Le Mousso

Le Mousso is a relatively new restaurant in the Village in Montréal. My awesome friend Eva made the reservations and had planned for us to go when I was visiting MTL, and she did not do us wrong! The restaurant is opened by Antoin Mousseau-Rivard, a man with the vision of exploration and experiencing new things. I definitely think Le Mousso is a must-go for all foodies.

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Amuse Bouche

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Saturday Dinette

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On the first day of spring of 2016, although it was -4˚C, it as a beautiful sunny Sunday. So naturally, I wanted to take advantage of the natural light and go brunching. I had been eyeing this brunch spot for the past month, but never really found the time and right schedule to check it out.

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I wanted to order everything on the menu, but I opted to at least try two things. And this was the best decision I’d made in a long time. I ordered the mushroom on toast with a fried egg on top, as well as a kid’s serving of buckwheat pancakes. My friend got a coffee, the beans were from Jimmy’s coffee (Kensington). However, the French presses they used were probably all in poor shape because even after they remade the coffee when we pointed out the coffee grinds floating around, the grinds still persisted in the second batch. Definitely will opt for another beverage option the next time I come, or perhaps none at all.

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Oh, my. The pancakes were absolutely scrumptious. It was slightly crunchy on the outer edges, quite fluffy for being made of buckwheat, and the maple syrup was perfection. Even when the center of the pancake soaked up the maple syrup, the texture was maintained (again, thanks to the buckwheat). Furthermore, the syrup wasn’t revoltingly sweet (as it sometimes can get, at least to me), but instead, the perfect amount of sweetness with an extra kick from the icing sugar sprinkled on top.

The mushroom on toast was quite good as well, the mushrooms carried an earthy flavour and a slight rosemary aroma as well. The texture of the mushrooms was also done well, not too overdone, as can often happen with many dishes like this. Being the egg yolk lunatic I am, I let the whole wheat toast – the foundation of the whole dish – soak up all the yellow yolk. The yolk was underdone and spilled out of its casing when popped with a honey viscosity. It’s a little weird for some people, but this is one of the most mesmerizing things to watch for me. The egg was a little too salty, which was seasoned as it’s just about to be plated. So perhaps next time I will try to ask them to be a little lighter on the salt, but I doubt this will be easily adaptable based on the setting of the kitchen.

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My friend ordered the Little Reuben, with again a perfect fried egg, melted cheese and pork belly inside the toasted two pieces of whole wheat bread. Again, he also remarked that the egg was just a little over-seasoned, but did not ruin the dish in any way.

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Overall, I thought Saturday Dinette was a positively amazing brunch spot. They were quick with seating (perhaps we were lucky, and also we were only 2). The pricing was reasonably affordable for students, which is always a plus. The only thing I wish they could have improved is the coffee, but not everyone is obsessed with coffee like I am, and also there is Boxcar Social just a block south of where SD is, so it would be as easy as walking down to get a cup of good cortado. I definitely recommend this brunch spot and will easily become my #1 in Toronto!

Food: 9/10
Service:4.2/5
Atmosphere: diner, fast-paced, busy, hustle
Price: $15/person

Saturday Dinette Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

~ kehwon

je t’aime, Montréal

It’s so interesting coming back to MTL after several months of moving out of the apartment I’d grown to love after 4 years. I don’t even know where to begin sharing my experience over the last few years, the things I’ve learned, the feelings I’ve felt, the people I’ve met❤

Of course, most of my close friends know how in love I am with this place. Though there are elements that are indescribable, I try to show them my experiences by taking them to the spots I have loved.

Coming back now, I’m visiting old spots and new, and the feeling is both so familiar but so different. Perhaps it’s because of my more care-free life now, no longer a student, but not fully employed.

Here are some spots I’ve visited on my most recent trip:

Dinner at Hoogan + Beaufort, a new restaurant

Cafe Kitsuné, an old favourite

Dinner at Le Mousso

Here’s a sneak peek, but check out the full blog post!

