Friday, January 15, 2010
Brrr!! It's Cold... Time for Some Hot Pot Shabu Shabu
Jazz Cat's sparkly sign
I hate cold weather, which is why I live in L.A. I expect 70 degree Sunny weather everyday because that's how weather should be. When the weather drops below 70, I consider it cold, which is why I love Shabu Shabu/ Hot Pot. Shabu Shabu- means swishy swishy in Japanese.
It's the motion of you cooking your meat in a swishy motion that gives it its name. How appropriate right? Awesome. Today's post I will introduce 3 different types of hot pot for your dining pleasure! Stop 1: Jazz Cat, a Taiwanese Shabu Shabu Place in the San Gabriel Valley. Address: 121 East Valley Blvd. San Gabriel, CA 91776
Jazz Cat serves Taiwanese hot pot. For about $12-15 per person you get your own mini hot pot. You choose between 2/3 pages of different types of broths and then choose what type of meat you would like with it. Angus Beef, Beef, Chicken, Lamb, Pork, etc. Then each pot comes with rice, an raw egg, your meat, veggies, noodles, mushrooms, fish paste, fish balls, tofu, etc. Box 1 is a picture of the Japanese Spicy Soup and the right is a picture of the Jazz Cat House Speciality Soup. You are also given sesame sauce to dip your meats in when they are done. The Japanese Spicy Miso soup is very authentic. This is probably because Japan occupied Taiwan back in the day so it's always a safe bet that Taiwanese joints have awesome Japanese food. The Jazz Cat Special had a sweet tasty broth and wasn't spicy. This was definitely enough food and a pretty good price considering you can drink all the soup too when you are done with your meats. The best part is that this place is open until 12:30 in the morning-perfect for all you insomniacs.
Here's the order of salt and pepper calamari we picked up too.
My biggest complaint about Jazz Cat is that ever since their new shop opened they got rid of their 2 page long drinks menu. They used to have the best passionfruit green tea and baked milk tea. This place has since replaced all their amazing drinks with alcoholic beverages. Stupid! Who the hell wants to drink alcohol with their shabu shabu anyways? Well the people I went with did apparently. But still- If anyone from Jazz Cat is reading this, change it back please! Jazz Cat also has great Kimchi Hot pots too that are really good. Definitely worth coming here. Okay, next stop!
This is Happy Sheep Hot Pot in San Gabriel. Address: 227 West Valley Blvd. San Gabriel, CA 91776. One word-ghettofabulous. So this place was the typical Little Fat Sheep Hot Pot place but was bought out by people who decided to call themselves Happy Sheep. The people changed their name to Happy Lamb but that's about it. The signs and their uniforms still have their other name. They were too lazy to do anything about it. What's the point of changing your name when you're not gonna do anything else about it? Weird... So this is Mongolian Hot Pot. Mongolia is super cold so they eat hot pot all the time. Unlike Jazz Cat, you have a communal shared hot pot that can be split in the middle so that you can choose from at maximum 2 different broths. What's different about Mongolian style hot pot is that their broth has a very distinctive taste. They are all made with lots of traditional herbs so the broth is definitely an acquired taste. The left broth is spicy and the right is not. Both are delicious though!
Unlike Jazz Cat's plate of food, Happy Sheep's has much more traditonal foods in it. I got the lamb, whereas my mom got beef. You have Dou Miu (chinese veggies), mushrooms, tofu skin, seaweed, dumplings, meat balls, fish balls, etc. The trick to eating here is actually to go before 3 PM and ask for their lunch special. These plates are their lunch specials which have a bit of everything. I know someone that went at night and they ended up paying $75 for 3 people because they charge differently when it's not lunch. You pay individually for the soup and then per plate. Wow. Mom and I ended up paying $7 each. Gotta love the mother and her deals!
You also have a choice of 4 different sauces for your hot pot here. My favorite was their sesame sauce. Yum and all for $7! Okay next stop!
This is hot pot from Little Fat Sheep, which was the other Mongolian place I was talking about above. This is when my mother and I went past lunch time so we had to pay a lot more than $7. This place was good as well but same goes for here as well as at Happy Sheep- only go during lunch if you don't want a hefty bill! Address: 120 South Atlantic Blvd. Monterey Park, CA 91754. Okay next stop... Japanese Shabu Shabu!
Kagaya is located in a little strip mall in Little Tokyo is amazing and also expensive! The dinner comes with 3 pre-selected appetizers, the shabu shabu, noodles or porridge made with the soup you cooked your meat in, and dessert. Expect to spend $100 per person if you decide to order the expensive stuff. Address if you are interested: 418 East 2nd St. Los Angeles, CA 90012.
Box 1 was tuna in ponzu sauce and Box 2 was duck in miso soup. Kagaya hand makes their wasabi and miso soup. So so good. I had this meal back in August and I'm still drooling just looking at these pictures.
Here comes the pricing variation. The beef in the back of the picture is $40 prime rib. It melts in your mouth. Keep in mind, the $40 beef comes with dessert, and 3 appetizers as well as odon noodles or porridge. The pinkish beef in front is the $128 plate of premium Wagyu beef. Yes $128! I thought that $40 beef melted in my mouth.... the $128 dissolved onto your tongue and left me smiling. Whatever meat you choose, you get your own individual hot pot just like Jazz Cat, however the brother is only made up of water.
Here's a picture of how everything looks like.
Just when you thought you couldn't get any more full, the chef asks you whether you would like your soup broth turned into odon or porridge aka okayu. Left is the odon and right is the okayu.
And there's still dessert! Each day there are about 5 desserts that they chefs hand make. We were so full by then we almost didn't want to get dessert. Thank goodness I knew better and ordered dessert even though I was so full I was feeling sick. Box 1 is a Green Tea Cheesecake Topped with Red Bean. Amazing! I would pay $40 just for that dessert. Box 2 was the also very delicious Creme Brulee topped with Vanilla Ice cream. Wow! What a great meal that was! Kagaya was definitely an expensive trip, but honestly it's not so bad if you think about it. If you get the most basic $40 beef meal, it includes 5 dishes! If $40 for 5 dishes is still over your budget and you like Japanese style Shabu Shabu, I would suggest Shabu Shabu House located across the street from Kagaya in the Japanese Village Plaza. It's about $15 for Shabu Shabu and they give you rice. It's delicious and won't put a dent in your wallet.
So this post covered 3 different types of Hot Pot Places. We had Taiwanese with Jazz Cat, Mongolian with Happy Sheep and Little Fat Sheep, and Japanese with Kagaya. All of them were delicious in their own ways. You really can't go wrong! So I guess it means you'll just have to try them all! I leave you with a picture of another type of hot pot: Chinese hot pot.
For the price, the Chinese hot pot meal I had above was the best bang for my buck. My mom's friend owns a Hong Kongese restaurant in Monterey Park and she decided to throw a hot pot dinner party using her restaurant. She went out and bought the freshest ingredients and even handmade shrimp and fish balls at her restaurant. You can see the beef, sausages, fish balls, beef balls, squid, veges, fish, chicken, pork, etc. It was so good and she only charged us for how much she paid for the ingredients, which was less than $15. So that brings our total to 4 different types of shabu shabu in this post! Have fun and be sure to try all 4 of them before you can rightfully say you've tasted hot pot before because they all taste very different!
Happy Shabu Shabu[ing] Swishy Swishy[ing]!