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You either buy the idea of shabu shabu, or you don't. If you do, though, you'll find Shabu Shabu Bar rises to the top like the meats you'll boil. Nippy nights are the busiest, often with waits as long as an hour. Tissue-thin meats—mostly of the bovine variety, from rib-eye to the excessively exorbitant Kobe, but also including chicken and shrimp—are fanned out like petals to be plucked and swished around in roiling pots of water. The particularly carnivorous should attempt the Yokozuna, a $50 mountain of meat that looks much like those giant papier-mâché volcanos kids make for grade-school science projects. Another thing that endears the place to its fans: For a DIY joint, you get more service at Shabu Shabu Bar than you would at a normal sit-down. Servers skim the scum from your pot, mix your sauces, serve rice, make conversation, and even prepare your noodle soup with the now-flavorful water once you've finished cooking your meat. If anything, this might even silence any remaining shabu shabu naysayers for good.
A lot of people aren't sold on the shabu shabu idea. To paraphrase Bill Murray in Lost In Translation, what kind of restaurant makes you cook your own food? But some are enamored with the concept of swishing meat around a boiling pot. These are the same types who enjoy 1,000-piece puzzles: those who endeavor to do something not because it is easy, but because they can. Shabu Shabu Bar is more than happy to indulge them in the pleasure of doing it themselves. It even allows diners to... More »
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