I've always seen katsu as a snack; Japanese fried foods you pick up at the food basement hall to nibble on while you wander around the upper levels of some mall. Katsu never really featured as a main course, when I think of Japanese cuisine. Tonkatsu by Ma Maison, a katsu-centric restaurant serving just katsu sets, serves to dispel that assumption. Simply by staying in business, whilst situated right smack in the middle of Orchard Road, for the past decade or so. That's no mean feat in the highly volatile F&B industry.
Notwithstanding that there's little competition amongst katsu restaurants in Singapore, Ma Maison does serve up the most exquisite katsu around. Wonderfully luscious meats encased in a delightfully crunchy panko crust and deep-fried to perfection. For something that's deep-fried, Ma Maison finesses a lightness that's consummate. It's not to say that it's the best I've ever had (that accolade goes to that katsu shop in the depachika of Ginza Mitsukoshi), but I can certainly understand the premium price points of Ma Maison.
Most of the dishes in Ma Maison are set-based (with rice, pickles, miso soup, cabbage, and dessert), with a limited number of foods that are offered as sides, like the Ebi ($5.80 ea) and Crab Croquette ($5.80 ea). The ebi prawn was excellent, succulent and juicy, while the crab was creamy and nuanced in its sweetness.
A seasonal special, the Kagoshima Kurobuta Pork Katsu Set ($36.80) was fantastic. The pork was beautifully marbled and there was a clarity in flavour that was so refreshing. We swopped out the white rice with multigrain rice, which was delicious.
We also had the Katsu Don ($21.80), of a deep-fried pork loin scrambled with egg and onions in a soy-sake broth, and blanketed over white rice. Hearty and refined and scrumptious.
A simple finisher of fruit jelly that was well-balanced.
Tonkatsu by Ma Maison
333A Orchard Road
Mandarin Gallery #02-35
Tel: 6733 4541
Open weekdays from 11am to 2.30pm for lunch; 5.30pm to 10pm for dinner;
weekends from 11am to 10pm