Friday, August 14, 2009

Marushige, Kanda (丸重)



Today felt like a vegetable day, then a meat day, and finally, by the time I left the office, I knew it was going to be a Fried Meat day. And since I somewhat disdain lesser fried meats like mince-katsu, that usually means tonkatsu (not that it's that often). After wavering a little between Yaesu and the usual, I went up toward the usual - east-side Kanda.

It was actually not that easy to find a place. I try to avoid the places that have a mishmash of things from tonkatsu to sashimi to chicken; figure it's better if they focus. And at last I noticed this grubby old place that had the special patina only years of deep-frying can give (though I don't recommend it as an aging treatment if you're young and trying to make people believe your ID is real).

Maruju has great atmosphere. When you open the door, there's no one there to greet you, just a sign saying 'Tempura this way, Tonkatsu that way'. It's exactly that - one floor of each in a duplex building. Not sure if it's two restaurants, but it's certainly two different masters, and they both welcome you from their respective counters when you enter.

The food, like the brown walls and vintage posters, is unashamedly retro. I had a nice big katsu ('Pine' size, but nothing to do with the size of eel boxes) that was excellent, sweet, juicy meat, and somehow the fry coating managed to integrate batter and breadcrumbs in a delightful way that gave it a faint (and tantalizing) hint of fried chicken. Yum. A big bowl of soup was tonjiru (i.e. miso soup but with wedges of daikon and carrot and pieces of bacon), the rice was to be topped with an open bowl of furikake on the table, and the tea was green. I like their sauce, which probably means it's sweeter than most. What can I say, I like sugar! The pickles were idiosyncratic - they came in cylindrical metal bowls, on a tray, one per table. In addition to the standard napa cabbage pickles, there was some other white thing pickled in wasabi and sake lees. The waitress will be impressed if you know what this is, and she'll go tell the other waitress and the master, and they'll all peer surreptitiously at you for a while until you growl like the exotic and endangered animal you are (at least in east-side Kanda) and go back to chewing your fresh-killed pork.


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