Winter’s a-coming and what better way to escape the bitter cold than warming yourself up by eating thin tender slices of top quality beef briefly swished in a simmering rich and savory broth? Shabu shabu is a well known type of Japanese hot pot served all year round, but eaten more often during the winter. The name of the dish translates into ‘swish swish’ in Japanese to describe the sounds made when the meat is swished around in the pot. Shabu shabu is most commonly made with thinly cut pieces of tender beef and is often served with an assortment of vegetables, tofu, udon, and sometimes other types of meat. The meat and vegetables are often dipped with either Ponzu or Goma sauce before being consumed with some rice. Customarily, the savory broth resulting from the cooked meat and vegetables is mixed with rice and consumed at the end of the meal.
The Yojie Shabu Shabu Japanese Restaurant is a small, neat restaurant located in a spacious setting in City Plaza which was recently built over a great plot of barren land. It is located along East South Street in Artesia, California. Among the many restaurants in the plaza, Yojie’s Shabu Shabu seems to be the most culturally decorated of them all. As you walk into the restaurant, you are welcomed by an elegant and oriental looking fountain. The walls are adorned with traditional Japanese drawings of pale ladies in colorful kimonos and angry samurais that are ready for battle. To fit in with the restaurant surroundings, the waiters and waitresses of Yojie’s Shabu Shabu are dressed in uniforms that resemble traditional Japanese clothing.
After having already cooked and tried shabu shabu in the comfort of my own home, I decided to try and experience it at Yojie’s Shabu Shabu Japanese Restaurant with my family to see what would be different. I decided to try Yojie’s Shabu Shabu because it had seemed cleaner, more welcoming, and more aesthetically pleasing than the other shabu shabu restaurants I had seen. When we arrived, I noticed a new large neon sign that emphasized shabu shabu as a healthy choice food on the side of Yojie’s Shabu Shabu. We were awkwardly greeted “Irashaimase!” in Japanese by a non-Japanese waitress who seemed to know as little Japanese as we did. As I waited for the waitress to take my order, I noticed that modern pop music that you would typically hear on the radio was being played instead of traditional music you would hear in most Japanese restaurants. This music choice really did not go with the restaurant’s oriental arrangement and ruined the mood. My first few observations of Yojie’s Shabu Shabu revealed that the restaurant was less traditional than I thought it would be.
Yojie’s Shabu Shabu menu named each of the entrees after Japanese terms. The meat lover would typically order the Sumo, which is 12 oz. of Angus beef for $19.99. Next up comes the Samurai, which is 8 oz. for $15.99. The Geisha is 5 oz. for $12.99 and the smallest plate, the Kodomo, is 3 oz. for $10.99. Each customer gets their own hotpot, unless they decide to share. There is a $5.00 sharing charge just to get an extra hotpot and a bowl of rice. The plate of vegetables that comes with each entrée order ended up being a small selection of cheap vegetables and sides that wouldn’t even be able to add flavor to the broth if it was split between people who were sharing. There were only a few pieces of common types of vegetables like cabbage, carrots, broccoli, and mushrooms, some small blocks of tofu, and a few strings of udon in the plate. However, the Angus beef that we ordered ended up tasting very delicious and tender, going along well with the Ponzu and Goma sauce that we were served. It was of slightly better quality than the type of beef I had for shabu shabu at home, but the plate of vegetables and sides that came along with our order was still a real disappointment. The biggest disappointment of all came at the end of the meal when it was time to drink the broth. For me, the broth at the end is my favorite part of this Japanese dish because it is enriched with remains of the beef and vegetables. Because of the small selection of sides which were mostly bland vegetables, the resulting broth at the end of my shabu shabu meal was almost tasteless.
Yojie’s Shabu Shabu claims that it serves delicious healthy food, but my experience told me that what it served was incredibly bland food. Yojie’s Shabu Shabu might have satisfied people who are new to the Japanese dish, but for people like my family and me who have tasted better, this restaurant was a big letdown. We had paid probably more than double the amount of what it would have cost to buy better ingredients in order to cook shabu shabu in a restaurant that provided a small selection of sides. Yojie Shabu Shabu shouldn’t even be called a restaurant because there is no cooking done in the kitchens. Customers of Yojie’s Shabu Shabu are paying high prices to order and cook Angus beef and vegetables themselves when they could just simply do it at home.
If you want to try the traditional Japanese dish of shabu shabu, I suggest that you save yourself money by buying the ingredients yourself and cooking it in the comfort of your own home, especially if you have a family. Cooking at home allows you to choose from many more different types of meats, vegetables, and sides such as fishcakes, quail eggs, meatballs, and crabmeat. Eating shabu shabu at a place like Yojie’s Shabu Shabu when you have a family is really expensive because everyone must get their own hotpot. At home, you only need one hotpot to share with everyone and everyone gets to taste the amazing broth at the end of the meal. By eating at home, not only do you save money, but you get to taste what this Japanese dish of shabu shabu is really like.
Yojie Shabu Shabu Japanese Restaurant
11710 East South Street, Artesia
Yojie Shabu-Shabu Japanese Fondue Restaurant
11710 South St Ste 105, Artesia, CA 90701