Sunday, January 6, 2019

A New Casual Shabu Shabu Joint

The entrance of the new Shabu Shabu Shiki restaurant did somewhat resembles those that one may find inside commercial buildings in Ginza Tokyo, with just a small sign at the door and a long corridor leading into a cozy dining room at the back. The former space of La Bombance (a restaurant that I loved but sadly closed a few months ago) right in the middle of Causeway Bay has become a pop-up venue for this new shabu shabu restaurant by the same group, which my friend (and dinner host) D was describing (quite accurately) as a casual and reasonably priced restaurant using top-notch Japanese ingredients.

Despite its prime location and nice décor, price was surprisingly reasonable, with different set menus based on the kind of meats or seafood chosen as main course for the shabu-shabu hotpot (or a combination of such). Wagyu of various cuts and grades (from Kagoshima) was the obvious choice, but there’s also options for Hokkaido Yongenton pork or Hanamidori chicken, or even seasonal seafood.

Most of us went for the A5 Sirloin and we also ordered the pork and chicken dishes to try. Each diner was provided with one's own gas stove and soup in a casserole, and there’s a good choices of soup base to pick, from the more traditional ones such as bonito dashi, Sichuan or chicken broth, to the modern ones like yuzu-shio, soy milk or curry, which was the one I picked at the end.

Our food soon arrived, nicely arranged just like what’s shown in the picture printed on the menu. Six thin slices of well-marbled wagyu sirloin was laid out on a big earthenware plate (160g according to the menu description), and then on another dish was the vegetable platter, including purple and white radishes, shiitake mushrooms, leeks, carrots, cabbages and mizuna (or Japanese mustard greens) – all popular dishes for shabu-shabu. On the side was 2 simple sauces to go with the food, which were a mild yuzu vinegar and the sesame sauce for vegetables and meat respectively.

I thought the portion and quality were great, and the slices of beef were tasty with just a quick dip into the boiling broth and then into the bowl of sesame sauce. I also loved the chunks of chicken, with a firm texture and good meaty flavor, and the vegetables acted as the balancing act to all the meats we have eaten. All these went well with a glass of ice-cold beer.

Towards the end when we finished with all the food, we had a choice of a bowl of udon noodles or rice to turn the soup into the final course of either noodles in soup or zosui, or Japanese rice porridge. I found it therapeutic to slowly stir the rice into the spicy and flavorful curry soup to thicken with a cracked egg and more leeks, and turned this into a hearty ending to our meal which also doubled as our ah hoc celebration to ring in the new year.

(Dinner tasting was by invitation)

When? January 2 2018
Where? Shabu Shabu Shiki pop-up, Level 30, V-Point, 18 Tang Lung Street, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? Shabu Shabu with Kagoshima A4 Wagyu Sirloin
Web: (Facebook)

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