Tuesday, September 12, 2006

shabu-shabu

Last weekend Mikey's friend, Alice, came into town. He asked if we wanted to go to Shabuway for dinner with them. We didn't have anything going on that day other than the local arts and crap festival. Besides, I've been wanting to try shabu-shabu.

Shabu-shabu is a Japanese dish where thin slices of meat, vegetables, tofu, etc., are swished around in hot broth or water. Wikipedia tells me that shabu-shabu roughly translates to "swish-swish".

Since this was our first foray into shabu-shabu, I wanted to order a bit of variety. Mr. Cupcake ordered the beef, and I went with the shrimp potstickers. I figured I could steal some of Mr. Cupcake's beef.

My order came with 10 potstickers.

Mr. Cupcake and Mikey both ordered the regular size Kobe style beef (picture). Alice being the shabu-shabu enthusiast she is, ordered the large.

Everyone received a dish filled with cabbage, mushrooms, tofu, udon noodles, carrots, and a few leaves of spinach.

In front of each of us, there was a pot full of boiling water. The server also brought out two sauces; one ponzu and the other was a seasame sauce.

So now what you ask? Well, you cook everything in the water! This was somewhat challenging. I didn't know how long to cook the potstickers because the skin was fairly thick. I just started dunking the potstickers. I have to say they were pretty bland. I was not impressed. I had to roll them a few times in the sauces to get some flavor. Though, I doubt most people go to a shabu-shabu place to get potstickers.

So what about the beef? Well, the beef was a lot tastier than the potstickers, but I'm still going to say it was a bit bland. The beef was very thin, and when it went into the boiling water, it was pretty much finished cooking. Mr. Cupcake also felt the meat was bland, so he helped it along by adding a red pepper condiment.

As far as the rest of the stuff, it was okay. I really like udon noodles. The only problem was that I kept forgetting about them, and then they became too soft. Same with the carrots.

This is what happens to the water after swishing beef and vegetables. Makes you want to drink it right? Well, don't get your hopes up; there's actually a ladle that's used to skim off the residual beef grossness.

Our total bill including drinks, tax and all that good stuff was about $65. Mikey was a nice guy and covered the bill. I told him I'd buy him a Sparks. I think part of the reason Mr. Cupcake and I weren't crazy for shabu-shabu was because it was a lot of effort. Call us lazy, but we prefer to have someone else to prepare our food when we go out. However, it was still a good good experience; we just won't be itching to have it on a regular basis. I'd still like to try shabu-shabu somewhere that uses a broth vs plain water. I've read some places use broth, and I think that'd aid in some of the blandness.

Even though we weren't huge fans, Mikey and Alice still enjoyed their shabu-shabu experience. In fact, Alice was tempted to order another side of beef.

Here is Mikey enjoying the fruits of his labor. What's that? You like what you see? Well, ladies, you're in luck because he's single!

3 comments:

mikey said...

Look at that, I'm Internet famous!

Asian Friend said...

It is true that the beef needs helping along with the various sauces. I love to dunk my slices in the goma (Japanese for "sesame") sauce and eat it with the rice. I don't know what it is about shabu shabu, but I'm obsessed with it. We tried to go the next day for lunch (Mikey being such a good sport) because I loved what we had so much but they had already closed up from lunch.

Other shabu shabu places offer a larger variety of vegetable items, but what Shabuway has going for them is a fantastic goma sauce. Saturday's experience was probably the second best taste experience I've had with shabu shabu. The ultimate was in Kyoto, Japan when I lived there between 2001 and 2002.

The Japanese save the noodles for last, after all the beef has been cooked because the water becomes a beef broth. The more meat you cook, the more flavorful the broth. So you can imagine what my bucket of water must have ended up...

Thanks to Madame Cupcake and Mr. Cupcake for coming along!

Anonymous said...

hmm well let's see. if you don't like to cook you're own food obviously you won't like shabu shabu. that's over 50% of the reason why you'd go. duh. lucky someone else paid for your "unpleasant" experience. and in that actuality, it wasn't THAT bad, was it.