My first experience with shabu-shabu is at Yojie Japanese Fondue. They have multiple locations, but my first visit was in the Artesia location. It was very intimidating, to say the least. It was my first time coming across this type of dining, having just learned how to eat at a Korean BBQ place, this shabu-shabu thing was a feat.
Shabu-shabu is a Japanese hotpot dish where you dip your thinly-sliced meat into the boiling (and seasoned/flavored water). The word shabu-shabu is an onomatopoeia that translates to “swish swish”. The slices of meat and vegetables that come with your meal is cooked piece by piece and then dipped in the sauces they serve you.
Now that I’m a little bit more comfortable going to a shabu-shabu restaurant, I want to share with you guys how to eat shabu-shabu – the way that I learned at Yojie anyway.
They have a variety of meat to choose from, and most of them come in 3 sizes: Geisha (5 oz), Samurai (8 0z), and Sumo (10 oz).
Step One: Select the meat
They have a variety of meat options on the menu. Don’t fret, because rice and a veggie/udon bowl come with any order. I usually just get the more popular Yojie Cut, which is their handpicked angus beef.
Step Two: Select cooking style
They have five options of cooking your food. Shabu-shabu is where you cook your meat and veggies in a pot of boiling water. Don’t worry about the flavors because the server will be glad to assist you. Another one is the Sukiyaki sauce that is served in this really cute shallow pot with a wooden (or maybe bamboo?) lid. They also have Tonkatsu which is their ramen broth. Yakiniku is a flat-top grill style of cooking your meats. My personal favorite is the Spicy Miso broth because I prefer my soups with a little bit of kick to it.
Step Three: Get to swishing
The plate of meat is served in this elevated tray and the server will pretty much set up for you. After they’ve given you your rice, your veggies, seasonings, and dipping sauces, they bring out the meat. Since the meat is thinly sliced, you just grab it with your chopsticks and swish them around your broth for a few minutes.
If you leave the meat in for two long, you might overcook it. Same goes for your vegetables. You can leave them in for a little bit longer than the meat. It is almost customary to use your chopsticks for grabbing the meat, dipping them into the broth, and use them for eating as well.
Step Four: Dip this here, dip that there
You are given two dipping sauce that you can customize to your liking. You have the goma sauce (or sesame seed sauce) for your veggies, and the ponzu sauce (or a citrus-based dark brown sauce) for the meat.
My personal preference is I use the goma for both the meat and the veggies because I love the taste of that sauce so much. You can dip one on the other, but it is highly suggested you don’t dip your food in both sauces at the same time as the flavors would clash.
Step Five: Rice, rice away
You place your dipped meat or veggie on top of your rice so it’ll soak up all the yummy sauces. After that, eat away and enjoy!
Step Six: Repeat steps three to five until full
Step Seven: What about the broth?
With the rest of your broth, you can put them in your bowl together with the udon and the rest of your vegetables, and if you have any more leftover meat and rice. The soup bowl portion of my shabu-shabu experience is always the perfect way to end my meal.
Bonus Step: Get dessert!!
Yojie Japanese Fondue has paired with Raindrop Cake to give you a dessert experience like no other. You’ve probably heard about this unique dessert all over the internet. So of course, I had to give it a try. This cute little set-up is almost similar to Taho, a soy-based Filipino delicacy. But raindrop cake is different in a way that it takes your mouth through all these textures with just one bite of the raindrop cake. The raindrop is made of seaweed, believe it or not, and has no taste by itself. To add flavor, you mix the roasted soy powder and a sweet syrup called kuromitsu. You can either mix them together to get the mixtures of flavor and texture as a whole. But I preferred taking a scoop out of the delicate gelatinous raindrop, mix in some soy powder, and then adding the syrup. It is very ming-boggling to say the least, only because my mind actually thought the raindrop shape of the dessert will pop once I put the spoon into it haha. Over all, the raindrop cake is a must-try unique dessert. It’s is not too sweet and just perfect for the palate.
I hope that this little post of mine helps people who are intimidated to try new things, especially with shabu-shabu, go out there and give it a try. It is seriously the best experience. Not to mention the awesome food and company you’ll experience when you and your friends try this on your next night out. I especially recommend visiting Yojie Japanese Fondue in Cerritos, or visiting their other locations. Their staff is simply the best, being really nice about teaching you the ways of the shabu-shabu. Who knows, the next time you crave Japanese fondue, you’ll be the one sharing your swishing skills with your friends.
If you guys happen to try this type of dining, do let us know what you think here at Eat Play Chicago LA. Happy Weekend!
(Disclaimer: Eat Play Chicago LA did not receive compensation for this post.)