Squid ink pasta on charcoal, Macaron with Caviar, Maple syrup cotton candy with foie gras center
Squid ink pasta on charcoal, Macaron with Caviar, Maple syrup cotton candy with foie gras center

New cafe in McGill metro

It always seems to be my curse that amazing cafés open in places I frequent the most after I move. Having a quick chat with the owner, Bertrand, I learned that they were merely 5 weeks, and pull from all Canadian roasts (and all roasteries and cafés I frequent!): Dispatch from Montréal, Transcend from Edmonton, and De Mello Palheta from Toronto:)

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Lunch at La petite Maison

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Coffee at Dispatch

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Coffee at OSMO

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Breakfast at Panacée

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New Cafe – September Surf Cafe

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Buck15 – of course a must-go for me

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Obviously the whole trip was amazing because I got to experience mtl in the mentality of a graduate, without school work or internship looking down on me. I was able to really feel what it’s like to live inMontréal as an adult. I was also able to see my friends and had some really amazing bonding moments and conversations with them, which was also great.

If anyone wants a personalized itinerary for Montréal, please don’t hesitate to message me!

~ kehwon

 

Tokyo and Kyoto – Part 8 – Day 8 Tousuiro

After having the amazing Shoraian, we wanted to have more tofu kaiseki. This time, we wanted a pure and traditional tofu kaiseki. So we found Tousuiro in the Kiyamachi district, near the Kyoto City Hall, right by the Kamo river.

There are two seating options – either on the balcony overlooking the river for an extra ¥1000, or inside the store. Since we wanted to be a little more money-conscious, we opted to sit inside – it was also a little cooler inside.

We ordered the Machiya-Zen course each for lunch. It came with a variety of presentations of tofu, exactly what we wanted.

First was a simple cold tofu with a smidge of wasabi to go with.

Next was raw tofu (yuba) garnished with a piece of raw radish and served with some dashi sauce.

Tofu served in a thick, chilled broth was next. This dish showcased the versatility of flavour that the tofu can adapt to, given the saltiness and slight sweetness of the broth.

Changing the texture up, we were served several pieces of tempura, and as this is a vegetarian establishment, it was tofu, mushroom, squash, and beans.

After that was a chilled, smooth and cooked tofu served on ice with julienned carrots and shiitake mushrooms. The texture was smooth, and was refreshing in the hot weather we were having in Kyoto.

Last but not least, we were presented with a rice dish in hot broth and what looked like fried rice floating. It was accompanied with some pickled vegetables, again something I really grew to love in Kyoto. This dish reminded me of the chiu chow style congee, where the rice was cooked, but not so much that it melted into the broth. I actually prefer this type of congee because I love the juxtaposition of the thin broth with the slightly chewy rice.

Overall I thought the dishes were quite good, the price wasn’t too expensive, which made sense since most of the food was pre-made and chilled. I thought it provided a good taste of all the various types of tofu preparations, and showed the soy bean’s versatility. However I don’t think it’s a restaurant I would be dying to come back, as there are many other tofu kaiseki’s out there. But for an affordable option, I would definitely recommend it!

Food: 8.3/10
Service: 3/5
Atmosphere: casual, family restaurant, scenic, traditional Japanese
Price: $25CAD

~kehwon

Tokyo and Kyoto – Part 7 – Day 6 Shoraian

Although we didn’t book an upscale traditional kaiseki (perhaps next time) as was seen on some of the eating shows we’ve seen, we decided we’d try a kaiseki at the amazing bamboo forest at Arashiyama.

Tucked away in the forest, the entrance of Shoraian had a Spirited Away feel to me. It was something that might have been noticeable, and I felt that the seemingly endless path to the place of unknown was going to whisk me away to yet another magical place.

We were greeted by the kind owner of Shoraian, who instructed us to take off our shoes and of course showed us to our table. There was just one other table in that room – two Japanese women chattering away.

They had several set-menu, and we ordered the Shofu set, the third in their four-tiered set menus, at ~¥5000 (it is now ¥6300)

First came a simple tofu dish, likely to cleanse the palette and refresh our mouths. The texture of the tofu was slightly gritty, with a slight soy flavour.

