We were in Greenbelt 5 one Saturday and decided to drop by Maisen, known as one of Japan's famous katsu chains, to try their fare.
Place: The style is nice, classy. We like the logo very much. But the place is too small, cramped.
Food: We ordered the Kurobuta Tenderloin Set (Php 630) so we could try the restaurant's Special Sauce. The set comes with a bowl of miso soup, a bowl of rice, a small plate of pickled cucumber and pechay, shredded cabbage, and a fruit bowl (pineapple and watermelon).
The miso soup is OK, although it is less warm than expected. The rice is of high quality. The cabbage is crisp and fresh. The shredded vegetable can be flavored with either a creamy Sesame dressing (the sesame flavor is there but not pronounced enough and it has an acidic background) or a Sesame oil kind (the sesame flavor of this dressing is a tad too subtle). The pickled cucumber is good, while the pickled greens give a surprising kick. The pineapple is juicy and DELICIOUS! The watermelon is sweet and not too watery.
Now for the main feature: the Kurobuta (Berkshire pork known for its juiciness and tenderness and dubbed as the wagyu of pork) pieces are coated with light panko and are fried perfectly, golden and not oily. And because the pork is tenderloin, it is soft and has almost no fat. the pork katsu. Its light breading adds just the right amount of crunch. The Special Sauce is Maisen's Karakuchi (Spicy) sauce mixed with grated apples. It has a distinct, weird, cola taste, like Pepsi is mixed into it. It's also a little too sharp. Good thing the grated apple tempers this sharpness.
Aside from the Special Sauce that comes with the set, there are two other sauces found on the dining table that are free: the Amakuchi (Sweet), which is sweet and whose flavor is closer to that of the traditional tonkatsu sauce, and the aforementioned Karakuchi, which, according to our server, has Worcestershire sauce and that weird Pepsi undertone. We find the latter a tad too sharp to be enjoyed.
In addition to the sauces, there's also a bottle of Spice Salt on the table. It's Himalayan salt with herbs. We find its flavors too strong that we choose not to add some to our food, considering the dishes are not bland anyway.
Another set we ordered was the Katsumabushi Set (Php 390). It has Tenderloin Katsu chops (not Kurobuta), nestling on top of white rice that has nori strips. It comes with dashi (broth), Onsen Tamago (egg cooked slowly in low temperature), some wasabi, sesame seeds, green onions, a small plate of pickled vegetables, and a fruit bowl (pineapple and watermelon).
The Kastumabushi can be eaten straight (just the katsu and rice) or one can put some of the rice and the pork in the small bowl provided, then add some dashi and egg to have a kind of do-it-yourself katsudon. The mixture becomes more flavorful when one seasons it with the wasabi, sesame seeds, and green onions.
There is no big or significant difference between the ordinary Tenderloin and the Kurobuta Tenderloin; the latter is just more tender by half a notch. Taste wise, not much difference.
For drinks, we had some house tea. We tried both the cold and hot versions. The green tea flavor is pronounced on the hot one. We find the cold tea more delicious, with its subtle yet still earthy taste.
Price: Considering serving size and the ordinary taste, we find the food overpriced.
Service: The servers need more training. They had trouble communicating effectively. Also, waiting time went beyond the acceptable 15 minutes.
Based on our first try, well, we wouldn't mind not coming back to this place.
Maisen is at Greenbelt 5, Makati City.
For more information about their food, click here.