- Dave M.P.
I went to Shabu Zen on Saturday night with 5 friends, and we had a great meal. We were there pretty early, so we were able to sit at one of the tables, as opposed to the bar-like counters that fill most of the restaurant. Instead of individual pots at the tables, there are larger ones for people to share. The two pots were both divided in half, to make for 4 broths total for the 6 of us. Only four of us ended up ordering the meals, I had the seafood combo, while the other 3 just chicken and pork and combinations of those. We also ordered a few a la carte add-ins, but with the large vegetable plates, there was already plenty of food.
We didn't really know what to do exactly, and we probably did things wrong, but the outcome was delicious. I cooked the seafood (most was kind of boring, except for the 2 scallops which were great) and dipped it in a sauce that I made w/ sa-cha sauce, hot red peppers, scallions, soy sauce and chopped garlic. The meat was better though I thought, I'll get that next time. A bit later, we started just throwing vegetables, tofu and fish balls into the broth and letting them cook. We also threw in a lot of the raw garlic and the scallions. Since a lot of the broth disappeared as it was boiling, the waitress added more broth at one point. The broth tasted a lot like miso soup (maybe it was?), which was delicious, and at the end, when we threw in the noodles, there was lots of soup to drink. It was really garlicky too, since we had thrown so much in.
Two of my friends had smoothies (mango and strawberry) which were good. Overall, this place was a good deal, and a very healthy, filling meal. I am still a bit clueless if what we did (throwing things in the broth somewhat randomly) was right, but it sure tasted good...
Saturday night must have been hounds' night at Shabu-Zen -- I also went there with a couple of friends. What a great place! Dave MP has already described the place very well, so I'll just add a few things. At my table we had one of the split pots that was described and we had half with the regular broth (which I *think* is dashi -- can anyone confirm this?) and half with the special kimchee broth (the waitress stirs in a few spoonfuls of a spicy paste to the broth -- they also give you a little dish of kimchee) which is *wonderful*.
I have no idea what the approved procedure is, but I cooked the meats *very* briefly -- a few swishes through the broth, just until they turn grey -- and then into the dipping sauce and then my mouth. They were extremely tender and flavorful that way. The cabbage tasted great if it was boiled in the broth for a couple minutes, as did the corn.
The place itself is quite hip, and the waitstaff was very friendly. My friends and I got there unfashionably early (around 6), which turned out to be a good idea, because by the time we left at around 8:30, there were hordes of hungry people waiting. If you choose to sit at the bar, it might be a good idea to request seats towards the back, or you'll be acutely aware of all the folks waiting to sit down.
Overall, a fabulous experience.
Oh, and the green tea was exteremely good as well.
I have a Shabu-Zen outing planned for early April, with five others. Do you happen to know if they take reservations? Obviously, a table set-up would be preferable to the bar. Sounds great, we can't wait!