After spending my second day in-country exploring Akihabara, Ginza, and a bit of Harajuku, I decided to dine in Maisen Aoyama Honten, a restaurant famed for its tender tonkatsu.
When I arrived, I was seated at the bar, and I asked the girl behind the counter what the most popular dish on the menu was. She pointed me to the loin cut of the kurobuta (black pig) tonkatsu, so I went with that.
The tonkatsu came with a helping of rice, miso soup, some cabbage, and some ginger slices.
I helped myself to a little ponzu sauce (a citrus-based dark brown Japanese steak sauce) and bit into was easily the most tender tonkatsu I’ve ever eaten. Granted, all the tonkatsu I’ve eaten up until then was in America, so I didn’t really have a Japanese point of reference. This tonkatsu practically melted in my mouth.
I did notice how Maisen Aoyama Honten had more than a few foreign customers; like me, they probably read the Time Out Tokyo guide for Harajuku and came based on that. The same girl behind the counter confirmed it when I asked her about it.
Maisen Aoyama Honten was the fanciest joint I went to in my stay in Japan. While I didn’t order any alcohol, which naturally would’ve driven the price up, I paid only ￥3100, or about US$25, for dinner. This was the single most expensive meal I had in Japan, whereas I feel like it’s a rather normal tab to pay for a restaurant in Boston, excluding alcohol.
Basically, if you want some tonkatsu and happened to find yourself in Harajuku, then you absolutely can’t go wrong with Maisen Aoyama Honten.
The verdict: The tender-est tender tonkatsu I’ve ever eaten