When you talk about pork cutlet, the Japanese makes one of the best fried cutlets with crispy batter and succulent meat. One such restaurant which is very popular with both locals and tourists is Maisen
There are around 6 outlets in Tokyo itself and they even have outlets in a few South East Asia countries. The one we visited is the one located in an old converted bathhouse near Omotesando Station. In the afternoon, they have a takeaway counter for customers to buy bento sets while the main restaurant is opened for lunch and dinner.
Unlike the impression of an old bath house, the interior of the building has been renovated and looks very modern and classy. There is nothing here that reminds you vaguely of what the building used to be and it totally matches the look of an expensive Japanese high end restaurant
The cashier is at the front of the restaurant when you just enter and at the side you can also purchase some of their products like their sauces as well as their sandwiches.
At peak periods like meal times, it is common to see a queue so the restaurant even has a whole length of bench within the restaurants for customers waiting for their turn.
While you wait, you can also see the customers having their meal at the counter seats. Other than the counter seats, there are also table seating at the 2nd floor.
The counter seats are shaped liked a U shape surrounding the kitchen and the frying counter so the server is able to see all customers at one glance and quickly attend to them
From the counter you can see the 2 main chef preparing the main items for the meal which is the fried cutlet and the cabbage that comes with it. Other items like boiled or braised items are prepared in the closed kitchen behind which is then passed to the 2 chef in front
Most part of the menu is dedicated to different cuts of pork giving the cutlet different texture. Some parts are more costly than the rest so if you are going for the more premium ones, be prepared to pay at least ¥3000 and above. The most popular items are the black pork cutlets.
There is an entire platter of different sauces on the counter for each guests which includes the soy and vinegar based sauce for the cabbage, chilli pepper, 2 different kinds of sweet sauces for the fried cutlet
The size of the cutlet is pretty huge and thick with great crispy skin and batter. Each serving is accompanied by fresh shredded cabbage which helps to balance out the oiliness of the fried pork.
The batter with bread crumbs make the skin covering the pork extremely crispy and it is very thin thus giving the cutlet the right crunch without an overly floury skin. The pork itself is very tender and juicy and was cooked just right so you can taste the natural sweetness of the black pork. Since the item is fried, the sweet sauce gives it the right balance. I especially liked the sauce which is exclusive to black pork orders only as it has a slight tangy taste to it.
We also ordered the minced pork cutlet for sharing since it is also one of the popular items. The skin is the same as the black pork cutlet but the meat is slightly softer and juicier since it is minced up. Personally, I preferred the black pork cutlet for its flavours and texture.
Overall, the food served at Maisen is definitely of high quality and many say that it is the best Tonkatsu restaurant in Japan. For those who is planning to visit, be prepared for a long queue and good damage to your wallets.
Address: 4 Chome-8-5 Jingumae, Shibuya City, Tokyo 150-0001, Japan
Operating hours: 11 am to 10 pm