Tokyo Table Trip

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All great restaurants in Japan that accept only walk-ins have the longest queue in the world: especially the famous one. Although, some places implement a 2-tier ticketing system that customers can use to come in the morning and come back at a specified time slot. The wait could be 1-3 hours, but that’s nothing unexpected for Japan. I recall an anecdote of a Japanese couple meeting by chance while waiting to get into a famous oyakodon in Tokyo. They got married after getting to know each other during the queuing, and even subsequently invited the restaurant owner to their wedding anniversary to reminisce where they met.

Now, the famed Narikura even have internet booking via Omakase, whose seats were snapped within minutes. Many foreigners would scratch their heads and wonder why it’s so difficult just to eat a good Tonkatsu; All I could say is that it’s better than waiting for hours just to find out the meal is sold out before your turn in the queue.

Would it be possible to find a great restaurant with no queue? It’s quite impossible in the age of ubiquitous information. A hidden gem is quickly discovered. Unbeaten paths are so quickly conquered by avid foodies these days.

Last year, tonkatsu fans were taken by sad surprise with the abrupt closure of Maruyama Kippei in Taito due to an unexpected accident, and that the chef at Maruyama Kippei had been hospitalized. Much to my regret, I searched and searched for another tonkatsu restaurant, but couldn’t help missing the golden brown deep-fried tonkatsu.

The good news is the owner recovered. Maruyama Kippei commenced by the end of last month at the new location; a stone throw from Kanda JR station and about 1.3 km south of the original location, which was subsequently taken over by Tonkatsu Aoki. It seems that this neighborhood is rather quiet during weekends. I rushed to the new address to discover the saying, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Much to my surprise, there was no queue at all. I pondered if this could be a warning sign as Japanese diners are known for their devotion.

The ambiance had changed, and it seemed that the chef was mellowed down. When I walked in, he graced my friend and me with a warm welcome. He is now very friendly and open. There are two kind ladies and another gentleman who help him out in the kitchen.

I picked Loin from the ticket machine so I can taste it while my friend ordered rib. At dinner time, rice isn’t included, so you need to buy a ticket for your rice. The ticket machine is quite loud and plays a melody during the ordering process, unlike the old location where I could almost hear a pin drop.

When my tonkatsu arrived, it was so crisp. The crust was golden brown from deep frying at a high temperature. This is the main difference when comparing it with the one served at Narikura, which is fried at low heat. Hence, the crust there is both light and elegant, which could be described as feminine, whereas Maruyama kippei’s style is quite macho and bold with flavor.

At first bite, the pork is packed with deep umami flavor. The juice from each bite is extremely flavorful. The chef must have spent a lot of time thinking and reflecting during his sabbatical leave. My verdict is that Maruyama Kippei is still my favorite tonkatsu, and the pork is one of the best, if not the best.

Some diners might fear consuming too much fat. Not all types of fat are the same. Most of the time, fat at many tonkatsu restaurants is so greasy, and it clouds my palate. It takes hours, as fat can’t be washed away easily by drinking water alone. I felt the pork here is of the highest quality and must have been fed with good feedstock. It’s so flavorful, yet washed down easily after drinking some water. I could feel the refreshing taste of the cabbage after having tonkatsu. One example of the fat myth is fish oil. Not all fishes are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids. Wild salmon, yes, but farmed salmon, not really. Take farmed Tilapia for another example; it’s loaded with saturated fat.

A lunch featuring loin, which comes with rice, costs 1,300 yen. A 200-gram meal costs 1,600 yen. All other menu items cost pretty much the same. I would recommend 200 grams for any regular dinner.

At this location, the owner introduced fried aji and pork shabushabu as part of a new menu. Pork shabushabu has to be reserved for a minimum of two guests. Reservation to be made in-store at least five days in advance. Pork shabushabu’s price starts at 8,000 yen, which is even more expensive than some beef shabushabu. The owner is quite confident of his pork shabushabu, so I hope to try it during my next visit.

I really hope Maruyama Kippei will soon be a great success at the new address. It would serve as an inspiration for anyone who thinks they are in despair and hopeless. I’m happy to see that the chef rose back with his spirit and is thriving. During his sabbatical, he even said he dreamt of frying tonkatsu. For all tonkatsu fans, this would be a window of opportunity to try high-level tonkatsu without spending hours in the queue or competing online to book a seat. You can waltz in and get a seat right away, at least for now. After they iron out all the kinks of a newly-open restaurant, it will be one of the top tonkatsu restaurants, which might not be easy to visit, so before the word spreads, it is a good idea for TTT readers to be ahead of the crowd.

