If it’s My Way, It’s Shabuway
Since I discovered a newly opened Shabuway – the Japanese hot-pot dining experience in San Francisco – every time someone is musing about where to go for a casual relaxing dinner shared with friends, my hand jumps up without hesitation, “I know! Shabuway!”
I love everything about this place – the minimalist classy décor based on red, white, and black of Japanese lacquers and calligraphy; the exceedingly attentive service – efficient and friendly in a calm, unhurried way. Most importantly – the shabu-shabu “fast” food concept, based on self-reliance and sharing, with a bubbling hot pot in the middle of the table and platefuls of aged meats and fresh vegetables to be dipped in boiling broth and consumed in a circle of people with whom you want to spend this quality time on a foggy San Francisco night.
To myself, I pronounce shabu-shabu as “shove-shove,” because it really means a quick movement with which you should dip your very thinly sliced meat into the hot broth, and then pull it out before it gets overcooked. However, since you and your chopsticks rule the game, make it from medium-rare to well-done any way you want. To get the juiciest tender pliable slice of pork, beef, or lamb, swish it around the pot for a few seconds, and enjoy.
The meats at Shabuway are all purchased in pallets from top producers like Niman Ranch, and are aged, trimmed, frozen at extremely low temperatures, and sliced at the in-house refrigeration facilities. Diners choose Prime Angus, American Kobe beef, American Kobe Lean beef, Niman Ranch lamb, Berkshire Kurobuta pork, or a combination of the above.
The broth for the hot pot comes in two varieties – traditional seaweed or newly-invented spicy miso – or both – in the same pot with a median divider. Side orders include udon or ramen noodles, tofu, and vegetables, like Napa cabbage, bok choy, spinach, asparagus, broccoli, kabocha squash, carrots, and enoki and shimeji mushrooms.
Although both seaweed and spicy miso broths lend subtle flavors to the meat and vegetables, no shabu-shabu bite should go without a dipping sauce, and the restaurant provides two – Ponzu (citrus and soy) aged with dried shiitake mushrooms, bonito flakes, and kelp seaweed, and Gomadare (sesame) blended with 17 other herbs and spices. The sauces and the condiments of chopped green onion, garlic, and chili paste with grated daikon enhance the taste of the meats to ultimate umami.
There are currently five other Bay Area Shabuway locations, in San Jose, San Mateo, Mountain View, Union City, and Santa Clara – a great testament to the success of the proprietor Eiichi Mochizuki, a native of Japan.
The restaurant serves hot and cold sake, beer, and soft drinks, and offers a kids’ menu. Shabuway in San Francisco is located at 5120 Geary Boulevard. Open Tuesday through Friday from 11:30 am to 2 pm and 5:30 to 10 pm, on Saturday from 12 pm to 10 pm and on Sunday from 12 pm to 9 pm. Call (415) 668-6080 or visit their website.