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Shabu-shabu Swish and Slurp

Story By Terri Hefner Photos By Leah Friel
May 20 - 26, 2012

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Shabu-shabu is a big hit, and for good reason. Besides the fact that it’s just so much fun to say, shabu shabu, which translates to “swish-swish” (more fun), also is enjoyable to eat, as you get to “swish” your food in a pot, cooking it right at the table.

It’s similar to the Chinese hot pot, but according to Shabu Shabu House supervisor Grant Murata, they are definitely not the same.

“I wish people wouldn’t call it ‘hot pot,'” he says. “We have real Japanese-style shabu-shabu.”

The difference? A hot pot is filled with broth, while Japanese shabushabu uses water with a bit of konbu (seaweed) for flavor, which helps bring out the clean, fresh flavors of the food.

But if there’s one thing about shabushabu that non-meat eaters have a beef with, it’s exactly that — beef is usually the star, with vegetables taking on more of a supporting role.

If you think vegetables deserve the spotlight and meat should exit the stage altogether, at Shabu Shabu House you can immerse yourself (and an assortment of veggies) in shabu-shabu with the Vegetable Shabu Shabu set ($11.95 for lunch, $15.95 for dinner). It’s a rainbow of fresh vegetables — onions, peppers, cauliflower, broccoli, sweet potato, kabocha squash and more, depending on the season — as well as udon, tofu and rice. Although some of the dipping sauces do contain hon dashi, which is fish-based, Shabu Shabu House accommodates non-meat eaters with its ginger sauce, which is a simple shoyu, vinegar and ginger mix. Many customers also enjoy grated diakon mixed with shoyu, and flavorful sesame oil also is available to add a splash of flavor.

For the final act, by the time all those vitamin-rich veggies are finished swimming, the water is transformed into a healthy broth for the udon, to top off your meal with a satisfied slurp.

Shabu Shabu House

  • Where
    • 1221 Kapiolani Boulevard
    • Honolulu, HI 96814
  • Call
    • (808) 597-1655
  • Hours
    • Monday – Saturday
    • 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. (Lunch, last seating 1:30 p.m.)
    • 5 p.m. – 10 p.m. (Dinner, last seating 9:30 p.m.)
    • Sunday
    • 5 p.m. – 10 p.m. (Dinner, last seating 9:30 p.m.)
  • Notes
    • Validated parking available.
  • Website