The second course was this amazing smorgasbord of various fried delicacies, including shrimp sushi,

Next was a more Western-inspired dish – a mushroom cheese gratin. Not being a huge fan of cheese, I didn’t enjoy this dish too much, as I thought the flavour and smell of the cheese was too overwhelming that I couldn’t taste any of the mushroom. The large amount of heavy cream was also a little off-putting.

The star of the set dinner was the yudofu (湯豆腐). Generally a dish served in the winter time, it is simple unseasoned tofu boiled in a stone pot, and then eaten with soy sauce. I love flavourful food, and dishes with interesting new marriage of flavours you may not have thought of. However, with Japanese cuisine, I’m more of a minimalist. Thus, this dish really enabled me to taste the high quality of the tofu. It was dense, but soft at the same time, packed with soy flavour, providing that slightly grittiness when you let it melt on your tongue, but was so soft and smooth. The texture and surprisingly full flavour is chilling.

Next was some tempura with small shrimp, providing more umami, fatty mouth-feel and colour than the last dish.

Wagyu beef steak was next, cooked to medium rare. I didn’t think this was particularly outstanding, but then again, shoraian was not known for their beef.

The last main dish was rice with pickled vegetables – a staple in most Japanese households. I actually really love pickled vegetables but try not to eat it too often because of some of the negative health benefits it holds when eaten too often. However, the sourness and slight sweetness of the pickles went so well with the fullness of the lightly seasoned rice.

For dessert, we had the most amazing soy milk ice cream and tofu pudding. Again, the soy flavour in the ice cream was amazing, still retaining that slight grittiness, which is something I really enjoy.

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And after our wonderful meal, we went for a stroll back to the bus stop alongside the river. The lights and the calmness of the water flowing was incredible. The whole afternoon and night was as if I had been transported to a different world. The bamboo forest as the crowd had dissipated was magical, as if out of a Disney movie. As the coolness of the night settled in, and there were no more tourists around, it was like we had booked out the area, giving us some proper romantic downtime.

Food: 8.9/10
Service: 4.5/5
Atmosphere: traditional, japanese, tranquil
Cost: ~$50CAD

~ kehwon

Tokyo and Kyoto – Part 9 – Ramen Collective

The most awaited post – RAMEN!!

The one thing you MUST eat at when you visit Japan is ramen. It’s a staple of Japanese food and probably the most popular food you will come across in Japan. There is a store selling ramen at every corner on every block. Last time, we really enjoyed Ippudo’s tonkotsu in Ginza, but this time, we ventured out to try the weird and wonderful and let me tell you, it was absolutely wonderful.

Inoue (井上)

Now for our favourite Tsukiji Market walk-in outdoor ramen joint. We just had our amazing Sushi Dai omakase and we needed a top up so we hit this place up. This place really hits the spot in the spring or fall when it is still a bit chilly outside and you need something to warm you up. Inoue customers devour their ramen huddled over their bowls slurping while standing stooped over a standing table on the sidewalk just outside tsukiji market.

Inoue ramen has only 1 item on the menu, Shoyu Ramen, and opposite to Ichiran, they offer no customization. The way it is served is the way you are meant to enjoy it. It comes piping hot in a clear light brown shoyu broth with a liberal amount of scallion. The noodles are medium thickness and slightly on the softer side of the spectrum, but still firm enough to give you some texture when you bite into them. The broth is light, but has enough flavour from the soy sauce to provide that savoury length. The chashu slice are large, but not seasoned much, so it retains a lot of that pork taste.

Inoue is by no means the best shoyu ramen joint in Tokyo, but it has charm, and it certainly hits the spot every time while visiting tsukiji market. It warms the body and the soul.

Rokurinsha

 

We started off our ramen tour with a bowl of the famous tsuekemen from Rokurinsha. This bustling ramen shop was at the end of Ramen Street in the basement of Tokyo Station. We queued for about 20-30 minutes. The wait couldn’t have felt any longer because you can see and hear the slurping of delicious ramen by the customers inside.

