Maisen Tonkatsu, Harajuku
This place, a few blocks off Omotesando and just one block further in from Barbacoa, my favorite churrascaria in the world (but unfortunately a place that we won’t have time to visit on this trip), is allegedly one of the best places in Tokyo for tonkatsu. Housed in what is apparently the site of a former public bath, this place is rather utilitarian-ly decorated, but we knew that we were in for a treat just by looking at the plates that were being brought by.
The menu was fairly extensive, with all sorts of cuts and sets at about 1500 Yen each (US$12.50). I went for a special kind of pork that went for twice that price though (apparently these are black pigs originating from China that had a stronger taste - kurobuta, is it?). It turned out very well, with an ultra light crust and a bit of an edgier (if mildly tougher) taste compared to a minced meat katsu that we also got that used standard pork. They brought out a special apple-based sauce just for this type of pig, which was a nice touch. And just as with Tonkichi, these guys come by to refill your shredded lettuce as much as you’d like.
One interesting thing about this place though was the huge selection of condiments sitting at your table, including not only the standard tonkatsu sauce and mustard, but also a lighter/spicier variant, as well as a number of dry spices, including dry chili pepper flakes, seasoned salt, and mixed herbs and spices (this reminded me of going to Lawry’s or perhaps more similarly, Anderson’s Pea Soup, where they have all those various types of seasoned salt that I keep trying each different kind…and liking each one too). Another pleasant surprise was the mini clams sitting in my miso soup (I’m always a sucker for clams, especially the extra-small variety).
Thumbs up for me. The great thing is that this reassures me that Tonkichi back in Singapore is still a great place to hit up for tonkatsu, even if they don’t have the plethora of sauces there.