Tempting Tastes of Bangkok
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Shabu shabu restaurants have become a hot trend on the local dining scene in the past few years, and for good reason. Cooking over a tabletop hot pot is fun for diners, giving them free rein over what flavor combinations they want to create at any given moment. It also is a healthy way to eat, as most ingredients are fresh vegetables, seafood or lean cuts of meat that are cooked in soup broths rather than oil or butter.
But at many local shabu shabu establishments, the full experience of dining out is dampened by limited food choices and the lack of service, as customers must often-times serve themselves from cold, industrial refrigerators housed in a dining room surrounded by bright, flashy neon lights.
Not so at Shabu Shabu Bangkok. Located on the mauka end of Kapahulu Avenue, Shabu Shabu Bangkok is decidedly contemporary-casual in design. The calming wall colors, collection of Asian-inspired artwork, soft music and dim lighting beckon diners to slow down, relax and savor every bite over interesting conversation. For those who wish to escape the crowds in the main dining room, there are three private rooms that can seat six people, and a larger room with a seating capacity for 40 that can be sectioned off by sliding glass doors.
Though the concept of shabu shabu is the same as in most places, Shabu Shabu Bangkok steps it up a notch by having a friendly wait staff bring orders to each table. Soup broths come in five flavors — beef, chicken, vegetarian, Thai curry and the house Tom Yum broth — and cost $2 per person, with free refills available. There are the typical menu combo choices of seafood, meat or vegetarian sets, as well as a la carte offerings like vegetables (from $3.75), meats ($4.75) and seafood and mushroom plates ($5.75).
Every entree comes with five different Thai dipping sauces — Cilantro Lime, Tom Yum, Thai Soy Sauce, Ginger Onion and the house Red Bean Sauce — to kick up the soup base, and for even more spice, each table has a bottle of fresh Thai chili peppers on the side.
Per diners’ requests, Shabu Shabu Bangkok introduced a full menu of Thai cuisine last month to accompany its extensive list of shabu shabu options.
From appetizers, soups and salads to entrees, Thai curries, noodles, rice dishes and desserts, the new menu has something for everyone.
Seafood lovers will rejoice with an order of Crispy Shrimp Wraps ($7.95), a mild combination of shrimps, water chestnuts and spices wrapped in pastry shells and deep-fried served with cool cucumber slices and a vinaigrette dipping sauce, and the Fish Patties ($7.95), local fresh fish minced with string beans, red pepper, lemon grass, shal-lots and fresh spices.
For those who like their meals hot, there is the Evil Jungle Prince, a famous dish that combines fresh basil, coconut milk and red chili with choice of shrimp ($14.96), chicken ($12.95) or vegetables and tofu ($9.95) served over a bed of chopped cabbage. Or sample the Panang Curry, a fragrant and brightly colored medium-to-hot curry made with shrimp and scallops ($16.95), chicken ($12.95) or as a vegetarian option ($10.95).
Other standouts on the new menu include Vegetarian Spring Rolls ($7.95), Spicy Lemon Grass Soup (Tom Yum, $4.50-$5.95), Green Papaya Salad ($6.95), Long Eggplant and Sweet Basil Stir-Fried ($9.95-$12.95), Green Curry Seafood ($16.95), Pad
Thai ($9.95-$12.95) and Spicy Fried Rice ($9.95-$12.95). For dessert, choices include Brownie Ala Mode ($7.95), Thai Tapioca with Apple Banana ($4.95, $7.95 with scoop of ice cream), Cheesecake ($5.95) and two new options, Fried Banana Lumpia ($7.95) and Thai Halo Halo topped with coconut, ube or mango ice cream ($7.95).
There also is a list of tasty beverages to pair with the food. For example, the sweet and creamy Thai Iced Tea ($4.50) is the ideal companion for a curry or seafood dish, while the light, refreshing Calamansi Juice ($4) — a naturally sweet drink that tastes like a combination of tangerine juice and lemonade — goes well with stir-fry or spicy fare.
Nearly a year old, the establishment recently obtained its liquor license, meaning now diners can enjoy a bottle of Singha or Chang beer ($5) or a glass of wine ($6 white, $7 red) with their meals.
There is still the option to BYOB for a $2 corkage fee per person.
Shabu Shabu Bangkok
- 949 Kapahulu Avenue
- Honolulu, HI 96816
- (808) 732-7666
- Open daily
- 5 p.m. – 10 p.m.
- Limited free parking available in lot behind restaurant on Kaimuki Avenue. Double-parking is allowed; just alert the front desk upon seating. Metered street parking also available.