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March 04, 2015

The MAISEN Tonkatsu Difference: Different Shades of Pork (Now Open in Manila!) @BenchTM

March 04, 2015

The MAISEN Tonkatsu Difference: Different Shades of Pork (Now Open in Manila!) @BenchTM





Update 8/8/2015: MAISEN: Finest Tonkatsu Restaurant in Tokyo now in Manila! (Now Open) @BenchTM  

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MAISEN is one of the finest Tonkatsu restaurants in Tokyo, with its flagship store in the Aoyoma, Shibuya area. Its name is a coined word, which means "go for it".

It was founded in 1965 by a Japanese housewife Mrs. Koide, and was later on bought by Suntory Holdings Limited of Yamazaki and Hibiki whisky fame. Ben Chan's Group (Suyen Corporation) is finally bringing the Maisen franchise to Manila mid-2015!

MAISEN AOYOMA Flagship Store
Tokyo-to 4-8-5 Jingumae Shibuya City
Operating Hours: 11.00am to 10.45pm (last call 10.00)
Telephone: +81 0120-428-485
FacebookMaisen and Aoyama main store
Websitehttp://mai-sen.com/

Here's what to expect and why foodies are excited for the opening of Maisen in Manila... 


Booking.com

MAISEN TONKATSU

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Maisen has 8 restaurants around Japan, with the Aoyama flagship restaurant only a 3-minute walk from Omotesando station. They've already expanded to Bangkok and soon, Manila.

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Upon entering, the Tonkatsu bar welcomes you--an ideal place to sit if you're alone or want fast service.

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It also has a high-ceiling, western-style room, which used to be the dressing room of a public bath house. 

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You can reserve the second floor if you want to eat in a traditional Japanese-style room.

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Maisen Menu: Amai-Yuwaku 1 | Amai-Yuwaku 2 | Okita-Kurobuta and Benibuta | Kurobuta | Chamiton 1 | Chamiton 2 | Irodori | Specialty Dishes | Beverages: Whiskey and Wine

The menu is focused on Tonkatsu using a variety of specialty pork--Amai-Yuwaku also known as Sweet Temptation, Japanese Kurobuta (black pig) by Okita-san, and Tea-leaf fed pig called Chamiton

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During the Bench Japan Food Trip, we had the privilege of experiencing a Maisen Tonkatsu tasting to orient ourselves on the Maisen difference.

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The Okita Kurobuta is a winner! It's tender, tasty, and has a good porky finish. The Chamiton meat was also very tender but has a flat taste. Some prefer the Amai-Yuwaku for its strong pork taste and rougher texture.

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The tonkatsu is served with a variety of sauces, my favorites being the smooth mustard with a wasabi spice effect, and the special Tonkatsu sauce for the Kurobuta, made with organic ingredients and apple for a sweeter finish.

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The Maisen Tonkatsu sauce is so good because it only uses pureed onion, carrot, celery, ground spices from their own factory, and vegetable fiber. They use no thickener.

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They also serve prawn and oyster katsu.

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Order the Hire Katsu (tenderloin) for the best experience. I also recommend their minced pork, which is like a tasty tonkatsu burger patty. 

 

MAISEN KIOSKS 

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A big part of the Maisen business involves kiosks in department stores like Daimaru... 

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...or retail kiosk like this one in Tokyo Station.

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They specialize in bento lunch boxes for take away...

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...and their special Katsu sando (Tonkatsu sandwiches) in nicely branded packs of 6.

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The sandwich uses a special, high-end tonkatsu sauce that is very flavorful but does not make the sandwich soggy. This helps preserve the bread's texture and bite. But it's always best to eat the sandwich within its shelf life of 30 hours.

 

THE SECRET OF THE MAISEN TONKATSU

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The pork is weighed, tenderized, and cut in the factory beside the restaurant, to ensure its high quality.

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The pork is freshly prepared for the day, with a good portion of meat and a thick layer of fat.

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The secret is in their panko (bread crumbs)--very soft, with a sword-like shape, and a bit sweet.

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It's fun to witness Ben Chan's evolution from retail king to one of Manila's dominant restaurateurs.

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Maisen manufactures their own sunflower oil, which they use in frying their tonkatsu.