We ordered the ajitama Tsukemen (original tsukemen with a flavoured soft boiled egg) and the Tokusei Tsukemen (Original tsuekemen with shredded pork). Rokurinsha is very thoughtful. They provide customers with a tie around apron because they know there will be splash damage from the ramen as customers slurp their way through their massive bowls of noodles.

The ramen came in 2 separate bowls. One heaping bowl of cold ramen and a bowl of hot ramen soup (or should I say sauce). The noodles were thick, chewy, and hearty. It was perfect in combination with the rich dipping sauce. The sauce had an incredibly hearty taste of meat from the pork and chicken with a blast of seafood umami from the dried sardines, mackerel, and bonito. The almost overpowering sauce was perfectly balanced with those thick noodles which were able to soak up a lot of the sauce but provided that starchy balance to make it a perfect harmony.

Ichiran

 

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I loved Ichiran. Other than their deliciously rich and silky tonkotsu style ramen, the other unique thing about Ichiran is that they limit your interaction with other customers and other staff from little to none. Once you pay for your meal at the vending machine and your are seated, you find yourself in a small cramped one-person cubicle with a narrow window in front of you. The window opens and you are handed a customization form for your ramen. You can choose the firmness of your noodles, how rich the broth is, level of spiciness, and the quantity of the toppings you would like included such as garlic, pork, and scallion. Once ready, you ring the bell, the window is opened by the server on the other side, they grab your form, and again the window is closed. In minutes, the window opens again and your ramen is inserted through it and voila, your meal is served.

The noodles, broth, and other customizations are done to the exact specification that you ordered. The thin type of noodles are my favourite and the normal firmness have enough bounce to make things interesting. The broth is creamy, silky, and rich. I asked for the recommended level of spiciness and found it added a pleasant dimension to the already very flavourful broth. It didn’t overpower the flavour of the tonkotsu broth, but rather complemented it. The chashu was nothing special to write home about, but certainly did not take away from the tasty bowl of ramen.

My quiet, solitary experience was a pleasant one and perfect for a peaceful quick bite to eat in the hustle and bustle of Tokyo.

Kinryu Ramen

 

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Before we headed into Universal Studios, we had to stop at dotonburi (道頓堀) to get both the famous Osaka takoyaki as well as some ramen.

We were a little disappointed in general with the tonkotsu at Kinryu, as the noodles were too soft and soggy, even at the beginning of the day. The broth was meaty but not creamy rich as tonkotsu is known to be, and undecided in what flavour it wants to resonate through. The mouthfeel was fatty, yet lacked the reason to be, and the pork was stale and tough. Although the it had a fancy sign, the ramen was not so fancy.

Gogyo Ramen

 

Umami! Umami! Umami! That’s all I can say.

We were so upset when we first arrived in Kyoto and found this place closed for renovations. But, we were determined to have burnt ramen before we left Japan. So, we decided to give it one last try and on our second last day in Kyoto, they had reopened and we were able to have one of our favourite bowls of ramen in Japan. Karen ordered the Shoyu burnt ramen and I ordered the Miso burnt ramen. Both were similar as the burnt flavour overpowers the other flavours of the broth – not that it’s a bad thing.

By burning the fat on top of the broth, it creates a rich smokey flavour that is unlike any other ramen we’ve tried. If you’ve had David Chang’s momofuku ramen, the smokiness is nothing like that. Momofuku has a more woody, wispy type of smokiness whereas gogyo has a fuller and more intense smoke taste that gives the broth a kick of umami.

The noodles were good, medium thickness, and firm. The meat was fatty and held good flavour. But again, as most ramens do, it was the broth that was the star of the show.

Definitely a must visit if you’re in Kyoto or Tokyo, gogyo gives an interesting twist to ramen culture.

Mamezen Ramen

Mamezen ramen was by far the most amazing ramen we’ve ever had. The reason was simply because although it was radical in ingredient choice, it exceeded the richness and fullness of flavour compared to meat-based broths. The broth was incredibly rich, creamy, and smooth, with an aftertaste of tofu umami.

