Thursday, January 24, 2013

Maisen Tonkatsu in Omotesando


This was actually the reason we went to Omotesando. It was so cold outside that I had spent most of the morning, cozy in my hotel room, "Whatsapping" with friends in Manila. They were telling me what to do, where to go, what to see, what to buy...

Before I knew it, it was 2 pm and B was back from his meetings. I'm not much of a shopper (specially in Tokyo where everything is so expensive) so I was content to stay indoors. I can hear it already.."whaat? you wasted a day in Tokyo in the hotel room?!"

But now I was hungry and I also wanted to go to Kiddyland. I don't know why I even wanted to go to Kiddyland. It's a building full of Japanese character toys and stationery sets which my girls are not even fond of. I do have very good memories of this place because mom used to leave us to browse for a whole afternoon. In the end, we would go home with new pencil boxes, pencils, erasers and stickers. My kids don't get thrilled with cute pencils, erasers and stickers the way I used to but I still wanted to look for small things for them.

Here I was in one of the nicest shopping streets in all of Tokyo, and all I  wanted to do was go to Kiddyland and to eat at Maisen, the tonkatsu place. I don't think B realizes how lucky he is!

We walked the small streets behind Omotesando and found signs to Maisen. It was almost 4 pm by this time, and the place had a few diners also having a late lunch--or maybe an early dinner. The first time we came here was more than ten years ago, during lunchtime, and the place was packed.  My friend Christine, who was living in Tokyo at that time, introduced us to this place.

"In Tokyo, when you want to eat sushi, you go to a sushi place. When you want tempura, you go to a tempura place. The good restaurants specialize in only one thing," she told us. For tonkatsu, we had to go to a tonkatsu house, and Maisen is one of her favorites. I wondered what the big deal was since I'm not a fan of deep fried breaded pork. But after having a proper tonkatsu the Maisen way, I changed my mind.  Over the years I've recommended it to other friends.

They handed us the Japanese menus and  everything looked the same so we asked the server her recommendation. She pointed out Tonkatsu Rosu and another one. The difference? One had more fat than the other. I ordered the lean one since I don't like pork fat anyway.

It's served with a specially-made tonkatsu sauce. While most people douse their whole cutlet with the sauce, I like to dip my tonkatsu right before I bite into it. This way, the breading remains crisp and light as it touches my tongue.

The order comes with all-you-can-eat shredded cabbage, rice, miso soup and come pickles. I ate slowly, savoring each bite. Tonkatsu is not exactly a "wise food choice" (when it comes to the maintenance stage of my diet), but at least it's a very high quality "unwise food choice."

I liked this red bag--and discovered it was made with the same leather they use for baseball gloves, and made in the Philippines!

After Linner (That's what my niece, Regina, calls a meal at 4 pm), B had another meeting to attend so he headed back to the train station while I walked off the meal browsing the little shops around Shibuya. I also walked down Omotesando going in and out of shops. I took my time walking around that by the time I got to Kiddyland at 9 pm, it had closed. Hmm...too bad, but there is still tomorrow.

 And this is considered a "short" queue

I also chanced on a restaurant called Eggs n Things, which looked very popular with the locals. I checked what the fuss was all about and was surprised to see a menuboard featuring American-style breakfasts! They a lining up in the rain for this stuff? A little googling revealed that this restaurant is originally from Honolulu and as popular there as it is here. But when the Japanese like something, they can be really obsessive, so the lines and waiting times are even longer here. Between unwise food choices of waffles or eggs and tonkatsu? I would happily fall in line for tonkatsu.

I wasn't about to spoil the memory of a delicious Linner by having a late dinner, so I grabbed myself a yogurt from a convenience store and headed back to the hotel. Considering I'm always running around from one place to another in Manila, this was one lazy but luxurious way to spend a day in Tokyo. 


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