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Shabu-Shabu (swish swish)

Posted on: July 7th, 2010

Shabu-Shabu at Kisoji in Yamato, a well-known Japanese restaurant chain featuring local classics like shabu-shabu, sukiyaki, tempura, sushi, etc.  The vegetables here clockwise from left are mizuna, napa cabbage, bean sprouts, wakame (sea vegetable) and shiitake – in the center are carrots, noodles, enoki and asatsuki (similar to scallion).

Shabu-Shabu literally means “swish-swish”, and a quick swish in stock is all it takes to maximize the luscious decadence of rich wagyu (Kobe) beef.  Diners surround a pot of water or stock, adding vegetables a few at a time from slowest cooking to fastest and intermittently savoring buttery-rich slices of beef-buttah!  This is one of my favorite Japanese meals; it’s interestingly interactive, healthy and delicious!


Richly marbled Wagyu beef sliced super-thin for shabu-shabu.  This is a middle grade of Wagyu cut from the NY Strip.

Shabu-shabu is the ultimate dish for showing off premium Japanese Wagyu beef (often called Kobe beef here in the states) and premium Kurobuta pork (‘black hog’, an heirloom breed originally from England that is prized by the Japanese and pork lovers around the world).  The ultimate homage to well-marbled beef; thin slices are briefly swished in the boiling stock and served in ponzu or a creamy sesame sauce.  Americans grill their beefsteaks – so our growers harvest wagyu at a much younger age and less advanced stage of marbling (Japanese wagyu would grill up tough and greasy).  The Kobe beef we sell at Tony’s is domestically raised and far less expensive than Japanese.  We also offer Kurobuta hams.
Kurobuta pork leg and belly (belly is hiding under the leg slices and peeking out on the bottom right side of the plate) for Shabu-shabu at Kurobutaya Restaurant in Yokohama Station.


Kurobutaya is a pork shabu-shabu restaurant – here you choose two of four available soup bases.  We had the white pork bone stock (which I ate with Yuzu Kosho paste; yuzu zest and spicy sansho pepper) and the red chile stock (which I ate sprinkled with sea salt and Shichimi Togarashi, a blend of 7 Japanese chiles).  A few side dish pictures from Kisoji follow…


Above Top: A summer salad with grilled eggplant, pickled myoga (pickled ginger sprout), asparagus, steamed hard squash, lotus root, radicchio, lettuces and an oil free yuzu and shoyu dressing.

Above: Ju-ni koku mai (Japanese rice with a variety of 12 whole grains).

Left: What is a meal without dessert!  My daughter Stephanie’s Matcha Shiratama (green tea ice cream with soft mochi and sweet red beans)

Eating Shabu-Shabu:
Once the stock comes to a boil, swish one slice of meat per person to enrich the stock, and then transfer to one of the sauces (creamy sesame or ponzu is used for beef) and enjoy.  Then you can start adding vegetables from slower cooking to quicker cooking.  Veggies can be added a few at a time, or all at once and enjoyed with the meat in any way you like.  Intermittently the stock needs to be skimmed with the provided ladle.  Once the meat and veggies are gone, you can order noodles to cook in the stock.

The ingredients to make shabu-shabu are hard to come by in Denver, unless you know your Japanese markets well and have a garden full of Japanese vegetables.  There is a ‘Shabu-esque’ restaurant in the Aurora triangle (or at least there used to be) called J-Shabu.  If you’ve never had Shabu-shabu before, it can be a fun experience, but keep in mind that it’s a far cry from genuine Japanese Shabu-shabu.  There is also a Lakewood restaurant called Kobean that has shabu-shabu on the menu, I’ve never been there, but it’s on my list.  Konnichiwa y’all!


  1. Yummy! Sounds delightful and the pictures are fabulous!

    Thank you.

  2. Lea Ann says:

    I love that divided soup bowl. Gotta find some to buy. Beautiful photos. Green tea ice cream is delicious. I've only had it once at Kokoro and want to find a good reicpe to make at home.

  3. I saw one once at H Mart in the Aurora triangle – hard to say for sure, things come and go there. Another place to look is Pacific Ocean at Zuni and Alemeda

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