Shabu Shabu Brings Diners Home

Features Inside Feature

March 31, 2013

Story By: Kyle Galdeira | Photos by: Leah Friel

Shabu Shabu House has spent nearly a decade providing a home for diners to enjoy healthy Japanese cooking, where hearty and satisfying menu selections are prepared right at the table.

Conveniently located on Kapiolani Boulevard, Shabu Shabu House offers an assortment of fresh meats, including beef, pork, chicken, lamb and various seafood options in addition to fresh vegetables and satisfying side dishes. Customers prepare the food by submerging the thinly sliced meat or vegetables in a pot of boiling water flavored with seaweed, and swishing it back and forth several times. The term shabu shabu directly translates to “swish swish,” mimicking the sound one makes while cooking the food.

Shabu Shabu House also allows customers to prepare their favorite items sukiyaki style, which involves cooking in a thicker shoyu-based sauce. Sukiyaki cooking provides more flavor to the broth, and was introduced to give diners additional freedom when creating and enjoying their favorite tastes.

Upon cooking the items, customers may dip their favorites in assorted savory sauces and eat them along with rice, which also helps to tie all the flavors together. Shabu Shabu House supervisor Grant Murata explains that the restaurant offers the traditional style of shabu shabu cooking, whereas some competitors call themselves shabu shabu while actually offering nabe-style cooking, which utilizes different flavored broths.

“Shabu Shabu House was the first to feature the idea of one person, one pot to cook the food in,” Murata says. “Usually, in the old days, shabu shabu came in one big pot and everybody shared. This style is different than “hot pot” cooking in that we use the traditional, simple broth — we try to stick with the original flavors and keep dishes healthy. The restaurant has evolved to take on its own style, and while remaining traditional, people are able to determine what they enjoy as they experiment with all the flavors.”

Shabu Shabu House continues to introduce new items for customers to enjoy, including Kurobuta Pork ($15.95 shabu shabu set at dinner and $11.95 lunch, and $18.95 for sukiyaki set at dinner and $14.95 lunch). Murata notes that while the meat is pork belly and resembles bacon, the Kurobuta variety is not very fatty and is lauded for being rich in vitamin B-1.

“It’s higher quality pork, and we really wanted to bring out the flavor of it through shabu shabu,” Murata says. “All you need to season it is salt, pepper and sesame seed oil sauce. We found that you’re able to bring out the flavor of the pork that way without being overwhelmed by other seasonings. Though people may be afraid of eating pork, it’s actually healthier than beef, and that’s why we wanted to feature a new, healthy pork dish on our menu.”

Murata also explains that customers can look forward to enjoying Kobe Ribeye beef in the near future.

General manager Kazuyo Makita recommends Kobe Set B ($34.95 at lunch and dinner, add $9 for larger portion). The dish features a platter of supreme tasting Kobe Style Beef “washugyu” along with additional plates of assorted vegetables, fresh tofu, arabiki sausage, udon noodles, three sauce choices (ponzu, ginger and sesame seed oil), white or brown rice and a piece of mochi ice cream for dessert.

Diners also may add assorted sides to their cooking creations, including Ito Konnyaku ($3.95), special Japanese noodles that are free of fat and cholesterol and aid in the digestion process. Customers also choose from additional favorites including Chinese cabbage, broccoli, red bell pepper, zucchini and pumpkin ($3.95 each).

Shabu Shabu House features new dessert selections, including mochi ice cream ($1.75 each piece) available in strawberry, mango and vanilla. Green Tea Ice Cream ($4.95) also is available, and the treat is specially made by Cold Stone Creamery with a unique recipe that features more green tea and a rich flavor, topped with azuki beans. Customers may indulge in French Vanilla ice cream with chocolate syrup ($4.95) as well.

In addition to the wide variety of soft drinks and both domestic and imported beers available, any meal choice also goes well with Shiro and Iichiko Shochu — smooth-tasting Japanese vodka available in small ($12.95) and large ($38) bottles.

Starting in April, customers may take advantage of Shabu Shabu House’s Early Bird special, which offers 10 percent off all menu items from 5 to 6 p.m., Monday through Thursday.

Shabu Shabu House

1221 Kapiolani Blvd., #108, Honolulu
Lunch available Monday-Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Dinner served nightly from 5 to 10 p.m.

Honolulu, HI 96814

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Hawaii's Best