6 years ago I’d never even heard of the Japanese dining experience that is Shabu Shabu; Northern California is sadly still very behind the times, but luckily for those of us who live in LA/Southern California we have plenty of these places where you can post up in front of a boiling pot of water and cook a warm and healthy for yourself. I personally can’t get enough Shabu Shabu, it’s become a borderline addiction not only because I can stuff myself without feeling guilty, but also because Shabu is an experience, practically an event as it takes about an hour to get through the whole meal.
For those of you like “whats a Shabu Shabu…” Heres the quick rundown:
The standard Shabu components are a plate of raw mixed vegetables including cabbage, broccoli, carrots etc., accompanied by a plate of very thinly sliced meat (usually beef or chicken) which you then boil in individual cooking pots of water seasoned with garlic, horseradish, and scallions. Once the items are cooked to your liking you have two dipping sauces (ponzu and goma, a sesame sauce) to dip in then enjoy with a bowl of rice. And last but not least if you were smart little Shabu eater and saved your udon and glass noodles, you can make a soup with the broth they give you at the end. Wew! You get all that?
I’ve been to just about every Shabu Shabu restaurant in the Southern California region, and luckily for me my favorite of them all is right down the road in the heart of Santa Monica. You can find me and my boyfriend just about every Monday or Tuesday posted up at the Eat Shabu counter happily drinking Orion and busily swishing and cooking items in our hot pots. There’s three key components to Eat Shabu having won my affection: food/dipping sauces, authenticity, and ambiance. The vegetable plate and sauces have been changing a bit, but the quality remains the same and are always delicious. It’s relatively difficult to completely botch Shabu Shabu because of its natural simplicity, and while the food Eat Shabu provides is completely authentic, they have taken some chances on modernizing the menu and the overall experience. They showcase a hip, LA vibe in the overall design and decor of the space which is most clearly evident in their choices in art; most notably with pieces from the LA rebel himself, Shepard Fairey. You won’t find another Shabu house quite like this one; it may feel young or “too cool” for a Shabu place but that’s the best part about their location; Eat Shabu is in LA, where you are free to design and re-invent as you please.
There’s an art to Shabu Shabu, and my fellow OCD people will understand my obsession and love for the protocol and way in which you choose to eat Shabu Shabu. Even though I think I’m the only person who can eat Shabu correctly, I find it fascinating and fun just how many ways there are to enjoy this meal, and really none of which are wrong. Unless you eat your noodles first then fail on your part. None the less, it’s starting to cool off here in LA, and it will be a freezing 65 degrees before we know it. So instead of warming up over a bowl of Pho or taking the time to do Korean BBQ, grab a seat at Eat Shabu’s counter for a delicious, guilt-free and hearty Japanese dining experience. Maybe even see you tonight!