This Tokyo institution opened in 1965 in an old bathhouse and is still going strong, serving tonkatsu (pork cutlet) to an endless stream of diners. The restaurant now has three dining rooms and a takeaway counter, and even on Tuesday lunchtime there was a queue of people waiting to be seated. Though local connoisseurs prefer the tonkatsu at Butagumi, Maisen is clearly very popular, and offers some seafood alternatives to those who do not eat pork.
Kurobuta pork is the speciality of the house, a black pig bred in Kagoshima prefecture in Kyushu. Ironically this breed of pig actually originates from Berkshire, and was brought to Japan in the 19th century. The pork here, from Okita farm, is pounded and tenderised into cutlets, then coated in panko breadcrumbs before being deep-fried in sunflower oil. It was very good, the pork tender, the breadcrumb coating even and not greasy. This was served with shredded cabbage and a tonkatsu sauce (reminiscent of a barbecue sauce) prepared daily at the restaurant (13/20). Prawns were served in the same way, carefully cooked and also very enjoyable (13/20).
The waitresses were friendly, and for such a traditional place it was interesting that they took the orders on tablet computers, and had microphones and earpieces to communicate with managers. There was a loyalty card for regulars, a sort of frequent fryer miles. The bill came to ¥2,650 (£18) per person, with beer to drink.