Maisen Tonkatsu in Tokyo Station, Tokyo.

May 2016.

In our continuing quest to expand our understanding of Japanese cuisine, we identified tonkatsu as promising because it involves pork, panko, deep frying, and a savoury sauce. Various sources identified this chain, its main branch located on the 12th floor of the spectacular Daimaru department store connected to Tokyo Station.

The station to begin with is one of the most massive, complicated, and bewildering of many Tokyo train-and-subway stations associated with what we would call a mall, in some cases several malls accreting into what must in every case have been an enormous financial and construction monster however many years ago. At any rate part of this station is a 12 storey world-class department store, the top floor of which is dedicated to restaurants.

Maisen is a medium-sized operation easily accessed (once you figure out that it’s on the 12th floor of the department store) and quite happy to receive us for lunch at about 1145 on a Mother’s Day Sunday. We sat in a small alcove with two other tables and perused the menu, pictorial as they always are in Japan, overwhelmingly comprising deep-fried pork.

We ordered little pork dumplings which came steamed in a standard bamboo container, simply served with soya sauce. These were satisfying and nicely cooked, but nothing to write home about considering the sui mai we’ve had a hundred times chez nous. The pork came accompanied with finely shredded cabbage, and it was flawlessly deep-fried and delicious with an accompanying sweet tomato-vinegar sauce. The slaw surprised me by being very tasty with its sour dressing too, and there was a tiny bit of pickled veg that made a nice contrast.

By Japanese and other famous cuisine standards this is pretty simple food, but it was perfectly prepared and the condiments which I presume were traditional were just lovely. I’m not sure it was superior to your fundamental schnitzel treatment, but no complaints, and a reasonable C$60 or so with two glasses of beer.

Food 8.3, service 8.5, ambience 8.2, value 8.7.

About John Sloan

John Sloan is a senior academic physician in the Department of Family Practice at the University of British Columbia, and has spent most of his 40 years' practice caring for the frail elderly in Vancouver. He is the author of "A Bitter Pill: How the Medical System is Failing the Elderly", published in 2009 by Greystone Books. His innovative primary care practice for the frail elderly has been adopted by Vancouver Coastal Health and is expanding. Dr. Sloan lectures throughout North America on care of the elderly.
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