Its not often I got to Hongdae, its far too cool for the likes of me and a bit of a trek. However several times a year I will find the inner strength to make a pilgrimage to check out whats going on on in the neighbourhood of the young and the restless. As it so happened I had an important meeting a couple of stops away, so headed over to Hongdae after for a spot of dinner. I hadn’t really much idea of where I would go to eat, so I consulted my trusty list of places to try, and came across Maikatsu which had been recommended to me by a reader earlier on in the year. As I was hungry in Hongdae I figured i should give it a try.
The restaurant itself is small and functional with seating for about 12 and a large kitchen window counter at the back. When we saw the menu we were blown away by the amazing prices. This style of Japanese fast food is always pretty cheap, but this was crazy low, clearly it needs to be in student area Hongdae. But as someone who always has trouble living within her means, this price point was a breath of fresh air.
We wanted to try the muster of their pork cutlet which I had heard great things about. As I planned on trying a couple of things I ordered the single Maikatsu (3,500), but there is a double version for 6,000. The cutlet is made using a traditional recipe and using pork that has been aged for at least 48 hours before being coated in bread crumbs and deep fried. I was very impressed with how tasty it was. It was served with rice, soup, shredded cabbage, pickled radish, sesame seeds in a pestle and mortar and of course the pork cutlet sauce. Honestly this was incredible for the price, even those hideous GS microwave boxes (that I often buy drunk) cost more than this, and are about a third of the quality.
My companion was in the mood to try their Mai Katsu Sando (3,500) which is a modern take on the tonkatso and served as a sandwich. The pork cutlet was sliced and served between white slices of bread with a touch of mustard sauce. I had a bite and it was quite tasty, personally I would rather have it with rice for the same price, but it made a very god snack. He also ordered the Mai Hayashi Rice (5,500). This dish is a beef stew made with slow cooked vegetables in a demi-glace, red wine, and tomato sauce. We both loved this, the sauce had a real intense flavour, with a good kick at the end without being too spicy. I think it was all eaten in a bout two minutes flat, I would come back for this alone!
It being an insanely cold and and wet snowy day I was dying to try a bowl of Tonkotsu (5,500). This is a noodle dish that I absolutely adore so was excited to give it a try. Unfortunately this was not as good as I had hoped, egg wasn’t in the Japanese style with the runny yolk, the broth was not particularly meaty, and the char siu pork didnt much flavour either. While it wasn’t inedible by any means, I pretty much finished the bowl, it just lacked the intense flavours that I associate with his dish. I think i’ll stick with Menya Sendaime for Tonkotsu from now on.
Overall I thought this a great restaurant for the money, I’d certainly come back for the curry and pork cutlet and I’d like to try a few other menu items. We also loved their mini beers which are 1,500 for 220mls. This was the perfect amount for me to enjoy without dinner without having to drink a whole pint. If you are in the neighbourhood and looking for something cheap to eat it will hit the spot. We also noticed several other really cheap restaurants nearby so I think it’s a good area for those on a budget.
Maikatsu is located at 344-9 Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Hongdae Station (line 2) and come out of exit 9. Walk straight out of the exit and take the second right. Walk all the way along that main road until you get to the end and make a left following the road around. You will walk straight for a little bit then take the next left again. You will see Maikatsu ahead on the left hand side. For more information you can call them on 010-4803-3411.