Last night, my family and I went to a shabu-shabu restaurant to celebrate my SIL’s birthday. It was my first time, and I think it may be a new dining-out option for us. The Princess enjoyed being able to cook her own food at the table and dipping it in sauces. The adults liked it because it was a great way to fill up on vegetables and eat portion-controlled meat. And the biggest and best surprise of all, nothing was fried.
For those who aren’t familiar with shabu-shabu, it’s like a healthier version of eating fondue. “Shabu-shabu” refers to the swishing sound made when swirling the meat or vegetable into a broth boiling in a hot pot. Once the meat or vegetable is cooked, you dip it into a dipping sauce and eat it. As you keep cooking the meats and vegetables into the broth, all the flavors blend together and eventually you can eat the broth with noodles or rice.
At this restaurant, we each chose a type of broth (chicken or seaweed), the type of meat (various types of beef thinly sliced, chicken, or seafood), vegetable platter option, and noodles or rice. We also had the option of ordering additional ingredients al a carte. Four different dipping sauces were set before us—a soy/vinegar ponzu sauce, a spicy sauce, a peanut/sesame sauce, and honey mustard sauce. (We kept the peanut/sesame sauce away from the Princess, of course!)
I personally am not fond of vegetables. In fact, I tend to eat them last—like an afterthought—if at all. But strangely, somehow I was caught up with the idea of swishing my food around in a bubbling broth and dipping it in sauces and eating it. I actually ate all the vegetables on my plate, which is a miracle in itself. The meat I chose literally melted in my mouth. It was so good, I ended up trying to eat all my vegetables in order to make the meat last longer—to save the best for last.
The good thing about this dining experience is that each person has her/her own broth, so there’s less chance of cross-contamination for people with food allergies. (Also, if someone’s sick at the table, you won’t get his/her germs.) For people trying to lose weight/control cholesterol, shabu-shabu is a great way to control meat portions and increase fiber intake. Best of all, you leave the table feeling pleasantly full, but not overly-stuffed.