HOME FOOD How to eat Japanese Shabu Shabu

How to eat Japanese Shabu Shabu

First of foremost, if the name Shabu Shabu sounds something like a rare Japanese dog brand you are greatly mistaken. To put it simply this peculiar sounding words are actually an exquisite Japanese dish made from fresh vegetables cooked together with paper-thin slices of tender meat cooked in a large pot, the sound that comes while the pot is stirring sounds surprisingly like shabu hence the peculiar name. Interestingly enough shabu deters from other meals named nabemono considering that the ingredients are served rather raw and cooked tableside during a meal which resembles fondue.

The origin of eating hot pot was established in Osaka in the 1950s but ever since it started it amass a gross following of a large percentage of people all across Japan and even nationwide. The best place where you can get Shabu Shabu Is at a specialized restaurant or perhaps in the comforts of your own home. There are two varieties of Shabu Shabu and depending on the season they are made they can be Rei shabu or Hiyashi. In our article, we would like to demonstrate proper manners and etiquette when ordering the more popular Hiyashi version of shabu at specialized restaurants which serve nothing but the best shabu available.


The very first thing you will be presented with after ordering is a pot of broth carefully positioned on a burner on your table and then a large bowl with the broth. Be advised that this is not some form of Aintree that you are supposed to have before the main course, many people make this mistake and drink the broth before the main dish is served. After some time you will notice that the broth reaches a boiling point and that’s when you need to move it from the cooker cause it’s time for your vegetables and meat to be added. Shabu-Shabu broth is best cooked while It’s starting to simmer.

2.What to choose

What’s interesting about Shabu Shabu in general is that you can customize your dish with any vegetables you like but at the restarant your vegetables will be brought for you instead and they usually include cabbage, mushrooms, carrots and daikon most of them are in the broth already, people sometimes detest when the broth in the plate evoparates due to the heat before the meat and ingridients are ready and they recieve more water In the process but they fail to realize that even though the water dissipitates the taste of broth will go unchanged and the balance will be preserved.

3.Relishing the meat

how,to,eat,Shabu shabu

Unlike the Chinese traditional hot pot which has been previously filled with vegetable and meat the Japanese Shabu Shabu, requires that you need to do some work yourself. Kurobuta pork, Wagyu beef and sometimes udon and dumplings will need to be cooked in the broth using a pair of tongs and an extra pair chopstick should you need them. What you need to do is place the meat into your broth once it reaches its boiling point and insert it into the broth for a mere 10 seconds automatically cooking it at the right temperature. The meat is sliced so thinly that overcooking might result by accident and you should try to avoid this.

4.Adding Vegetables


Time for the vegetables to sink in! People sometimes make a common mistake by literally dumping everything into the hot bowl and then they run the risk of overcooking the meat as we previously noted. At restaurants, you will be presented with a timer but it’s your personal preference on how much time you want everything to be cooked. The traditional time for carrots, cabbage, and bok choy should be around three minutes and udon should be dipped only for a couple of seconds. If you have ordered dumplings leave them for at least 5 minutes since they need more time to be cooked.


At Specialized Shabu Shabu restaurants a variety of dipping sauces also come with your meal. Some are intended for spicing up meat and some are suited for vegetables. Ponzu citrus soy, for example, is used for vegetables and creamy sesame usually goes with meat but some people like to mix things around and you shouldn’t be discouraged to do, however, we suggest that for your first time you stick to the traditional way of seasoning. The broth is delicately balanced so it’s not uncommon to over spice or creates a mixture which muddies the taste and leaves little room for a delicate tasting of the ingredients themselves. Mixing both of the dipping sauce and the spice intended for meat will often make this happen so be cautious when spicing.

6.A side dish equally important

With certain orders, you will without a doubt receive a bowl of rice as a side dish. What is a common misconception among experienced shabu shabu enjoyers and beginners as well is that they will often ask for an additional bowl for the shabu shabu. The rice is intended to rest the shabu and absorb the juices from the meat and make them in the exquisite tasting like. So the right way to take your rice is to add vegetables and meat onto it until you exhaust them and then finally drink your broth with the rice.

7.Things to consider

The way Shabu Shabu is cooked is meant to enhance the taste of quality meat. This meat is considered among the top high-end brands In Japan. So the meal might be a bit expensive for some but the delicacy of enjoying it and the health benefits often topple it by a landslide. Some restaurants offer excellent Wagyu beef at good prices so try to inform yourself on a couple of Shabu Shabu restaurants before settling into one. We should also note that using tongs is considered unorthodox and by using the chopsticks which you will be provided for both adding vegetables and meat into the hot dish and eating is the best way to do it.

This pretty sums the whole Shabu Shabu restaurant eating process. Please don’t get discouraged by the complexity of the steps needed to fully enjoy the deal we promise you it’s well worth it, on a side note consider venturing to  the restaurant with friends and family because it’s somewhat considered disrespectful to the chef if you leave some food on your plate, by bringing others with you are guaranteed that nothing will go to waste and that way everyone will be satisfied, most importantly try to enjoy your meal and not worry too much as this is equally important as the meal itself. Have fun!