My daughter, Robin, called this passed weekend.
“Wanna go to Shabu?” she asked.
“Shabu? Is that one of those exotic Caribbean islands? I’ll have to pass. I turned my bikini into a mask during COVID.”
(After all these years, she was unfazed by my nonsense.)
“I’m talking about Shabu Day,” she said. “It’s a Korean restaurant on Olive that opened about six months ago. They have a great hot pot.”
“In that case, count me in!” I said, recalling the culinary adventures I had in Korea years ago.
“Great, we’ll pick you up around 11:15. It’s best to get there early, since they don’t take reservations on weekends.”
An Easy Menu
Don’t Judge a Book by It’s Cover
As we drove up to the corner restaurant, I was not impressed. At first, I wasn’t sure it was even open. But once inside, the greeting was warm and the tables spotless, and set with precision.
Each table had its own heating unit in the middle for a cook-your-own-hotpot. (A hooded cooktop would lessen the steaminess, that causes moisture to collect on walls and windows as the place gets crowded.)
A Group Adventure
It is said that the communal meal was brought to Korea by invading Mongols centuries ago. Today it’s still enjoyed best as a group experience with family and friends. We were joined by an old friend visiting from Prague.
The menu isn’t complicated. Just pick from several bone broths. We went with the red and the white. Select the vegetable bowl, dumplings, and thinly slivered pork and beef. Dipping sauces in foreground above add the final touch. There are several, including a sukiyaki, spicy house, and sweet house.
A Pot of Perfection
In no time, our server arrived with the steamy bone broth and poured the warm liquid into each side of the double wok.
“Let it boil.” he said. “Then reduce the heat to a simmer and add the veggies and dumplings. The crushed noodles go in next and last—the meat.” (Drooling diners will find those aromatic minutes of waiting difficult, but worth their patience.)