So, I finally tried the new shabu shabu place off Georgia. Have you been there?
I am kidding. There is no shabu shabu restaurant in the hood, although I'd be pretty psyched if there was. If you are not familiar with this kind of dining, it is a Japanese style of dining that involves cooking your food with a hot pot that's sitting at your table.
Since I am back in LA for work, I tried this for the first time the other day at a place called Kushi Shabu in Little Tokyo.. Interesting. I wish I would have been with someone familiar with this type of dining or received some kind of instruction from my waitress, but alas, neither was to be. But I made it through OK on my own.
Here is the hot pot that I mentioned. When I was seated I first thought it was some kind of scale to weigh my food. I thought, oh Lord, do I really wanna know the weight of the food I'll consume tonight. But it became quickly apparent it was not a scale when the waitress placed a pot of water on top and turned the device to high.
I ordered the seafood shabu shabu meal, although meat seems to be the protein of choice for most SS meals. My dish came with a few fried skewers of seafood and then a plate of raw items which were to be cooked in the hot pot. I also ordered some pickled veggies, since I almost always LOVE these when I can find them in Japanese restaurants. This meal was no exception.
The fried items were pretty easy to deal with. No cooking involved here. My only choice with these was to decide what sauce to use as a dip. I had my choice of peanut sauce, soy sauce, and another one that was kind of thick and a bit tangy. I sampled a bit of each with these skewers. While they were all quite tasty, I could not ID which type of seafood each was. Besides the shrimp, most of the others were a bit of a mystery to me. But hey, deep fried seafood on skewers works for me whether I know what I am eating or not.
After the fried dish I was brought my appetizer -- oshinko -- or Japanese pickled vegetables. I am never sure what will come on the plate, but almost always I am happy with the mix. This night I had some gobo (burdock root), radish, carrots and cabbage. All oishi. I could eat this stuff about every night of the week. I definitely need to figure out how to do this myself since I pretty much never see it in our neck of the woods.
Next came my plate or raw seafood and uncooked noodles that I was supposed to cook in my hot pot. Hello, a little direction here. But none was coming. I'm glad I cook Asian meals on a somewhat regular basis so I wouldn't ruin everything. But still, it was a bit unnerving.
The clams and fish were pretty straightforward. And I figured with the noodles I would just taste them after they had cooked a while to see if they were done. So that did work OK. And the other seafood items, squid, langostine, and some mystery fish also came out all right. But hey, what was I supposed to do after that?? I had my mix of sauces, but had no clue how to proceed. So I just flew by the seat of my pants. A little soy here, some peanut sauce there, the other sauce whenever. I mean it turned out decent, but you can't just willy nilly add sauces to your seafood and noodles without some kind of game plan. And I had none. Again, some guidance would have been appreciated. I also needed help finding my cellophane noodles in my pot. After they cooked they essentially became transparent and good luck trying to pull those guys out. I gave up on them and used the rice which was provided as a side.
I read after the fact that traditionally the rice would be added to the leftover broth in your hot pot. However, had I known that I kinda doubt I would have done it. It seemed to work better eaten with my cooked seafood and sauces.
I'm ready to try it again, but the next time supervision is a must!