April 08, 2014

Restaurant: Shabu Zen, Allston, MA

Everything together
Shabu Zen is a "hot pot" restaurant in Allston. Hot pot is a style of cooking/eating that is common in a few Asian countries, especially Japan and China. Shabu Zen is more Japanese than Chinese, in my opinion. Most of the broths at Shabu Zen don't have a lot of Chinese herbs/spices, except the Chinese Herbal broth (duh). In addition to hot pot, they have sushi and other entrees, but the majority of the people who frequent this restaurant will have the hot pot.
The easiest way to order here is using one of their set menus, which usually include a meat (or tofu for vegetarian option), a selection of veggies, a choice of broths, and a bowl of rice or noodles. The house broth is included in the price; additional broths for the table can be added on for a small price.
Kimchi broth (left) and house broth (right).
The way you eat hot pot is simple--the idea is that the broth is boiling in the middle of the table, and vegetables/meat are put in for long enough to be cooked. It's similar to fondue. My friends and I tend to just dump a ton of veggies in and let them simmer, as it adds to the flavor of the broth. This may be super Korean, not sure if I've ever seen non-Korean people do this, hah. Then, the meat and veggies are eaten after being dipped in a soy-based sauce. (Protip: you can request "sesame sauce", which is a traditional Japanese hot pot sauce. They won't bring this out to you unless you ask, though.)

Seasonings for dipping sauce - green onion, garlic, hot peppers, and a fishy(?) sauce that I've only seen at hot pot restaurants. If anyone can identify the last sauce by name, please leave a comment!
Veggies w/ meat combo
The meat is sliced pretty thin (sliced frozen) and will cook in about 30 seconds, if the broth is boiling or close. I don't recommend leaving the meat to simmer like the veggies, unless you order chicken or another type of meat that requires full cooking.

Beef combo!
Hot pot is amazing, especially in the cold cold unending Boston winters. If you've never had it before, I recommend you check it out!
Shabu Zen
(Allston location)
80 Brighton Ave
Allston, MA 02134
Price: $$
Taste: 4/5
Service: 4/5
Value: 4/5
HHR Rating: Great hot pot

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