Dinner at Ginza Bairin, ION

We always walked past this little restaurant in the Ion basement because it is just one more Japanese restaurant among a whole host of japanese restaurants in the basement and it looked quite nondescript – neither specializing in ramen or katsu or anything really.

They have these little wax models of their katsu outside the shop that show cheese oozing out of the pork (sorta like chicken cordon bleu) and so we decided to try this restaurant one day when we were out of ideas in Ion and just wanted a quick bite.

It’s actually a pretty great restaurant! No frills, nothing really special that you can put your finger on, but I would still come back.

I had the tonkotsu ramen – really liked the soup base which was “clean” tasting, i.e. no floating bits of lard everywhere but it was the right level of milkiness, sweetness, and depth. The noodles were springy but not too eggy, and the cha shu, while not what I would describe as melt-in-your-mouth, was pretty decent. I like lean meat in this case (when it’s the roulade type of char shu. Toroniku style cha shu has got to have the fats!) so I’m definitely not representative. The ajitsuke tamago was satisfactory.

We actually ordered the cheese stuffed croquette with rice but they got the order wrong. Oh well – there is a general lack of manpower in the food service industry nowadays I hear so I wouldn’t have too high expectations of wait staff in this kind of restaurants. The cheese stuffed pork katsu we were served instead (their signature I think) was really good! Lots of cheese oozing out of the pork, almost like a lava cake but not that liquid, and the panko style batter was really nice as well.

The food here is really affordable and there are usually lots of seats so it’s a pretty good alternative to monster curry since monster curry typically has a queue.


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