The noodles were thin but chewy, and the silky broth clung on the noodles as we slurped them with excitement. The yuba (raw skin of tofu) was smooth and thin, the texture complimented the creamy broth extremely well.

They also were one of the most difficult shops to find and track down, snuggled in the residential area of upper Kyoto. When we finally made it to the shop, we were greeted by taro himself, the creator of the silken tofu ramen. He was cheerful and patient with his patrons, getting to know us, chatting with us about the snowy plains of Canada after learning where we were from.

We left after tasting mamezen’s tofu cheesecake, feeling satisfied and accomplished after finding the gem of Kyoto.

We highly recommend the trek to find and enjoy this unique ramen, as it changed the way we saw Japanese soup noodles forever.

-thomas

Tokyo and Kyoto – Part 7 – Day 5 Gyuzen

In efforts to fill all the gaps of trying all types of food Japan is known for, we searched for an affordable place to try wagyu beef. I mean, we couldn’t leave Japan without having some beef! We had done some research and decided that kobe would be saved for the next trip.

Gyuzen was a little difficult to find since we were new to Kyoto’s bearings, having only spent a couple of hours there, and we were a little unprepared as Gogyo (our original dinner plan) had been closed for renovations. Nevertheless, in one of the commercial buildings, we finally set foot in the more traditionally-designed interiors of Gyuzen. Considering its closeness to an equally traditional area, Gyuzen’s interiors gave a great continuation of the traditional streets in Gion.

We decided on the option to have both the shabu shabu (in boiling broth), as well as sukiyaki (grilling on the cast-iron pan with a thicker, slightly sweet sauce).

Regarding the freshness of the food, it was good in terms of all-you-can-eat, but perhaps not of the best quality on a whole. The beef however was extremely tender, melt-in-your-mouth, and fatty, without being overly so. The sauces were just sweet and salty enough to create a great and rich flavour with the beef in the sukiyaki without overpowering the meat and losing all the beefy flavour.

I have to say that the shabu shabu was no big deal, and was a little average, but that’s also because we tend to love hot pot at home, with which we can buy fresher and better quality ingredients. We definitely appreciated that they refilled the shabu shabu with broth as opposed to hot water (as some hot pot places will).

The rest of the food included various vegetables, tofu, other soy-based products, fungi, other types of meat, and so forth.

The service was average, didn’t wow us, but keep in mind, this is an ACYE restaurant. As with all service industry in  Japan, they are always polite.

If you’re looking for some quick, wagyu beef without dishing out too much money, this is definitely a place to look into!

Food: 8.2/10
Service: 3/5
Atmosphere: traditional, casual, cozy
Price: $40CAD

~ kehwon

Tokyo and Kyoto – Part 6 – Day 5 Nishiki Market

When you go to Kyoto, you simply must stop at the Nishiki market; there’s no questions asked. Our advice is to go for lunch, with an empty stomach, do not get doubles for anything – just share every piece.

The market is generally open between 9 – 5, most stores closed on Wednesdays and Sundays. Of course this varies by store, but since we lived close to the Nishiki Market, it wasn’t a big hassle to come back if we wanted to try anything that was closed (which did happen – Gogyo)

In the order of the pictures:

The tamagoyaki (egg roll) was quite good, but I actually liked the one from Sushi Dai better. However it was fun to watch them make it. The tamagoyaki was light in texture and flavour, but unfortunately didn’t wow us.

The baby Octopus had a surprise inside when I bit into it, housing a quail egg in the head. Genius, and a nice snack. It is served cold, still retains that crunch of a just-done octopus, and coated in a sauce that is slightly sweet and sour.

There were numerous stalls with various yaki, mostly made of fish. These were good, but nothing we felt we couldn’t get elsewhere.

