Costa Mesa: Cal Shabu (@calshabucm)

There’s so many Shabu places in SoCal, and yet Cal Shabu survives the test of time. I discovered the original California Shabu in Fountain Valley probably 15 years ago, after the original co-owner Taka, who worked at the Shabu Shabu House in Little Tokyo in downtown LA, opened his own store in the OC. Since then, the other co-owner Wayne opened this location in Costa Mesa, located in the shopping area next to M Nightclub (formerly the Shark Club).

Cal Shabu is OG. The other shabu places around LA and OC offers a variety of broths for an upcharge. Cal Shabu keeps it simple by offering “Konbu” kelp flavored water, optional hot drops, and other traditional toppings from shoyu (soy sauce), chili oil, green onions, garlic, and radish. I do believe they just started offering some flavored broth, but it’s not on the menu.

They offer plenty of variety of meats, from your typical beef variety (lean to marbled) chicken, pork, and seafood and different sizes from small to Donkey Kong sizes. The lady next to me had a large, and said it was quite sufficient. The server estimated it was about 9 ounces of meat. I went for the medium Choice Beef Rib Eye and while not extremely hungry, it did the job.

Don’t expect a ton of bells and whistles that other shabu places offers. They do offer alcohol, even happy hour, and a small selection of dessert. IMHO it’s not a 5-star experience, but it’s good, the staff is friendly (and a bit quick at clearing your eating area), and competitive in price.