216 E 10th St
(between 2nd Ave & 1st Ave)
New York, NY 10003
Shabu Tatsu serves up traditional shabu shabu, aka. Japanese hot pot. Its name comes from the sound of swishing your meats in the hot water. Unlike Chinese hot pot, shabu shabu is much lighter. It uses a dashi broth made from just hot water and seaweed. Chinese hot pot is heavier and often uses a hearty pork bone broth or an extremely spicy beef stock with various seasonings. I prefer Japanese hot pot because the light broth cooks the meat and vegetables without masking their natural flavors. Though, because the broth has no real seasoning effects, you need very fresh ingredients and deliciously fragrant dipping sauces. Normally shabu shabu is served with ponzu sauce and a sesame sauce. In addition to the sauces, Shabu Tatsu also brought freshly chopped scallions and daikon to mix in.
We ordered the Prime Rib-Eye Beef Shabu-Shabu Dinner Course, which was $26 per person. $26 is a lot to pay for cooking yourself some veggies and meat in a boiling pot of hot water, but Shabu Tatsu really showed me how it is completely worth it. The set included an amazing vegetable platter and of course, a big plate of prime rib-eye. The vegetables were extremely fresh – no stringy veggies to be found. The veggie platter also included tofu and Kishimen (wide and flat wheat noodles) and Malony (fat, rounded, and translucent noodles made of potato and corn starch).
The prime rib-eye was cut in the perfect thickness (not thin to the point of papery non-existence… something you find in some shabu places… but still thin enough to be cooked in just a few seconds… and thick enough to taste like meaty meat). Because shabu meats are served raw, they have to be high enough quality to be eaten raw… this is definitely not enforced in certain places. Shabu Tatsu’s meat is very high quality, smooth and did not contain any knots or stringy bits.
Once the broth begins to boil, you can start to cook your ingredients. There is somewhat of an unstated ritual when eating shabu (and I get annoyed when people don’t like to follow it). It’s nice to start with some meat to flavor the broth for the veggies. After you’ve cooked a couple pieces of meat (which only takes a few seconds, even less if you like your meat a little rare), you can add as much veggies as you like. Certain vegetables take longer to cook so those usually go in first (such as carrots and various stalks). You then dip your cooked goods in your sauces and eat with a bowl of gleaming rice. Rice isn’t always part of the shabu experience but was part of the set menu we picked. I was happily surprised to see that their rice was high quality: the rice was slightly sticky but you could still differentiate the grains in each bite.
After most of the veggies and meat are gone, you throw in the noodles to finish up. The waiters here were very observant and always filled our waters before the glasses were empty, cleaned our pot periodically (you shouldn’t eat the foam that floats on the broth from the meat fat), and knew just when we were about to begin our noodle experience because little soup dishes filled with salt and pepper were brought to our table instantly. Normally, you would just dunk your noodles into your sauces and slurp it right up. I appreciated the little soup dishes because I was able to create my own bowl of soup noodles. It was nice and light, a great way to finish an already healthy meal.
We finished up the meal with red bean and green tea ice cream. There was nothing special about the ice cream… both were a little too sweet for my taste. My favorite green tea ice cream is from Häagen-Dazs because it is deliciously bitter…
All in all, this was a fantastic meal. The food was hearty, filling, healthy, fun to eat, and the service was impeccable. Check it out before the weather gets too warm for hot pot!!