To the tourist who loves Japanese food, perhaps shabu shabu is not on the top five list of foods to eat. There's ramen, tonkatsu, soba, tempura and of course sushi and sashimi -- all of which are best eaten right at the source, i.e. anywhere in Japan.
On last week's business trip to Tokyo, I was wandering around Ginza at dinner time, trying to decide where my first "welcome back to Japan" meal would be when this well lit doorway caught my eye.
Ginzasyabutsuu is a shabu shabu restaurant that I later learned from the website Gurunavi is famous because it invented "all-you-can-eat" shabu shabu. In other words, shabu shabu kuidaore or eat-until-you're-ruined as they like to say in Osaka. The restaurant is in the basement so you have to walk down a narrow staircase.
The menu is in Japanese but there is a one-page english menu for the gaijin. You can choose from all you can eat courses of five types of meats or a more expansive (and expensive) version that includes more varieties plus Japanese black beef and a special domestic chicken.
Nothing starts a meal better than beer. I ordered the medium nama beer, in this case the restaurant's beer on tap is from Kirin.
We're lucky we snagged the last few seats at the counter. The restaurant is not that big, just a few booths in the back, all of them completely full.
"Shabu shabu" is onomatopoeic. They say it is the sound you make when you swish the meat around in the boiling water. All I could hear though was the grumbling of my hungry stomach.
Once you've finished the meat on your plate, the waitstaff bring a small bowl of udon noodles with a side of tanuki and chopped green onions. The remaining broth from the shabu shabu pot is then skimmed and strained of any bits of meat and is poured on the noodles, thus creating an instantly flavourful udon bowl.
A small scoop of yuzu flavoured sherbet ended the meal and was the perfect way to cleanse the palate of any lingering beefy aftertastes.
Ginzasyabutsuu was a lucky find for my first meal on this trip to Tokyo.
I hope I can find my way back next time!