A Shabu-Shabu for Me and You

Posted: January 6, 2012 by sirdiggy in food, life
Tags: , , ,

I usually like my birthday being in the beginning of January – I’m only three days removed from potentially having been a New Years Baby (how cool is that?).  Nevertheless, when the ball drops in Times Square at midnight, not only does it signify the grand finale of the holiday season, but the four-day countdown to my born day where I can look forward to another round of gifts… except for the years my parents emptied out their wallets for Christmas gifts which meant I had to wait until the end of January to score my birthday gifts.  Thankfully in my adult years my parent’s have been a bit more affluent, so the wait-til-the-end-of-the-month scenario hasn’t been in effect in years.

That last paragraph made it sound like I only focus on getting gifts, didn’t it?  I apologize (lol); the truth is, scoring gifts are nice, but being remembered is what truly warms my tender heart.* All the phone calls and Facebook shouts I got were amazing, considering I don’t think I could remember all the birthdays of the people who hit me up…

…wait… what do you mean Facebook has birthday alerts?  Dammit!  There goes my excuse.  Apologies again; I’m such a slacker.

OK, on to the burning question of what on earth did I do for my birthday.  Well, I went to work firstly; I don’t know of too many places that give you your birthday off, nor do I believe necessarily in taking the day off (though skipping out a bit early is another story, ha-ha).  My friend Jane, whom I met in grad school, invited me to dinner at a Chinese restaurant.  Being that I had not seen her in over two years despite us now living within the same metropolitan area, how could I say no?

So I made the long trek from Yonkers to 8th Avenue – in Brooklyn – to meet with my friend.  New York City in general has a LOT of ethnocentric neighborhoods, many of them famous.  However, because I had never been to this part of Brooklyn before, I had no clue where I was going.  So I get off the N-train at my destination, and it’s like a mini-Chinatown with all these stores with Chinese signage, and look – a mini-mall complete with a food court and supermarket.  Interesting.

So around 6:30pm, Jane catches up to me inside said mall.  We exchange warm embraces and looky here – another gift: a Chinese good-luck/fortune symbol for me to hang up back at the crib… who says I can’t do multicultural?  So she gives me a quick tour of the mall and shows me where she wanted to rent space for doing cultural shows and exhibits.  But the mall ownership gave the space to a higher bidder; those greedy bastards!

On to dinner: she tells me of this place one of her friends run that’s called a shabu shabu.  I’ve never heard of it, but she said they serve beef, chicken and pork there, so I said to myself “fuck it, let’s give it a whirl”.

“Diggy” you ask, “what the hell is a shabu shabu?”

Sounds like an illustration is in order.  Picture time, people!

This is your table.  The side items, such as veggies, dragon hair (clearish-looking angel hair made from rice), an egg, a piece or bread and a shiitake mushroom are served on the oval plate.

Those two round metal bowl-looking things you see are actually small pots built into the table.  The servers fill the pots with water and (and spices if you want a little kick to your dish), and hit a switch under the table to begin heating up the liquid.  What you do is dump the uncooked food into the water once it starts boiling.  Here, you see various meats and shrimp, which are the dishes you order.  These are served raw.

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This is the sauce station.  Jane was only too happy to whip a couple dipping mixtures together based off what we were going to eat.

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A wide shot of the inside the Slong Mini Shabu Shabu… 61st Street off 8th Avenue; Sunset Park, Brooklyn.

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So after some photo ops with Jane, her friend and myself, we were ready to eat!  It was definitely a different experience, and we won’t even get into my suckitude with chopsticks, though I managed to get most of the food in my mouth (versus on the table or floor even).

As for the food: I couldn’t really mess with the tofu (yuck), shiitake mushroom (acquired taste?) and some of the Chinese vegetables, but I really liked the dragon hair, the meat dumplings, the chicken, beef and fish (tilapia). The dipping sauces were a far cry from simply using the sauce packets supplied by your favorite Chinese food spot.  Overall, the meal was really good – an alternative way to enjoy many of the foods I eat regularly.  Healthy too.  Ganbei!

So to my good buddy Jane: thank you for the birthday dinner!  Trying different things and taking a couple of steps outside our comfort zones is one way to grow as a person and expand our minds.  I’ll have to go back someday, and concoct my own dipping sauces – because I like to experiment with my food (as my family will tell you, lol).

Ganbei! (again)

*Incidentally, my best friend never remembers the exact date of my birthday.  I’ll see if I can finagle a gift out of him when I visit him next month, heh.

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