Thursday, May 26, 2011

Margaux tonkatsu, Akihabara (丸五)


Ominous, the sky. I was heading up to Akihabara to buy a radioactive giant saber-toothed turtle action figure (Americans make the wierdest requests of people coming home on vacation) and figured I'd combine it with lunch.

I also combined it with a picture of the 'Loving Hut' truck, which is just like that Natural Hand place, only it's a restaurant chain run by religious zealots.

No religious zealot would want to be within 100 yards of Margaux (it's 丸五, but I somehow not you're going to let me slide. I'm hoping people looking for killer pork-stewed-in-Bordeaux recipes will accidentally stumble on this.). The twin smells of pork and fry permeate the neighborhood.

Enter the restaurant. Sit at the burnished wood counter, glowing with the polish of countless post-tonkatsu cleanings. (That was today's Kleindl moment right there.)

You'll be in good company - the executive looking at his watch and waiting to eat at speed, the hip designer who contemplates his meal like a modern graphic, the retired boxer quietly sipping gently-warmed sake and whiling away the afternoon.

The counter will present its own distractions. A quality tonkatsu restaurant will offer you a selection of fine salt, a ramekin of pickles, a beaker of velvety sauce...and a small jewel case of combustible Japanese mustard. These are all present and accounted for.
[Eek, I'm going the Full Kleindl here, aren't I.]
Getting back to reality, this is a decent katsu. I ordered tanpin, which meant I was able to forgo rice and soup and save Y400 and some carbs - good deal as far as I'm concerned. The meat is the thing here. Once in a while people will talk about the 'sweetness of pork', and this, I think, is why. However they pre-cut the meat, and the fry is lackluster. So the meat is wonderful, but it's a mystery to me why this should be ranked the same as Yamaichi on the Tabelogz (#9, #10 in Tokyo). You could warm up with this place, but once you understand the genre enough to be ready for the big leagues, that's your stadium.

This place is a national treasure though. It's so famous, and so well-regarded, that they actually don't like foreigners to find out about it. When I came out, the black-van boys were already waiting. I confess I was nervous as I took this picture, and pedaled away as fast as I could.

Journalistic integrity, all that.
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