◆Maruyama Kippei
29 Kanda Tomiyamachō, Chiyoda City, Tōkyō-to 101-0043, Japan
Opening hours:
Wed-Fri 11.00–14.00, 17.00–20.00
Sun 11.00–15.00
The last order is 10 minutes before the closing time of each round.

Maruyama Kippei is on Facebook. You can check for updates on their opening hours and holidays.

Writer:Localtaste

Local taste had taken a long journey searching for delicious meals long before the dawn of social media, roaming from one city to another from the Far East to the west, over 160 cities in four continents and more than 400,000 miles during the last 37 years.
His dining spots over thousands of restaurants range from eating in a hole in the wall in Asia to all ten Michelin 3-star restaurants in Paris. More than decades was spent on chasing for perfect xiao long bao.
Because he is not in food business nor food writer, his article won’t be found elsewhere but exclusively on tokyotabletrip.com as a tribute to Leo Saito’s altruistic deed to help international visitors discover the beauty of Japanese cuisine.

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guest

hi saito san and everyone, as i am planning to visit to marayuma kippei in february, i would like to make clear of something because from reading all the comments here it is really quite confusing.

as i will be going for lunch (on a weekday), will i be able to order the most premium and best meat that this restaurant has to offer?

according to localtaste menu picture below, it seems like it is only for weekday lunch menu, does that mean that is all there is to order for people that go on a weekday lunch?

lastly, what is the best/most premium type of tonkatsu that can be ordered here that is not overly fatty? (i see a lot of types of "rib" menu being mentioned by saito-san etc. but no idea what the difference of those are).

thank you very much

8 months ago

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Leo Saito

chief editor, TokyoTableTrip

It is possible to order premium meat at lunchtime.
The premium meats are the HANA Rib Roast (5,000 yen), Kippei Rib Roast (3,900 yen), and Maruyama Rib Roast (3,900 yen). However, all three of these meats are rather fatty, so I would personally recommend 300g Rib Roast (3,000 yen) or 250g Rib Roast (2,500 yen). The tonkatsu here is best eaten with wasabi and salt, so don't forget to also order Wasabi (50 yen).

8 months ago
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localtaste

Here’s the link to their Facebook page so you can check opening time before you visit. Thanks to @Terrence for the opening hour alert. https://www.facebook.com/maruyamakippei/

8 months ago
Eab8dbbd 6732 4948 b852 ca447c818547

localtaste

@guest May I ask where u are from or what’s your cut preference? For diners from certain countries, I noticed their cut preference differs eg North American or European likes different cuts, comparing to the local people.

8 months ago
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Shi

I'm quite intrigued to hear about regional differences regarding preferred cuts @localtaste if you don't mind elaborating, quite interesting!

8 months ago
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guest

thank you for your replies saito san and @localtaste.

@saito san, so the premium meats menu list that you wrote are not at all in the menu picture that localtaste sent right? would they still be available to select on the machine in english? Also to be honest still quite confused as to what the differences are between 300g Rib Roast compared to all the other types of Rib Roast that you sent. thank you for the tip regarding to order wasabi.

@localtaste I usually prefer cuts that are leaner but with small amounts of fat (not completely without fats). do you suggest the same as saito san? order Rib Roast 300g or 250g?

8 months ago
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localtaste

@shi In general, people from north America like the US or Canada would prefer leaner pork. Their ham is quite lean. At most, they got pork chop, never the fatty part.

People in Europe are more diverse. In Germany, just look at their Schweineschnitzel, which is made from leaner pork. I know some people might say how about pork knuckle. In Bavaria, Schweinshaxe is loved by the local with beer. But it’s fried and the fat becomes so crisp. In Wien, they just use veal for the schnitzel, not pork at all.

In Italy, up north like Milan, Costolette Di Maiale Alla Milanese is cooked with leaner pork. In Parma, their ham starts to have some fatty part. In Toscana, Arista di Maiale Florence is less fatty, comparing to Porchetta in Rome. (Not to be confused with Pancetta. In classic Roman dish, carbonara got guanciale, cured pork jowl is also quite fatty. (Any respecatble Italian chef will be quite perplexed if someone uses bacon instead.).