If you know me, you know I’m obsessed with sugared donuts. When I saw these soybean donuts I almost cried out and ran for it. Almost. Watching the little machine squirt out the dough into the frying oil was mesmerizing as I tried to count the change to pay for the donuts. It was 600¥ for 6 small donuts, and you can choose what powder you’d like as topping; we chose soybean. They were good, interesting flavour due to the soybean but I still like 沙翁 better…

Fermented vegetables are a staple in Japanese restaurants and homes. We really wanted to buy some but really had no good way of keeping it and bringing it back home so unfortunately we had to skip this. We tasted some and they were so fresh and flavourful, but had richness of fermented flavours at the same time. Over the years I’ve grown to love fermented vegetables, especially the extremely sour ones, so this was definitely a treat.

The highlight and star of the Nishiki market however, was the matcha-hojicha ice cream swirl. Holy. This was the best ice cream I’ve ever tasted in my life. So creamy, and so much matcha.We also learned what hojicha is; a roasted green tea leaf, compared to the unroasted green tea powder, matcha. Even though the cone was a common, buy-it-at-the-conbi type, it was still so delicious. I wanted to get another one but when we returned, they were closed already😦. The store is actually a tea shop, 錦一葉 (ask for Nishiki IchiHa) but it was their icecream that seems to be their most popular item.

Nishiki Market is definitely a place where you can easily blow all your money at. Be wary of the amount of food you get, or you might find yourself low on cash! However, it is a must-visit in our books. Especially the ice cream shop.

Tokyo and Kyoto – Part 5 – Day 4 Konoya Curry Udon

Konoya is in one of those massive mall complexes that are very popular in Asia in general. It is located in the Oazo Building, near Tokyo Station.

We knew we had wanted to try curry udon, but didn’t have much of an idea which to try. We decided to just take a bet at this shop as it had received some good reviews in various sites.

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On the fifth floor of the Oazo building, we finally were able to locate this commercial, after-work spot.

We ordered the set dinner, which came with curry udon and a mixed vegetable tempura. The tempura was absolutely amazing, creating an excellent contrast in texture juxtaposed to the smooth creaminess of the curry udon broth. The curry broth was rich, not too spicy but had enough kick, and salty. Perfectly complementing the chewy udon that we love so much.

Of course we looked very silly with our disposable apron (assumed to be for the protection of the businessmen’s dress shirts from the slurping of the udon), we thought this meal was incredibly well put together, and surprisingly tasty. It was a little more expensive than we would’ve imagined for a restaurant like this, but is overlooked since everything was quite well done.

Food: 8.6/10
Service: 3/5
Atmosphere: fast-food, commercial, mall restaurant
Cost: 3000-4000¥

Tokyo and Kyoto – Part 4 – Day 2 Maisen Tonkatsu

We had tried some Tonkatsu in Hong Kong the last time we were in Asia, but we wanted to have the “real deal” in Tokyo. Maisen is one of the most famous Tonkatsu restaurants, and is known to have massive line-ups. Outside the front of the store, there is permanently pylons and rope outlining a snake line-up.

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We arrived at 11am, when they opened, and we were seated promptly. The restaurant filled up in less than 15 minutes, affirming their popularity.

We ordered the kurobuta (black pig, 黒豚), and the regular tonkatsu. Because we had just finished Bills Omotesando breakfast, we only ordered the set for one of them. In the end, we were so stuffed it was difficult to finish.

The fluffy batter and tenderness of the tonkatsu was something that is difficult to describe, but also something that I still remember well to this day (almost 8 months later). It was so light, and easy to bite into, but still retained that satisfying crunch we seek. The crunchy fresh cabbage on the side went well with the fattiness of the meat. The side dishes were quite interesting, my favourite was the dashi-soaked pureed daikon.

In terms of the difference between the kurobuta and regular, kurobuta is definitely more fatty and tender. However, for my own preference, perhaps because of my profession, I tend to like the regular tonkatsu better. It is too fatty for me, and even though it’s more tender, it just leaves me feeling a little too queasy.

We were glad we didn’t have to wait in line for Maisen, and would definitely recommend this to our friends and family. I would also try their curry katsu next time as well.

Food: 8.9/10
Service: 4/5
Atmosphere: Traditional, quiet, white table cloth
Cost: ~5000¥ total