I’ve been on a serious Asian food kick lately. My first craving a few weeks ago was not satisfied, and I just cannot get enough since then. So when Adam suggested yesterday that we get together with a few friends to check out Shabu Zen in Allston, I instantly agreed. I love the healthy and fun concept of a Shabu-shabu Japanese do-it-yourself hotpot, and this particular restaurant received great reviews.
After way too much time spent looking for parking, we finally decided to just stay in the restaurant’s parking lot and wait for someone to leave. Luckily, we didn’t have to sit in the car for too long before someone finally moved their car. The whole parking situation was quite stressful, but a beer (or a glass of Riesling in my case) was the perfect way to take the edge off and mark the beginning of the weekend.
J. Lohr “Bay Mist” Riesling
This was a sweet fruity wine that paired perfectly with the spicy food.
All five of us were shabu-shabu virgins but the waitress kindly (and patiently) explained the concept and the menu to us. I think at the end we did a great job ordering! 😀
A picture of the room we were in, probably 1/4 of the restaurant – it was huge!
I started with the squid salad, which tasted exactly like the squid salad I had at Samurai a few weeks ago. The portion was small, but it was so delicious. I loved the marinated squid – so much flavor!
We got half a pot with Spicy Chinese broth and half with Shabu-Zen’s standard chicken broth. Can you guess which one is the spicy one? 😉
Both were great, although the Spicy Chinese broth had one spice that I wasn’t crazy about. I think next time I’d order the tom yum broth but I was out-voted this time. 😀
Each person got a little dish with soy sauce…
… to which we could add any of these extras – garlic, scallions, red pepper flakes and Japanese bbq sauce
I added all but the scallions. It was the perfect flavoring agent for the veggies and fish. I loved that each person could customize their own dipping sauce.
All meal combos came with a plate of veggies which included 3 types of mushrooms, broccoli, radishes, carrots, lettuce, cabbage, tofu and tofu skin
+ a choice of udon noodles, rice or vermicelli noodles. Adam and I choice the udon noodles (they were individual size portions so we actually ended up ordering another one of these – one each)
And we went with the surf & turf combo – scallops, prawns, salmon, cod, squid, clam, and fish cake + a choice of beef, pork, chicken or lamb. We went with pork. As soon as the food arrived, we started throwing stuff in the hot pot. SO cool!!
Our seafood plate:
The pork (thinly sliced for quick cooking)
SO MUCH FOOD
Working hard for our food 😆
Clearly, we all hated it. 😉
All right, all right – we were all very happy campers
I forgot to mention that the waitress mid-way also brought 2 nice dipping sauces for the meat – a peanut sesame sauce and a thai sweet and spicy sauce. Both were indeed fabulous with the meat.
This was a really fun interactive dinner. We all loved playing with our food and the service and the quality of everything at Shabu-Zen were great. Have you ever been to a shabu-shabu restaurant?
For other restaurant suggestions, check our my Restaurant Reviews page.