In Spain, most pork are cured eg Jamón. It’s pretty much as fattiest as a Spanish would go, minus Cochinillo in Segovia. You can see the fatty pork is mostly cured meat.

For Chinese, Cantonese would get less fatty part, comparing to Zhejiang (think 東坡肉 ) or 豆油肉 (In Teochew, Fujian, or Taiwan.)

For Korean, it’s usual to enjoy pork with fat. Eg 보쌈, most American would pass out just to see the dish.

This is why I asked where the person who asked comes from. For someone from the US, I would suggest terderlion. For Korean, I would suggest hana rib roast. The more info, I could guess what u would prefer.

8 months ago
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localtaste

@guest when Saito san suggests anything, it’s like a diagnose by Dr Fitzpatrick, no med student in dermatology would suggest otherwise.

However, your inquiry is not an easy one. From two pics, which one does it look like a better fit?

8 months ago
Blackglasses1

Menchikatsu

Adding on to the extensive breakdown of pork cuts by localtaste, I have an interesting one. A relative of mine, I've taken them to places like Narikura and elsewhere. Said Maisen was by far their favorite. Very sensitive to the smell of pork, and gags when walking by a tonkotsu ramen shop. They prefer the 'loin' cut for tonkatsu. That said, although they avoid eating fat, and stick to lean meat, says they love Italian lardo. People can be baffling to figure out sometimes. This type of person, rather than skip a fatty cut of meat entirely, might order it for the superior taste of the cut, but remove the fat.

8 months ago
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Shi

@localtaste thank you so much for that analysis of regional preferences it was quite insightful and as expected very interesting! I've grown to appreciate fattier cuts though being from America/Canada with ancestry connecting to Hong Kong (father) and Taiwan (mother) have been exposed to a lot of different flavors over the years visiting the homelands.

8 months ago
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localtaste

@Menchikatsu your relative preference is similar to the Italian’s and the Spanish’s then. In line with my earlier observation, pork wih fatty part there are cured. Lardo is a type of salumi, made from curing backfat and is consumed by thin fine slice.

@shi people growing up in North America got used to consuming lean cut of pork, except pork crackling in certain area. 脆皮烧肉 was probably the fattiest one for most HK people. In Taiwan, i liked going to shi Lin night market to enjoy my pork steak. I saw 豆油肉 and it was close to what they cook in Fujian and Teochiew. Still, all of the above aren’t close to the pork belly pyramid in Zhejiang.

Have you tried pig blood? It’s common in Taiwan, Vietnam, and Southern China. In Napoli, their local dessert ‘ sanguinaccio’ is made from pig blood.

8 months ago
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Shi

@localtaste Indeed, to be honest I tend to shy away from a lot of pork in the states because it tends to be too lean for my tastes. I do enjoy both 脆皮烧肉 and 豆油肉 quite a bit. In fact one of my favourite dishes is 滷肉饭 from Taiwan as I find it very comforting.

I have tried pigs blood in Taiwan and I enjoy it and surprisingly my wife (Born and raised in the states) fell in love with it as well! I've never had a chance to try sanguinaccio but would be quite curious to give it a shot!

Also as we live in the "Korea town" part of our city I do get to enjoy some Korean iterations of pork dishes from time to time which I like as well. My go to these days has been bossam when we dine out at a Korean restaurant that offers it!

8 months ago
Blackglasses1

Menchikatsu

While I like eating pork blood a lot, in rice noodle soup (Guilin, Yunnan, HK cart noodles, etc), I think duck blood is starting to get more popular. @localtaste and shi
Kinda off topic, but I really like the blood sausage called morcilla.

Regarding @guest's decision, I sometimes think the topic of pork butchery can be confusing in its cuts. But thinking in terms of beef and steak, its easier to visualize cuts based on their fat decadence. And maybe you can apply the following thought to pork, from top to bottom in fattiness:
Short rib (before the fat is rendered away)
Brisket (like Texas bbq)
Ribeye/bone-in rib steak/prime rib (lots of fat, but easy to cut around)
Porterhouse
Filet mignon
Skirt
Shoulder/chuck/any ultra lean cuts of meat without fat interlacing it.
Wagyu obviously changes things a lot, versus black Angus cattle.

