Lunch: R $9.50, L $11.50
Dinner: R $12.50,L $15.50
In Japan , Shabu Shabu, meaning “swish swish,” referring to the sound of swirling meat, is a popular form of community eating. Filled with restaurants on Third Street in San Mateo, owner Eiichi Mochizuki has introduced hot pot cooking in his 28 seat restaurant on main street.
While many Japanese Shabu Shabu restaurants cater to Western palates, usually offering a spicy or sweet sukiyaki broth. That’s not the case at Shabuway, where it serves up food replicating the ones in Japan .
Growing up near Tokyo, Mochizuki has been in the restaurant business since he was fourteen years old. He decided to open a Shabu Shabu since he realized that customers enjoyed eating meat but wanted less of the fat content. Within a few seconds of cooking, the fat from the beef slices will float to the surface.
A few interior touches create a modern décor. Warm orange red hues, dark wooden tables, and a slow moving wiker ceiling fan are nice touches that contribute to a modern décor. Walking past the stainless steel slicer in the front, I was kindly greeted by a friendly wait staff. After a quick glance at the limited menu, I ordered the large hot pot dinner and extra ramen.
Neatly lined up, a large plate of marbled beef slices play center role. For those who prefer lean slices, a special request can be made. Shabu Shabu often times is considered the fondu in Japanese culinary. More accurately, Shabu Shabu is all about the control in cooking. During the meal, the patron becomes the chef.
For those who enjoy tender beef slices, six seconds cooking in the hot pot will result in a blushing pink slice. A plate of colorful raw vegetable medley (cabbage, spinach, carrot, enoki mushroom, tofu) arrive rounding out a healthy meal.
Although the flavor is extremely subtle, the soup base contains seaweed. After the quick swish, the scorching beef can be cooled down with a dunk in their citrus ponzu sauce. For those who enjoy a full bodied fragrant sauce, the sesame dipping sauce is the better choice.
A few jars of condiments also add to the meal. For crunch, a few spoonfuls of finely chopped great onions will do the trick. Raddish creates a sweet cooling element in the citrus which chopped garlic add a spicy note. I found that the soup base to be too bland so a few spoonfuls of teriyaki sauce created a rich full bodied broth. Service is attentive and the wait staff often hovers to add more soup base.
Shabu Shabu is meant for customers to sample great slices of beef. Mochizuki spent several months trying to find the best purveyor of meat. He decided on using American Kobe, cow that were half Japanese and half Angus beef. He visited numerous farms and choose cow that were grass and grain fed. During his search, the restaurateur claims to have eaten several pounds of meat daily.
At only thirty six, he already owns two Subuway and a new fine dining Japanese restaurant called Hime on Lombard. Despite his success, he remembers the hard times. Seven years ago, he was broke and was kicked out of his apartment.
After living in his car for several months, he went back to work in the food industry and later gathered investors to open Shabuway. During the first six months of operation, he worked fifteen to sixteen hours a day often starting at 9am and working till 3am seven days a week.
Mochizuki believes that serving great foods is the core to his restaurants success. Before his grand opening four years ago, he invited several chefs and had countless taste test ensuring that the quality of the beef and flavors of the sauces meet great standards. Single diners are also greeted with an individual hot pot and television.