Shabu Shabu was introduced to me back in 2000 when I lived in Korea. My Mom and I fell in love with the do-it-yourself simplicity of the meal, fantastic flavors and cozy "at home" atmosphere. That kind of thing is hard to duplicate and I've been hard-pressed to find a Shabu restaurant in the States that gives me the same kind of feeling.
I passed by a Shabu Shabu restaurant the other day and casually looked it up on Yelp to check out the reviews. What separated this spot was the ever-present mention of the "Hot Mama". Who was this "Hot Mamma" and why does every single person mention her in their reviews?! I was more than intrigued, so we decided to take the bf's Dad to Shabu the next night.
The place was tiny! Thank goodness we thought to make a reservation ahead of time. Once we sat down I just couldn't take it, I felt like I was about to meet Yoda and the anticipation was killing me!! Then I saw her, this small firecracker of a lady emerging from the kitchen..."Hot Mama" herself...in the flesh!
First, it was down to business...she walked us through the Japanese way to do Shabu Shabu (which means swish swish). It's so simple! Drop your meat or veggies into the boiling water and swish it around for literally just seconds, choose one of the housemade sauces to flavor, lay it over your rice and enjoy!
Once we were good to go, "Hot Mama" started coming to life! Throwing back shots of Sapporo w/ customers, telling us how we should always order the rib-eye not the chicken because the chicken was tough like her breasts (she literally said this!) and of course, showing us the many aprons that represent "Hot Mama's" various personalities. There's "Crazy Mama", "Drunk Mama", "Sexy Mama" and a few others that you have to see to believe...she is nuts!!
She was everything and more than I imagined and it became very clear to me that it wasn't just the quality meat that separates Shabu from the rest.
The meat is sliced paper-thin and melts in your mouth! "Hot Mama" only uses rib-eye and actually slices it herself.
Just pick it up with your chopsticks and dunk into the boiling broth.
Cabbage, Udon Noodles, Spinach, Enoki Mushrooms and Tofu for cooking.
Enoki Mushrooms...one of my faves.
Gyoza...LOVE the way they sear these!!
Rice with Shabu's famous "Hot Mama Sauce"...spicy but sooooo tasty!!
...and here's "Hot Mama", getting ready to start slicing!
I absolutely adore Shabu and "Hot Mama". We left with both our bellies and our hearts full :)
Shabu | 28715 Los Alisos Blvd. Mission Viejo, CA 92692
♥ Tip: Make sure you call for a reservation (even on a weekday!)
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