If it were at all possible, I would hope @guest could go with a friend, and try 2 choices.

8 months ago
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localtaste

@menchikatsu if u like morcilla, you should also try Sundae (순대.)

8 months ago
Blackglasses1

Menchikatsu

I've encountered sundae a few times, with Korean friends. All blood sausages have a unique taste don't they?

Another pig's blood dish I like is Thai 'boat noodles'. The Italian blood dessert you mentioned sounds like a really daring and new idea to me.

8 months ago
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guest

@localtaste honestly for me this is all still quite confusing and I still don't know exactly how/what to order at this restaurant. from the two photos you sent side by side, i guess the one on the right looks more appealing to me (the photo that can see the yellow mustard on the plate).

8 months ago
Eab8dbbd 6732 4948 b852 ca447c818547

localtaste

@guest I was also thinking you probably prefer the one on the right. I think u should go with your gut feeling on the cut you prefer. Personally, I think Maruyama Kippei’s cut with fat is pretty good. But if u scroll down, tanse away would also prefer leaner cut so I don’t suggest going against your preferred cut.

You can just show the lady there the pic you wanted and say ‘one’ for one ticket. (You can save my picture or download from google map. They can speak simple English.

You can also choose Japanese language menu on the ticket machine and use google translate from your cell phone. But I think the best way is just show them the picture and they can help you at the ticket machine.

I downloaded these two pics from google map. The thick one looks very nice too if u like red meat and medium rare.

Next time I visit, I will snap the pic from the Japanese menu in the ticket machine for comparison.

8 months ago

Terence

If anyone is planning to go to Maruyama Kippei for dinner, check Google Maps and Facebook before you go. I realized yesterday that they actually stopped serving dinner this month after looking on Google Maps and confirming on their Facebook page.

8 months ago

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localtaste

Thank u for the update. Fortunately, u checked opening hour again before u go. For walk in restaurants like tonkatsu or ramen, it’s best to recheck again before going.

Maruyama kippei is facing staff shortage situation.

8 months ago

guest

Do they have an English menu, and is it cash only?

If the menu is Japanese only, can someone recommend a dish to me so I can recognize the characters? I'd like premium fatty pork.

8 months ago

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Shi

some google investigating seemed to indicate english was available on the updated ticket machine but as I have no first hand experience I'd defer to @localtaste or @saitoさん

8 months ago
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guest

The ticket machine has english menu on it. I believe it is cash only as you get your tickets by slotting cash into the machine like most ramen restaurants.

I have the belly rib roast which was very fatty to me in ky opinion.

8 months ago
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guest

My*

8 months ago
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localtaste

@guest cash only. I’ve taken this photo from their ticket machine for u.

8 months ago
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guest

@localtaste wow thank you! That response was above and beyond! :)

8 months ago

localtaste

Maruyama Kippei is updating its holiday this year. Their holiday will be Sun and Mon instead. Sometimes, they might open on Sunday and would announce so on their Facebook page.

9 months ago

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Shi

Thanks so much for the update @localtaste

9 months ago

guest

Have anyone try the expensive cuts at the place? Is it worth the money or should i just stick to their lunch deal. Thank you.

10 months ago

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Leo Saito

chief editor, TokyoTableTrip

If you are going out of your way to visit, I don't recommend the lunch menu. I absolutely recommend the rib roast.

10 months ago
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Eric Yu

The Pursuit of Food Perfection | https://thepursuitoffoodperfection.wordpress.com

@Saito - I believe you can get the Rib Roast at lunch too (or I did atleast), or are you saying the meat quality is not as good at lunch?

10 months ago
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guest

@leo saito for the rib roast, is it the Maruyama or Kippei things on the machine?

10 months ago
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Leo Saito

chief editor, TokyoTableTrip

Both the Maruyama Rib Roast and Kippei Rib Roast use meat that has quite a lot of fatty parts, so for first time visitors I recommend choosing something like the Rib Roast 250g.

10 months ago
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Leo Saito

chief editor, TokyoTableTrip

@Eric
It is thought that the slightly cheaper "roast meal" and "filet meal", offered only during lunch on weekdays, use lower ranking meat than the usual menu items (such as "rib roast" and "Bo filet").

10 months ago
Blackglasses1

Menchikatsu

That is some very good insider tips on choosing the right thing.

10 months ago

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