Shabu Shabu’s Pot of Veggie Gold
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If you were looking for a way to express the word “health” visually, the Vegetable Shabu Shabu dinner plate at Shabu Shabu House does it up with an overflowing harvest-load of freshly cut, raw beauty. You know the shabu shabu deal: You come in and are seated at a table with a pot of water. It’s basically do-it-yourself dinner but without the prepping or cleanup mess. Order the Vegetable Shabu Shabu set ($15.95) and out comes a plate with udon noodles and tofu, accompanied by a much larger plate laden with crisp reds and oranges — red bell pepper, tomato, kabocha pumpkin, carrots — and every shade of garden green — broccoli, green bell pepper, watercress, zucchini, choi sum and Chinese cabbage. Adding additional zest in color, texture and flavor are purple cabbage, cauliflower and onion.
It’s the very picture of the stone soup story, where one clever, and hungry, person says he’s making stone soup. He provides the stone and gets all of the curious villagers to add one ingredient to the pot. The resulting feast is enough to satisfy the whole community. The heaping plate looks like it can serve a village too.
The reference garners a chuckle out of manager Nobuo “Kishi” Kishimoto.
“It’s for one person; it’s an individual order,” he laughs, adding “Of course, it comes with a side of rice, too.”
Then he describes exactly how the process works: “You have your hot pot right there with the water inside, or you can order vegetarian broth — just vegetables, no fish oil or chicken stock. When the temperature goes up, you put the vegetables inside.
“We have two vegetarian sauces. One is ginger with onion and the other is sesame. Both are homemade from a secret recipe. There’s no msg, it’s all natural. You cook the vegetables, take them from the pot, dip them in the sauce, and that’s how you eat shabu shabu.”
Kishi notes the Japanese way is to eat the udon noodles at the end of the meal.
By the time you’ve cooked all of the vegetables you have a nice stock to dip the noodles in before adding salt, shoyu or whatever condiments or sauce your palate prefers. And the tofu is suitable to eat at any point during the meal.
A smaller version of the veggie shabu shabu set is available at lunch for $11.95. Shabu Shabu also offers an assortment of veggies as side dishes at $3.95 each, and shiitake or enoki mushrooms at $5.50 each. Or if you’re a real mushroom fanatic, there’s a mixed mushroom side for $6.95 with several varieties of the meaty morsels.
As the rains and cool breezes of winter approach, what more healthy, warm and comforting dining experience than a Vegetable Shabu Shabu set?
Shabu Shabu House
- 1221 Kapiolani Boulevard
- Honolulu, HI 96814
- (808) 597-1655
- 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
- Monday – Saturday (Lunch)
- 5 p.m. – 10 p.m.
- Monday – Sunday (Dinner)
- Free, validated parking.