Tonkatsu. Panko crumbed and fried pork cutlet. Served with shredded cabbage and special sauce. Crisp, crunchy and delicious. For a truly decadent tonkatsu experience in Tokyo we like to visit Maisen in Omotesando. Just around the corner from Shibuya. Famous for its Crossing; the busiest intersection in the world. And Harajuku. Famous for the wildly fashionable teenage girls who congregate on Sundays at the bridge near the entrance of the beautiful Yoyogi Park.
Set in the airy confines of a former public bathhouse, Maisen has deservedly acquired its reputation amongst locals and foreigners alike as the “go to” place for tonkatsu. A simple, home-style dish. One glance at the menu and you know this restaurant takes its pork very seriously. Allowing the diner to not only choose the preferred cut of meat but breed of pig as well. Unfortunately this visit we simply ran out of time to visit Maisen for our tonkatsu fix. To appease my disappointed offspring I promised to recreate the Maisen experience at home. On Australian soil.
Whilst I was quite pleased with my homespun attempt, served with coleslaw rather than the traditional shredded cabbage, if you find yourself in Tokyo, Maisen is definitely worth a visit. There are various branches throughout Tokyo. Maisen take-out tonkatsu is also available in the food halls gracing the basements of the larger department stores. There is even a sandwich version for busy workers and commuters.
Details can be found on the restaurant’s web site www.mai-sen.com. Just remember to hit the translate to English button at the top of the page. Unless you are fluent in Japanese, of course.
The address of our favourite restaurant in Omotesando is:
4-8-5 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku
Here is the recipe for my homespun version of this dish. Prepared when I want to channel the flavours of Maisen at home.
Tonkatsu (Japanese Panko Crumbed Pork Cutlet)
Traditionally served with shredded cabbage dressed with a citrus soy vinaigrette. At home I like to serve it with coleslaw.
4 pork sirloin cutlets, each piece about 1.5 cm thick and weighing about 160 g
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups Japanese panko crumbs, or a combination of fresh and dried breadcrumbs
oil for shallow frying
shredded cabbage or coleslaw
tonkatsu sauce, commercially prepared or as per recipe below
SLASH fat rimming one side of the cutlet to keep meat from curling when fried.
SEASON cutlets on both sides.
DREDGE in flour.
DIP into beaten egg.
PRESS into panko or breadcrumbs.
HEAT 2 – 3 cm oil in a wok or heavy bottomed saucepan to 175 C.
FRY cutlets in 2 batches for 5 – 7 minutes until golden brown. Turning once or twice.
REMOVE from pan and drain on absorbent paper.
CUT pork crosswise into bite size pieces that are easy to manage with chopsticks.
AGAINST a generous half plateful of coleslaw or shredded cabbage, arrange sliced cutlets as if whole. Garnish with lemon if desired.
POUR a little of the tonkatsu sauce over the cutlet. Serve extra sauce in a small bowl.
Makes about 1 cup
1 tsp dry mustard powder
3/4 cup tomato sauce
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sake
WHISK together mustard and two teaspoons of water in a small bowl until smooth.
ADD sauces and sake. Whisk together to combine. Serve.