Restaurants & Bars 4


glenn | Jan 25, 2003 12:47 AM

I should admit up front that I basically fell in love with this place as soon as I got a look at the inside through the window by the door. Cheerfully lit, rows of people eating with apparent pleasure, staff bustling about purposefully, everything shiny and beckoning. There were many people waiting, but none for long.

The deal, for those of you who've missed it, is that you've got a hot-pot full of seasoned broth bubbling in front of you, a pile of vegetables, a pile of some sort of raw meat or fish and some noodles, and some dipping sauce. You cook the stuff in the broth yourself (they'll happily advise and demonstrate), piece by piece. This very simple and satisfying.

There are various broths. We tried the regular house broth (dashi, basically) and the spicy Thai Tom Yum, the former mild and comforting, the latter tangy and soup-grade in its own right. The bulk of the vegetables (bulkwise, I mean) were cabbages, which look kind of underwhelming but work superbly in the broth. Our main dunking course began with a seafood selection, which included a couple scallops, a couple pieces of salmon, some cod (I think), a healthy pile of sliced squid and something else that has escaped my head. The squid was especially fun to cook, turning quickly from flat slices to plump rings. The salmon was fabulous. The scallops and cod were fresh and tasty, but didn't seem to me to soak up as much flavor from the broth as the other things.

The beef plate came a couple minutes later, and very quickly convinced me that seafood really isn't shabu-shabu's true strength. We only went for "sirloin", way down their many-grade beef scale, but it came sliced silk-thin and beautiful, and unlike the seafood, which lends itself to being dunked in and left for a bit, the beef you swish around ("shabu" being somebody's idea of the sound this makes) and watch it change color in a matter of seconds. Beef absorbs the broth flavors and the dipping sauce magnificently, and passersby may have heard me sigh aloud.

Oh, and they do a right-plausible tako yaki to get you started. A very happy place. Highly recommended.


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