This was one of our favorite experiences in Tokyo.
Shabu shabu. In English, this translates to “swish swish.” It consists of dipping raw meat, vegetables, and noodles into boiling hot water or broth. We went to the large, bustling Shabuzen for this experience.
There are burners on the table and after you order, your server puts pots of water on the table until they start to simmer away. Two sauces – one bright and tangy, the other nutty and sesame-sweet. Both utterly delectable.
Yes it is expensive. And yes, it is worth it. Impossibly tender and rich, with a taste that is unmistakably beefy. It nearly falls apart in your mouth without chewing since it’s so tender. It doesn’t taste fatty or muddy, just incredibly satisfying and rich. It’s as close as I got to eating Wagyu or Kobe steak and it is sensational. A plethora of veggies – tofu, cabbage, mushrooms, bean threads, and a million other goodies. They don’t just taste good on their own, they also flavor the cooking water. Just drop the beef and veggies into the pot Swish swish till it’s cooked to your liking (for me, that’s just a few seconds), then dunk it into your sauce of choice (us smart kids mix the two), eat and enjoy. It’s so light and yet so delicious. Each ingredient is piping hot and tastes totally of itself – bright, earthy, meaty, vegetal…it’s just so fun and delish.
But don’t get too full!
Because when your platters are emptied… The server comes and brings fabulous noodles and rice cakes for you. The noodles are long and springy and the rice cakes are addictive – doughy and chewy. They soak up all of the flavor that the meat and veggies left in the pot. Its a comforting, delicious way to end the meal. You don’t want to be too full to enjoy. Shabuzen is the place to go if you have a large group and want a reservation. Or if you are dying to try some premium Japanese beef. Or if you have a big appetite and want to do all you can eat (your appetite would have to be huge…gargantuan).
Or if you just want an experienced that really can’t be mimicked elsewhere.
I reckon that anyone would love this place. Anyone I like, at least!