Must-eat meat on the street in Japan’s video game and anime capital.

Not so long ago, we found out that Tokyo’s Akihabara Station has a bank of vending machines stocked with a huge array of delicious milk-based drinks, with all sorts of fruit, tea, and coffee flavorings to tempt you. But while those are great for quenching your thirst or satisfying your sweet tooth, what about when you’re feeling hungry?

Once again, Japan’s electronics and otaku culture mecca has a technologically solid solution, though this one is found outside the station. Long before Japan’s anime and video game companies ruled the neighborhood, and actually before those pastimes were even hobbies unto themselves, Niku no Mansei opened in Akihabara. In business since 1949, Niku no Mansei is a gourmet butcher shop and restaurant complex, with multiple eateries occupying its 10-floor headquarters just a short walk from Akihabara Station.

▼ That’s Niku no Mansei on the left

However, for this meal we’re headed not to the Niku no Mansei building itself, but across the street, to the spot under the underpass indicated by the right-side arrow in the above photo.

This section of the street is a collection of old-time shops called Radio Garden, and at the front of it you’ll find a pair of vending machines. One of them is an ordinary drink machine, but the other is filled with marvelous meaty Mansei sandwiches.

The Mansei machine works a little differently from other Japanese vending machines. First, you insert your money, then type in the number that corresponds with what you want to buy, and finally press the “purchase” button (marked 購入) to get your food.

The lineup consists of:
● Mankatsu sandwich / 万カツサンド (700 yen [US$6.50]), Mansei’s signature pork cutlet sandwich
● Hamburger steak sandwich / ハンバーグサンド (700 yen)
● Tenderloin pork cutlet sandwich / ヒレかつサンド (650 yen)
● Large tenderloin pork cutlet sandwich / ボリュームヒレかつサンド (900 yen)
● Niman cutlet sandwich / 弐万かつサンド (1,080 yen)

“Go big or go home” is a philosophy we live by when it comes to food, and there was no way we were going home without first eating the top-of-the-line Niman cutlet sandwich, which is made by stacking two pork cutlets on top of each other and sandwiching them between slices of bread.

▼ Niman cutlet sandwich

As we held the box in our hand, we felt an enticing weightiness, and opening up the lid revealed our mouthwatering meal.

Mansei skips any embellishments here, and instead gives you a straightforward cutlet sandwich, and the very first bite convinced us that they made the right decision. The meat is incredibly tender and tasty, and the sweet yet savory sauce makes for a moist, satisfying mouthful. With the sandwiches being made right across the street at Mansei headquarters, we’d expected this to taste pretty good, but the result is beyond even what we’d been hoping for.

As a matter of fact, it was so good that we decided to tell our stomachs to get ready for round two and immediately bought another item out of the machine, this time the hamburger steak sandwich.

Now, you might be wondering what separates a “hamburger steak sandwich” from a hamburger. Japanese hamburger steaks look pretty much like hamburger patties, but they’re made with a mixture of ground beef, pork, and diced onion. Mansei’s hamburger steak sandwich is also served on sandwich bread instead of a bun, and, in a departure from normal hamburger steaks, the patty is deep-fried.

▼ Linguistic purists might argue that, by Japanese culinary naming conventions, this makes it a “minced cutlet sandwich” instead of a hamburger steak sandwich, but we’re not ones to get that upset about semantics when we’ve got a handful of fried meat waiting for us to eat it.

Once again, the sandwich far exceeded our already high expectations. Like the Niman cutlet sandwich, the hamburger steak sandwich is juicy and tender, and it’s also 380 yen cheaper, which is a nice amount of extra change to have in your pocket with all the 300-yen gachapon capsule toy machines to be found on Akihabara’s sidewalks.

▼ As an added bonus, the Niku no Mansei vending machine corner has a table and even a sink, so that you can wash up before and after you eat.

So the Mansei vending machine went two for two, and with the machine now operating 24 hours a day we’re eager to head back and try the other three sandwiches as soon as we’ve got room in our stomachs for them.

Vending machine information
Niku no Mansei vending machine / 肉の万世自動販売機
Located at Radio Garden / ラジオガァデン
Address: Tokyo-to, Chiyoda-ku, Kanda Sudacho1-25

Photos ©SoraNews24
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Follow Casey on Twitter, where he’s pretty much constantly craving a cutlet sandwich.

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