Hot Pot Garden [San Francisco]
I was having my computer repaired over by Taraval & 22nd (Cosmic Computer -- cannot recommend them enough!) and afterwards thought I'd catch a bit to eat.
Hot Pot Garden had a line out the door and since I was alone I rightly surmised I could sneak in quick and sit at the counter.
This place was great. I am a fan of shabu shabu, but it was kind of like shabu shabu on steroids.
The menu is about $28 for all you can eat. I usually shy away from all you can eat, because quality suffers. But everything was super fresh,
The restaurant is clean and bright, happy and buzzy. Lots of groups of friends enjoying themselves kind of place. The staff is very friendly and cheerful.
Menu-wise, you pick two broths that come in a big divided pot. I chose tonkatsu broth (which had chunks of daikon and corn) and a chinese herbal broth (which had a bunch of herbs and berries I did not know). Both were delicious.
A tip: they have condiments in the kitchen that you can ask for such as sesame sauce, ponzu sauce, and vinegar. I stumbled onto this by asking about the soy-sauce which was in little custom bottles on the counter.
After that there are 4 more sections. You can basically pick as many things as you want from all of them, but of course only a few at a time.
From the meat section I tried kurabota pork and ribeye. Both delicious.
From the seafood section I tried only shrimp, which were fantastic. these were very fresh, head-on shrimp on skewers. The blew the doors off shrimp I've gotten at shabu-shabu places in SF.
From the fishcake/dumpling section I tried lobster balls which were the only thing I did not particlarly enjoy.
From the vegetable section, napa cabbage, spinach, enoki mushrooms, puffy tofu were all quite nice, especially the mushroom and spinach.
I loved this place and had a great time there. I intend to bring back a group of friends. I think this will replace shabu-shabu in my repertoire from here on in...