Shin Sen Gumi is a Japanese restaurant chain, located throughout Southern California. They are known more for their ramen, but they have various restaurants which specializes in different Japanese cuisines:
- Yakitori – skewered meats that’s grilled over char-coaled wood
- Hakata Ramen – specialized ramen noodles hailing from Hakata city
- Chanko – a hot pot style meal
- Shabu Shabu / Sukiyaki – thin slices of meats and vegetables cooked in a pot
- Robata – similar to yakitori, grilled seafood and other meats
On Christmas Eve, my friend Roger invited us to the Shabu shabu location in Gardena. Fortunately, we picked a very good day to have lunch, as they were offering a Christmas lunch special of Kobe Round beef for $9.50. We couldn’t pass up on this great deal and decided to get the Christmas special.
What is Shabu shabu?
Shabu shabu means “swish” in Japanese and is a traditional Japanese style hot pot. It is prepared by briefly submerging a very thin slice of meat, or a slice of vegetable and tofu, in a pot of boiling water. Once the meat and vegetables have been cooked, they can be dipped in ponzu (citrus) sauce or sesame sauce, and eaten with rice.
The cooking can be done family style, where everyone uses the same cooking pot, or in many restaurants, each person has their own cooking pot. The pot is traditionally water, but many places are now offering seasoned broth like sukiyaki or miso flavor.
Our lunch special was larger than I thought, with 14 slices of meat. The vegetables were adequate, but it was just napa cabbage, 2 quartered mushrooms, 2 cubes of tofu, sprigs of green onions, 2 thin carrots and an ounce of udon noodles. Perhaps the portion at lunch is substantially smaller?
The food was good, and the lunch price was fair. I was shocked to learn that if you ask for extra sauce, they charge you 50 cents! You would think that you can get 1 refill and then they’ll charge you extra. That was disappointing.
Overall a good experience, but its pricey compared to other places I’ve been to. For the Shin-Sen-Gumi franchise, I prefer their ramen noodles restaurant more than their Shabu shabu.