I had some good friends coming to town who I don't get to see enough of, I was looking for a place that was approachable, affordable and fun so I thought that Kaze, which I have been meaning to try for some time, might fit the bill. My friends aren't necessarily Hounds so if the place I chose missed the mark, it wouldn't be a big deal.
I have been to Shabu-zen a few times and liked it well enough. I'm sure being reunited with friends had something to do with it, but what a wonderful meal we had at Kaze.
This is a large 2 floor establishment, very clean, with a bar on the first floor. There is seating for couples as well as multi induction burner tables for groups.
My thoughts pretty much mirror Seekaltroute's review from last year here:
The hotpots have a divider down the middle so you have the opportunity to sample 2 "Soup bases" We went with the Japanese Tonkotsu and the mildly spicy Thai Tomyum. The tonkotsu is a broth made from pork bones that are cooked for about 3 hours. I noticed looks of concern when I ordered it, but it was met with overwhelming approval once served. It's very difficult to describe the wonderful flavor although not what I was expecting from "boiled pork bones" I think one does have to factor in the chinatown language barrier between our courteous and helpful waitress and her descriptions. The tomyum broth was a nice hearty variation on the ubiquitous Thai soup.
I was really surprised that they offered Ostrich, so my decision was made, others had the Prime Rib Eye, Boneless Short Rib Chicken and Lamb (which unfortunately did not get to try). Along with your entree you are offered a choice of Mung Bean Noodle,Undon , Steamed Rice, Spinach Noodle, Vermicelli or Japanese Potato Noodle.
My buddy, who is a meat and potato- hold the green stuff kinda guy, laid to waste his plate of veggies which comes with each entree (nappa cabbage, watercress, young leaf spinach, taro, corn, mushroom and one other item I don't recall) The portions are more than adequate.
Like SZ you are provided with a selection of garlic, hot peppers, scallions and shrimp paste (I think) to customize your soy dipping sauce.
I consider myself a Shabu-Shabu neophyte and it takes a while to figure out "the system " to cooking the combination of meats, vegetables and noodles. I have little doubt that we looked like a group of Atilla The Hun's lackeys attacking our meal to the initiated Shabu-Shabu diners.
Toward the end of the meal I tried my wife's Prime Rib Eye and I was kicking myself for not trying it earlier so I could steal more.
It was the birthday for a member of the table next us and they were brought the "Trilogy Mousse Cake" which looked outstanding and they seemed to like it.
I found it of interest that they are affiliated with East Ocean City, FuGaKyu, FuGaKyu Cafe (Sudbury) and Imperial Seafood so your thoughts on those establishments may temper your opinion of Kaze.
$30.00 pp including drinks and tip- not bad.
My take away: Fresh vegetables, high quality meats and lots of fun. It looks like I'll be benching SZ and putting Kaze in the starting lineup.