I always say that if we’re talking about food, I was a Japanese in the past life. Sushi, ramen – these are staples that I’ve always blogged about here at Candid Cuisine, except for one – Tonkatsu. I’m never a Tonkatsu fan. Quite frankly, my Kimukatsu experience wasn’t life changing, and I still couldn’t quite fathom why people in Manila would fall in line at Yabu House of Katsu. But everything has changed when I landed in Tokyo.
MAISEN Tonkatsu is one of the most popular tonkatsu places in Japan. Maisen also has a branch in Mandarin Gallery, Singapore, where I dined at Hashida Sushi and Ippudo Ramen back then, but as usual I ignored it.
After a very long travel, I decided to have a very fulfilling, comfort meal at Shibuya Hikarie, where it was near to the hotel I was staying. I’ve heard so many good things about Maisen, and my stomach is rumbling that the sight of Maisen just made me want to settle for this, and not look for ramen or sushi.
Scanning their menu, the sound of Spain’s Iberico pork did not appeal to me. I have to taste the best of Japan and not some imported pig. It’s outrageous eating 4800 yen for Iberico Tonkatsu when you’re in Tokyo.
TOKYO-X TONKATSU PORK LOIN – 3000 Yen
So I settled for Tokyo-X, the new Japanese breed of pig, well-known for its marbling that’s unusual for a pig. And it’s a tad cheaper compared to Iberico pig.
And I was in Tonkatsu heaven. I, the non-Tonkatsu lover. It was simply crunchy, succulent, with the right amount of fat that’s not too fatty or heavy in the stomach. The panko breading wasn’t annoying, like what I usually had in Tonkatsu places here in Manila, and it was a welcoming sensation to my tastebuds. I love dipping it in ponzu sauce, because the sourness and fried texture of the tonkatsu made it very, very, very, ultra delicious. Comparing this to Saboten, Ginza Bairin, and Yabu House of Katsu, Maisen is the clear winner.
Maisen also serves their Tonkatsu with cabbage, rice and miso soup, and ponzu sauce except there’s no sesame seeds to crush or grind. These are staples in every single Tonkatsu meal, just about anywhere. You can certainly ask for more cabbage if you like. Their cabbage is very smooth in texture, and cuts through the fried tonkatsu easily.
Need I say more? Pictures paint a thousand words. No doubt that Maisen changed my mind about tonkatsu. In fact, after my Maisen experience, I still keep on looking for good tonkatsu in Tokyo, but my next Tonkatsu dining experiences weren’t quite good altogether.
I will never look at Tonkatsu the same way again.
If you have time, you can head to Omotesando where Maisen has a branch at 4-8-5 Jingumae, which used to be a World War II public bathhouse. It’s quite a unique experience.
(It’s quite fair that I will give a perfect 5 to customer experience for these Japanese restaurants. The service is impeccable anywhere in Tokyo, and you’ll find them anticipating your needs as a customer even before you get to know you need it.)
MAISEN TONKATSU Rating:
[usrlist “Taste and Originality: 5” “Customer Experience: 5” “Value for Money: 3.5” “Brick and Mortar: 3.5”]