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Dec 22, 2008 12:28 PM

Shabu Shabu [split from DC]

(Note: This thread was split from the DC & Baltimore board at: - The Chowhound Team).

So with the "real" Shabu shabu, diners should get 2 pots of different broth? Or same? Do you drink the broth as soup afterwards? Which one would you, vege pot or the meat pot? I'm not asking to argue, but because I'm truely confused. I've had shabu shabu in a Japanese restaurant owned by a Japanese family, and I wsa only served 1 pot, was that not the real thing? I also don't remember being served 2 pots when having shabu shabe in Tokyo about 5 years ago. I see your point about not finding what you were told the restaurant serves by its name sake. But I don't see how the 2 are truly different, and would really like to learned.

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  1. The Shabu Shabu I have had at Japanese restaurants in Little Tokyo and on Western Avenue in LA and in Gardena all served their Shabu Shabu in a shallow pan on a heating element. The broth was a clear broth with a piece of kombu in it. The meat was rib eye or a lesser cut of beef and was presented on a platter. The dipping sauce was a tangy sauce with maybe a sesame flavor (its been a lot of years since I ate Shabu in any of LA's Japanese districts (where we used to live). As you were eating the meats, a second plate was brought out with udon noodle, tofu, Japanese green onion and maybe some other vegetables. You dipped the meat in the broth momentarily till it lost its raw appearance, dipped and ate. At the end you were encouraged to add the contents of the veggie plate to the pot to cook and enjoy with the now strongly flavored broth.

    The closest I ahve had here is at a Korean restaurant: OanJa Gib? THe one Sietsema included in dining guide of 2 issues abck. It is all you can eat and was fairly accurate if not the most flavorful version I have had.

    1. Shabu shabu is not really served in a pot, it's like when you go to Korean places to grill your own food -- you get the one pot for everyone to share to cook their meat in. I gurantee you that the shabu shabu you had was real. You may have had two pots of shabu shabu because you had a lot of people when you were in Tokyo.

      You don't drink the broth afterwards -- they take the pot away. I would imagine it's not nice to drink and the pot is kept constantly hot by a heater. We also didn't get a choice of broth, just what we put in the broth (meat/veggies, etc). The person below gives a GREAT description of what it is (though we didn't have dipping sauces and didn't make ours 'nabe' (hot pot) style by adding anything to it afterwards).

      If you've seen "Lost in Translation", you know what I'm talking about when I say shabu shabu. You usually only get the option of what to put in it, not the broth.

      9 Replies
      1. re: discojing

        I'm with discojing on this one. I'm from Malaysia and we have variations of "shabu shabu" but we would never call it that. In Malaysia/Singapore, we call it "steam boat." Perhaps it is just a matter of labeling, but for those who grew up with it, I think it matters a bit more. The word itself "shabu shabu" is Japanese. A Japanese person has a very specific understanding/expectation of what that is. The Taiwanese version/variation may seem the same to Americans, but it is not. Similarly, Taiwanese hot pot is different from the hot pots in Chengdu. Steam boats in SEA are also very different, both in taste and the types of ingredients that go into the hot pot. We like to drink our broth with some noodles at the end of the meal - and the noodles are not udon noodles.

        1. re: pleen

          In taiwan, we don't call it "shabu shabu." It literally translates into "fire pot." My mom would pan fry yams and then put it in the pot to cook (since it takes a long time) with fish/meat/squid balls. Once the broth is boiling, one can swish the protein around. Towards the end of the meal, we would throw in cellophane noodles which soaks up the broth. If you're still hungry, you can drink the nutrient filled broth.

          1. re: Ericandblueboy

            May I remind you, pleen, and discojing that you're not in your native country, but rather, in the United States, more specifically, in the Washington DC area. Restaurants here serve customers who come from all over the world. Some seek a taste of home, but most seek an experience that's different from steak and fried chicken.

            People who grew up on pizza from New York find pizza in Italy strange. Does this mean that one is not "real pizza?" People who come from Texas and order a barbecue sandwich in Georgia find it strange. Does that mean it's not "real barbecue?" Some feel just as strongly about regional variations from right here in the US as you do about regional variations of meat-cooked-in-broth-at-the-table. But we learn what we like, how to translate the local names, sometimes enjoy discussing regional styles and variations, and get along just fine. But we've mostly learned not to get too upset about what a particular restaurant names their signature dish (or even name their restaurant).

            1. re: MikeR

              I think it would be better suited it I changed "REAL" to "traditional" shabu shabu. but then again that wouldn't solve it either because there are traditional regional hot pots out there as well that claim to be shabu shabu.

              I'll just let this drop and check out Blue Ocean as recommended . Glad to know some people (pleen & ericandblueboy) get what I'm saying. I think if you don't know what I'm talking about, no matter what analogies or metaphors I make or examples I give, it won't do this situation justice -- it's just the "perfect storm" and a unique situation. [though I did think my sushi example was good T_T ]

              I think people are just TOO attached to Bob's for me to have made such a specific example of 'not "real" shabu shabu" in my quest to simply just find what I was looking for.

            2. re: Ericandblueboy

              Did you call it skiyaki? That's what I grew up with (or sukiyaki) in a Taiwanese household. I haven't had it at restaurants, but have had mongolian hot pot which is different. This explains the difference between sukiyaki and shabu shabu:


              I still don't see that they're that different, except the dipping sauce and I do like the raw egg sauce w/ skiyaki.

              1. re: chowser

                hm.. sukiyaki is dumping everything in the pot (lit. -- cook what you like) and serving it all at the same time. this is a version of japanese "hot pot"

                shabu shabu is not leaving it in the broth to cook, just lightly swishing it in the broth to cook it and then removing it to eat.

                1. re: discojing

                  I see. I've never heard of shabu shabu but grew up w skiyaki, the hot pot. Japanese influence is prevalent in most asian cuisines since it's domination of Asia 50+ years ago and most cultures have adapted its food. Maybe Bob's noodle house serves sukiyaki, more common in Taiwan, than shabu shabu. But that doesn't help w/ your shabu shabu quest. FWIW, I ate at Blue Ocean in Fairfax a couple of times a few years ago (don't think it has changed owners) and wasn't that impressed with either the food or the service. I vaguely remember it but do remember the warm sushi.

                  1. re: chowser

                    yeah, i ate there a year or two ago -- didnt like the food or service. but im desperate for shabu shabu!

                    1. re: discojing

                      Have you tried Arigato in Fairfax? They are my favorite Japanese restaurant in the Fairfax County area. It's in front of the Expo Home Center on Lee Highway. Not only is the food good but they pay special attention to details, possibly the prettiest sushi I've ever had, which is a good sign. They do have a shabu shabu. They also have suki yaki so it's a good sign you won't get a hotpot. I don't know anything about it but it's a good restaurant.