Shabu Shabu: A Piece of Heaven in a Pot

Shabu shabu is a hotpot dish which is very popular in Japan. It is simply thin slices of vegetables and meat that are out in the water to boil. It is an onomatopoeic term that means swish swish which is the sound that the ingredients make when they are stirred in the pot. As it is a must eat while visiting Tokyo, here are some of the things you should know about it.

The Origins of Shabu Shabu

The shabu shabu dish was introduced around the twentieth century in Japan along with the restaurant named Suehiro around Osaka in which the term was invented at. However, the origins of the dish can be traced as far as China since it is basically a Chinese hot pot. It is very similar to hotpot as opposed to dishes such as sukiyaki and nabemono.

How to Cook Shabu Shabu

Before proceeding to know where you can get the delicious shabu shabu, it is very important to note of how to make a shabu shabu, what equipment is being sued for the process and much more.

  • The pot and ladle
    The main item that is important in making a shabu shabu is a very large pot called the nabe along with a hot plate or maybe a portable burner in which one can cook on the table. Most restaurants go along with induction heated cooktops that are built within the tables. Another thing would be to keep a ladle to pick up items such as noodles and other hard to get items from the pat.
  • Broth
    One of the most basic things to take note in making shabu shabu is the broth which is a stock of dashi that can be prepared by using kombu seaweed as it heightens the umami flavor of the food instead of masking it. You can do some experiment on the broth depending on your taste.
  • Meat
    Commonly shabu shabu is cooked using thin slices of pork or beef. If you want a premium experience then you should opt for the A-5 ranked wagyu beef or maybe kurobota Berkshire pork. You can also go for lamb or chicken or if you are more adventurous then you can also go for venison, wild boar, bear or pufferfish as well.
  • Vegetables
    If you are fond of vegetables, you can enjoy your shabu shabu with a wide variety of vegetables which varies depending on the season. Some of the staple greens are cabbage and leek. Shiitake mushrooms are also employed along with brown beech. It can also include carrots, tofu, onions and even sweet corn during the summer.
  • Dipping sauce and condiments
    There are two types of dipping sauces that you can try out: the light citrusy flavor called the ponzu or the sesame sauce that is creamy called the goma-dare. For condiments, they usually come along with crushed garlic, chili oil, spring onions, sesame seeds and even white radishes.

Start Heating the Shabu Shabu

There are a lot of restaurants in Tokyo that offers delicious and affordable shabu shabu experiences and here are just some of these restaurants that you can go try out to get a taste of the dish you have been longing to try out.

  • Imafuku
    This restaurant has a one Michelin star and it is clearly obvious in their shabu shabu as to why they receive it. Their delicious beef is one of the best things you have to try out when you get to their shop. They are open every day except on the 31st of December until the 2nd of January from seven in the morning until eleven in the evening. Their shabu shabu ranges from approximately ten thousand yen.
  • Asakusa Imahan
    If you are looking for something that will satisfy your inner artist then go to this restaurant and try out their signature Wagyu beef. They have their menu in English and the waitresses will teach you on how to make sure you cook your beef and that you can manage things by yourself. You will even be served as an appetizer before your order arrives. During lunch time the budget is 3000 yen but 10,000 yen for dinner time.
  • Zakuro Nihonbashi
    Finding the best service and top it up with the company of friends is one of the best things to do if you want to try out a traditional space and just enjoy the classy outlook of the restaurant. What sets it apart from other restaurants is the copper hotpots that have been handcrafted and used for sixty years.

You get to pick what you put in your shabu shabu and you can’t get more freedom in a meal than this one. So go for it, enjoy the best and just let everything fall into place.

Alecksandra is a food hobbyist and otaku who has a deep interest in Japanese culture and cuisine. She likes knowing how every food out there in the open came to be, the meaning of their very names, why they taste the way they do and the diverging concepts that are behind every dish. One day she will travel to different countries to go restaurant hopping and share her food adventures to the world.

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