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The panko is light, crunchy, and doesn't absorb much of the oil. 

 

SHABU-SHABU DINNER

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In the evening, we tasted Maisen's signature pork shabu-shabu, which began with an appetizer of Tofu with roe and sakura flower in a cute mini-bowl.

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I recommend my favorite Japanese beer, Suntory Premium Malt to go with your meal. Alternatively, you can also go for the Hibiki whisky with soda water, also known as the Suntory Whisky High Ball.

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You can also start off with a shot of Yamazaki 12 years.

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In Japan, they celebrate the little girls every 3rd of March, and they bring out the girl dolls as a tribute. The second dish was inspired by this thanksgiving celebration, with the dishes served in cute ceramic dolls, paired with white asparagus, ham, and sakura flowers.

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This will surely be the next big hit in Manila--Maisen's signature Kurobuta Siomai! Because they use kurobuta pork meat, the siomai is already very tasty, unlike some that need a high fat ratio to give it more flavor.

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It's best enjoyed with a bit of mustard and ponzu sauce. 

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A serving of sushi for our final appetizer.

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Maisen served thinly sliced Amai-Yuwaku (Sweet Temptation) pork for the shabu-shabu.

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Heat the dashi until it boils, then put the ground meat into the soup.  

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Eat the tasty meat with seaweed and the dashi soup.

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Cook the pork slices in the dashi for a few minutes (be careful not to overcook it) and eat it together with the vegetables.
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Udon or rice is poured into the remaining soup afterwards to complete the shabu-shabu experience. :)

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A Japanese meal is not complete without a toast of hot sake--Kampai!

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Congratulations to the Ben Chan group for partnering with Maisen to finally bring this beloved Tonkatsu franchise to Manila! I'm impressed with the group's aggressiveness and determination to bring the best Japanese restaurant experience to the Philippines. :)

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Overall, I'm excited for MAISEN to finally arrive in the metro. You can really feel their staff's commitment to freshness and uncompromising quality, and the use of only the best ingredients, to deliver a memorable tonkatsu experience.

I love their Kurobuta Hire Katsu and signature Mustard sauce, their Tonkatsu sauce using organic ingredients, and their special Kurobuta sauce with apple flavors.  

The Kurobuta Siomai is sure to be a huge hit with ManileƱos. The Katsu Sando, if priced well, will be a good option for kids' baon or merienda on the go. Their Kurobuta Shabu-Shabu experience should also be something to watch out for. :)

Since they are owned by Suntory, Manila foodies will now also be able to enjoy their katsu with the Suntory Highball (Hibiki with Soda Water) and Yamazaki whisky. Here's hoping they also import their Draft Suntory Premium Malt Beer.

If ever you're in Tokyo this summer season, make sure to visit their flagship Aoyoma store to taste the Maisen difference and compare it to when they open in Manila.

Congrats again to the Ben Chan Group for bringing in Maisen and further elevating the Tonkatsu experience in Manila!

MAISEN AOYOMA Flagship Store
Tokyo-to 4-8-5 Jingumae Shibuya city
Operating Hours: 11.00am to 10.45pm (last call 10.00)
Telephone: +81 0120-428-485
Facebook: Maisen and Aoyama main store
Websitehttp://mai-sen.com/

Live an Awesome Life,

anton  signature
Founder, www.OurAwesomePlanet.com 

Disclosure: Our Japan Food Trip was courtesy of Suyen Corporation (Bench group). I wrote this article with my biases, opinions, and insights. Read Our Awesome Planet Complete Disclosure Policy here.  

P.S. We also got to taste their Katsu Mabushi, which can be enjoyed in 3 ways... 

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Katsu Mabushi is like Tonkatsu cubes rice toppings.

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First, you can eat the Katsu as is with a bit of seaweed, greens, and some rice.

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The second way is to put some sesame seeds with oba leaf greens onto the rice.

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Lastly, you can enjoy it by pouring hot fish stock into the rice with the katsu.

Maisen Tonkatsu-123.jpgMaisen is also bringing the Katsu Mabushi experience to Manila very soon!

MAISEN: Finest Tonkatsu Restaurant in Tokyo now in Manila! (Opens Aug.8) @BenchTM 


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