity and is frequently recreated by fans. Also in other anime series, katsudon has appeared. In Haikyū!!, it is mentioned as a dish eaten before an important match.
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