The grilled unagi and kushikatsu are sure to be favorites at Maisen BGC
The newest branch has a full bar with refreshing signature cocktails.
Shangri-La at The Fort, 30th Street corner 5th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City
Open daily from 11 a.m. to 12 a.m.
(SPOT.ph) One of Japan's top katsu chains finds another home in BGC. Maisen's fourth branch is now part of the expanding row of restaurants in Shangri-La at The Fort.
"The collaboration between Maisen Japan and Maisen Philippines is 50-50. We tried to find out which dishes the local palate would say yes to. This new menu is what we came up with, but we're still developing more items," Executive Chef Juni Silva tells us.
The result is an appetizing lineup exclusive to the BGC branch. This extension to their main menu includes, as Chef Juni says, "a little bit of everything"—sobas, udons, sausages, cold cuts, gyoza, you name it.
The Shio Pork (P270) is Maisen's take on the Korean samgyeopsal. The pork loin, with a very straightforward flavor, is lightly seasoned and cooked in sake. It's served with vegetables and Japanese kimuchi, which is a sweeter version of the Korean kimchi. Have it as it is or wrap it in lettuce. Either way, it's a win.
Oshi Meshi Unagi
The Oshi Meshi Unagi (P430) marries smoky and sweet hints in its alternating layers of unagi and rice. The grilled eel on top is beautifully glazed and charred, and the seafood taste is nothing but clean.
Vegetable Kushi Katsu
Since the new branch has a full bar, the team thought it fitting to add a selection of kushi katsus to the lineup. These breaded munchies on a stick come in meat, seafood, and vegetable varieties. The Vegetable Kushi Katsu (P200), in particular, is a set that includes shiitake and minced pork, young corn, and cherry tomatoes wrapped in bacon.
These new offerings are not the only reasons to visit the BGC branch. They also take pride in serving bestsellers their patrons have come to love since Maisen opened in the country in 2015.
Kurobuta Loin Set
Take, for example, the Kurobuta Loin Set (P350 to P380), which comes with rice, cabbage, pickled vegetables, miso soup, and lychee jelly. The pork loin is wrapped in golden Japanese panko, which is made from scratch at Maisen's commissary. There, they bake their own bread and wait until it's ready to go through a machine that crushes and shreds it to fine pieces.
The end product is their signature breadcrumb, which has its own distinct flavor that enhances the taste of the juicy meat. Since the panko is so light (and not to mention never greasy), it doesn't prick the roof of the mouth. Instead, it dissolves after giving you the necessary crunch per bite. But the experience doesn't end there. The set comes with a special sauce made from grated Fuji apples, and it adds a pleasurable sweet and tarty kick.
Another crowd favorite, the Katsumabushi Set (P390) is a whole lot of fun to eat. Bite-sized tenderloin katsu chops sit on top of a generous serving of rice, while on the side you have tamago, dashi, garnishes, and lychee jelly. There's no strict way of gorging on this elaborate serving. "Everything is up to you," Chef Juni tells us. There’s a bowl and a spatula, so the guest can scoop smaller portions and start mixing and matching. Try this dish in different ways: with stock for a congee-like mouth feel, without stock, with wasabi, the list goes on.
Chef Juni's personal favorite, the Kurobuta Kakuni (P250), "is a luxury," he describes. The pork belly is slow-cooked for four hours in mirin-based sauce, and the outcome is a glorious bowl of melt-in-your-mouth pork with an unforgettably comforting and warm savory-sweet broth.
Delight on these new and old dishes while taking sips of Maisen BGC’s signature cocktails. As the first-ever Maisen outlet to have a full bar, the team did some serious work under the supervision of cocktail expert Takao Oda of Bar Oda in Osaka, Japan.
Original Moscow Mule
The Original Moscow Mule (P290) is basically ginger vodka and ginger ale. The ginger is soaked for about a month, resulting in a cleaner and smoother taste. The White Lady (P250), on the other hand, is a gin-based drink that is shaken, poured, and finished off by brushing grated lemon zest on top.
The Saketini (P480) is a twist to the classic martini. The sake- and gin-based drink uses lemon instead of olives. The Japanese Kakuhai (P250), meanwhile, was made famous in late 19th Century Japan and is a strong mix of Suntory Kakubin Whisky and soda water.
Classic cocktails, Japanese whiskies, sakes, and more make up the rest of the drinks list. Chef Juni shares they're also exploring the addition of French wines, draft beers, and green tea liqueurs to their selection.
It looks like the Maisen Philippines team isn’t taking any breaks. For now, though, their efforts appear worthy of a drink and a bit of celebrating.
Photos by Hans Fausto