The buzz: Maisen, in Tokyo, specializes in tonkatsu. But now you can get a taste of their renowned breaded pork cutlets at Silom Complex, where they just opened a branch in partnership with S&P. We’ll see if they get the same queues as the Tokyo venue, and whether the chef they flew in will maintain the same high quality. He’s been making tonkatsu for some 50 years, we’re told.
The décor: Typical Japanese vibe with plenty of light-color wood and a long counter bar for office workers to quickly slurp up their lunch. It looks a lot like their Shibuya branch; then again it looks a lot like half the Japanese restaurants you’ve ever seen before.
The food: Instead of using the very pricey Kagoshima kurobuta pork which is known for its marbled fat like the original branch, here the kurobuta pork is locally sourced. Still, this is not your average pig. The sauces, on the other hand, are imported from the mother land. Instead of sticking to the classic katsu curry and rice, they recommend the tonkatsu stuffed with cheese set (B255) and tenderloin Kurobuta katsu set (B395). In a hurry? Bite into the tonkatsu pocket sandwich (B98) or even have the seafood version with the shrimp katsu pocket sandwich (B108).
The drinks: Green tea is free if you dine-in.
The crowd: Office workers during lunch. Japanese expats and groups of friends in search of a taste of Tokyo in the evening. Pieng-or Mongkolkumnuankhet
Maisen, in Tokyo, is famous for specializing in tonkatsu. But now you can also get a taste of their renowned breaded pork cutlets at Silom Complex, where they opened a branch in partnership with S&P. Despite opening onto the basement of a mall, the homey, wood-heavy décor manages to achieve some kind of authenticity—and the attentive service belies the humble menu.
On top of the signature tonkatsu (B255 or B395 as a set), you’ve got cute snacks like the pocket sandwich, which sees white bread waffle-ironed into a pocket stuffed with an egg and either a pork or shrimp tonkatsu, or the regular sandwiches, which look like something a model Japanese housewife would prepare for her kids, with crusts impeccably removed. As sets, the sandwiches even come accompanied with a glass of apple juice, to really underline that feeling of snacking after school. Also in the set is a fresh, crispy salad composed of seeds, lettuce, tomatoes, tofu, okra and ponzu jelly. And on top of that, every meal starts with a giant mound of sliced cabbage.
The pork in the tonkatsu is so tender it might as well have been run through a tenderizer, though it doesn’t really taste of anything much, making it all perfect for eight year olds—but what about us? Maisen, very cleverly, also specializes in a vast array of sauces and seasonings that fill a giant wooden spice rack on each table. So while the pocket shrimp tonkatsu (B108 or B265 as a set), with its runny egg, isn’t all that exciting on its own, once you sprinkle it with seasoned salt and a dash of soy sauce, it becomes pretty amazing junk food. Similarly, that heap of cabbage will diminish remarkably fast if you splash it with either the sweet or the sour salad seasoning.
On top of the spice rack, dishes are served with yet more sauces, such as the sour, almost cinnamon-y relish that comes with the tonkatsu, or the light soy dressing served with the salads. And it’s all so well executed. The tamago (Japanese style omelet) is made fresh, its warm, eggy scent conjuring up images of a cake that’s just been plucked from the oven. And the little extras included with the sets, like the tea, the green tea ice cream or the almond custard, are all aromatic without the usual bitterness.
That nearly-minced tonkatsu which is meant to be Maisen’s hallmark can’t compare with a good breaded cutlet from the likes of Ramentei. But there’s an almost interactive quality to Maisen’s delicious seasonings, which combined with fresh produce, make it a very solid—if slightly pricey—lunch option.
|Address:||Maisen, B/F, Silom Complex, Silom Rd., Bangkok, Thailand|
|Opening hours:||daily 9:30am-8pm|
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