Shabu Shabu and Sukiyakibabibubebo | 26 07 2008
Going back to food, two of my favorite dishes in Japan are shabu shabu and sukiyaki, both of which are kinds of “nabe.” I like to describe this as Japanese fondue, except there isn’t cheese or chocolate (which is a too bad). Nabe dishes are ones where the ingredients come raw and you cook them in some kind of soup stock at your table (hence the Japanese fondue comparison). One major difference with this is that the beef (or sometimes pork) comes sliced very thin so the cooking time is just a few seconds, depending on how you like you meat cooked of course. After cooking, usually there is something to dip your food in. For example, for shabu shabu there are two sauces, a ponzu sauce and a sesame sauce and for sukiyaki it is common to dip your beef in raw egg (I am not a fan of this one to be honest). Of the photos below, the one of the left is sukiyaki and the one on the right is shabu shabu.
In addition to being very tasty, eating these nabe dishes are a good and fun experience and a must while visiting Japan, especially if you like beef. You can find places all over Japan, both local shops and chains; however, there are two that I want to recommend (both of which are “all you can eat”)!
The first one I want to recommend is called Shabuzen, which is the place that the above photos are from. There are Shabuzens all over Japan and most of them are more or less the same, but here is a link to the Roppongi Shabuzen. Shabuzen has the reputation as being one of the highest quality shabu shabu restaurants and doesn’t come at a cheap price. If you just go with the basic all you can eat course, which includes all you can eat beef and vegetables, it will cost around $40 USD. If you want you can upgrade the quality of beef or get seafood or other dishes. I think the prices go up to as high as $150 USD per person! I have not tried that one, but I can vouch for the basic one as being super delicious.
The other place I want to recommend is called Nabezo, also a chain throughout parts of Japan. I have been to the ones in Asakusa and Shinjuku. I actually prefer Nabezo for a couple of reasons. Not only is Nabezo a lot more affordable (starts around $18 USD), but also there more choices for soup stocks and for vegetables (in the form of a salad bar). Another possible advantage, depending on your carnivorous preferences, is that you automatically get pork and beef while some Shabuzens I could only get beef. Anyway, let’s take a look at the menu.
As you can see, there are four choices of broth/soup stock to cook your food in. Starting from number one (top left) and moving counter clockwise, we have your regular shabu shabu, then sukiyaki (which is a little sweet), then kimochi style (spicy) and last tonkotsu (which is pork based stock, a little salty). Another great thing about Nabezo is that you can choose two different ones to cook your food in. Below I decided on tonkotsu and sukiyaki. If you can read Japanese, here is a list of the Nabezo Restaurants and here is a link to SunnyPages.jp about the Nabezo in Ginza.
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