YES! Japan town does in fact have what appears to be a new joint for shabu shabu, and it's called Shabu Sen...
My GF (VLiang, see below re: Mum's) and I had a hankering for shabu shabu and originally set out for Mum's, given the somewhat favorable reviews we had come across and the lack of any options to consider in the alternative. Also somewhat attractive was the fact Mum's offers and all you can eat and...from my standpoint..DRINK...dinner special that sounded incredibly reasonable at approximately $32.00 each. The only catch is that you have only two hours to complete your meal, which sounded plenty of time for at least one of us (i.e., BF) to get his fair share of food and drink for the price of two of us. Well, the old adage "You get what you pay for!" was seemingly true in the case of Mum's. While we were not offended by the fact it is located in the less than hip Best Western-Japantown; however, the ambiance--or lack thereof, of the eatery was enough to kill our appetite. That is to say, Mum's has an old folks coffee-shop like vibe resemblant of Hometown Buffet. Or...if you show up late enough, you may encounter a packed house of Japantown youth just old enough to drink, who are doing mostly just that en masse. Suffice it to say, I can't comment on the food at Mum's b/c the noise volume was intolerable and table space was not to be had.
However, we did stumble upon Shabu Sen just down the walkway in the center of Japantown and had a very enjoyable meal. To be sure, their menu is somewhat limited but if you want shabu shabu or sukiyaki--they've got it! And, while I cannot compare the quality of their meat to that in Japan, I can say that I found it to be quite delectable and of very good quality and freshly cut. The only thing lacking was the flavor in the shabu shabu broth; however, this is easily cured with a proper addition of spices and/or sauces which were amply provided. While it was not of the all you can eat or drink variety, the prices were definitely reasonable and it ended up being cheaper in the end given that one can only stomach so much food and drink in the first place--total cost for two with a pitcher of beer (yep, the have pitchers!) was approx $50 w/tip. The staff were extremely friendly and courteous, the ambiance very pleasant and "authentic", and the dining experience one I look forward to repeating again. Do it, man!!
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