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Non-brunch Reviews

Non-brunch Reviews

Shabu House

shabu house

Shabu House is a chain of shabu shabu restaurants in and near San Francisco, and we visited the one at 354 Clement in the Inner Richmond. There’s nothing especially exciting about the location or decor – it’s got the usual shabu setup of shared tables with hot pots in the middle – but it was generally clean and pleasant.

The Bottomless

As usual, we make an exception here at Brunch Club for shabu shabu restaurants that follow our most sacred principle of having all you can drink service. In this case, the deal is all you can eat and drink for $46 with meat or $36 with vegetarian. Two hour limit on that, and it includes Asahi, Kirin, Sapporo and their house sake, served cold.

The Food

Shabu House gives you three options for broth – water (boring), spicy miso and ginger chicken. We had enough space for two pots, so we chose the latter two options. The ginger chicken had a subtle ginger flavor, but beyond that the two honestly weren’t that different.

Your meat choices include beef (which they call “American style Kobe beef,” an utterly meaningless description), lamb and pork. All excellent, though I’m not a big fan of pork at shabu; I prefer fattier meats. The vegetarian items were the usual shabu fare – a couple kinds of noodles, mushrooms, cabbage and tofu. Rice is available upon request.

We learned at the end that your all you can eat and drink came with ice cream, but we’d all eaten too much to bother with it.

The Service

Very solid – beers came out regularly, and while we occasionally had to ask for more sake, it always came back immediately. Meat service was similar; not quite as fast as what you get at Mums, but fast enough for me to be uncomfortably full after about an hour (not that that stopped me from continuing to eat for the remaining hour).

Overall

Shabu House is a good shabu option, especially if you live out in the boonies that are the Richmond. There are also locations in West Portal, Burlingame and Milpitas for you even more suburban folks. Good food and good times!

Rating: 🍾🍾🍾🍾

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Non-brunch Reviews

Happy Shabu Shabu

happy shabu shabu

In case you’re not familiar with the concept of shabu shabu, I’ll refer you to the introduction of my review of Mums Cafe. The short version is that you get a big pot of boiling broth and a plate of raw meat, then you cook said meat in said broth and wake up the next day with meat sweats. It’s pretty great.

Happy Shabu Shabu, like Mums, does all you can eat and drink for a fixed fee, ergo its place on this site. You’ll find it in Western Addition on Fillmore between O’Farrell and Eddy.

Outside you’ll see one large picnic-style table – if you make a large (10+) reservation, this is likely where you’ll end up. Inside, you’ve got the bar and then a few tables, most of which are organized a bit strangely. They’re split in half with a big gap in the middle – this is helpful for the service staff, since they can easily get to the pot of broth without reaching over you, but it means that especially when it’s crowded, you’ll have to shout at your dinner companions on the other side.

The Bottomless

All you can eat and drink is $39.95 and includes beer (Sapporo and Asahi) and sake. You can tell the quality of the sake because rather than give it to you in its original bottle or even a ceramic sake bottle, they serve it what can be accurately described as a plastic jug. It doesn’t scream high class, but let’s be honest – you didn’t come here for an elevated dining experience. You do get to choose between warm or cold, though, so there’s that.

Two hour limit on this one, but I’ve always been borderline food comatose by the end and thus haven’t tested whether they’d enforce it. I suspect they wouldn’t if the place isn’t especially full.

The Food

Your all you can eat comes with beef, pork, veggies, noodles and chicken (but maybe don’t order a heaping plate of raw chicken). These are all fine – nothing extraordinary about them, but honestly cooking anything in a sodium-filled broth makes it delicious.

The Service

I’ve been here a few times, and it really depends on the day. Sometimes they’re well staffed and incredibly attentive. Other times they’ve been understaffed, and it was a struggle to get more food and drinks despite a fairly empty restaurant.

I came here on my birthday once with about 30 people. The owner came out with a bottle, kept repeating “fire water” in broken English and making me drink shots out of it. The rest of the night is… hazy, but I’d count that as solid hospitality.

Overall

If you can get a reservation at Mums, just go there. If you can’t, this is an acceptable substitute.

Rating: 🍾🍾🍾

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Non-brunch Reviews

Mums Cafe

mums cafe

Continuing this week with non-brunch bottomless restaurants, we have Mums Cafe, home to some of the best shabu shabu in San Francisco. It’s located in the Kimpton Buchanan Hotel (formerly known as Hotel Momo) in Japantown.

In case you’re unfamiliar with shabu shabu, it’s up there with sushi as one of Japan’s great culinary inventions. First you get a large pot of broth (the exact type depends from restaurant to restaurant, but miso broth is pretty common), along with a few things to season it with – at Mums Cafe, these are their homemade spicy sauce, garlic, jalapenos and radish paste.

While you stir the seasonings in and wait for the broth to come to a boil, the staff will bring out raw meat – again, types vary by restaurant, but beef is the staple – along with an assortment of vegetables and noodles. You put these into the broth until they’re cooked, then eat! “Shabu shabu” translates literally to “swish swish,” as that’s the motion you’re supposed to make with the meat when it’s in the broth.

Besides the fact that it’s generally delicious, shabu’s appeal comes from the fact that many places that serve it offer all you can eat and drink menus. Mums Cafe is, naturally, one of those, so you’ll find me there once a month or so.

The Bottomless

The all you can eat and drink will run you $42.95 for 90 minutes, which, trust me, is more than enough to get your fill. You’ll get Japanese beer by the large bottle (they usually have Sapporo and Asahi) and house sake, hot or cold. Sake bombs definitely aren’t frowned upon, especially if you come in with a large group.

The Food

Delicious, delicious shabu. They’ll default to continually bringing you beef unless you request something else. The other options are pork, chicken and lamb, and of those I would really just recommend the lamb. Pork’s a little too light of a meat for shabu shabu, and I just can’t get behind the idea of cooking raw chicken yourself.

The vegetarian foods include a couple of varieties of mushrooms, cabbage, tofu and spinach, along with udon and glass noodles. If you’re not a fan of all of those things, they’ll bring you individual bowls of whatever you request. You can also get white rice on request, but that just seems like a waste of stomach space that could be otherwise filled with meat.

The Service

It’s a small restaurant (so make a reservation if you’re coming in at a popular time or with a big group), and there’s always wait staff buzzing around ready to get you another plate of food or bottle of beer. They’re constantly slicing more meat in the back, so when you ask for it, it’s usually out there in under a minute. Same for beer and sake. Add to that the fact that they won’t judge you at the end when you’ve had an entire night’s worth of booze and a couple days’ worth of food in 90 minutes, and you’ve got yourself some excellent service.

Overall

Mums Cafe is one of my favorite places in San Francisco, and I’ve been there for dates, my birthday (and despite about 30 rowdy folks in attendance, they gave us no problem for singing and chanting while we ate) and just about any other opportunity. I’ve got nothing but good things to say – come to Mums Cafe the next time you get the chance!

Rating: 🍾🍾🍾🍾🍾

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Non-brunch Reviews

Sushi Delight

sushi delight sf

Let’s start with the obvious here – Sushi Delight SF is not a brunch spot. This is not to say that I’m against the idea of sushi early in the day; after all, dim sum brunch at Chubby Noodle has been one of the best we’ve gone to. Unfortunately, Sushi Delight just doesn’t open until 5pm.

Nonetheless, I think it’s worthy of a review here because even if it doesn’t have brunch, it does have bottomless. Specifically, it’s all you can eat sushi (and assorted other Japanese food) and all you can drink beer and sake. If that’s not in the spirit of Brunch Club, I don’t know what is.

The Bottomless

All you can drink will run you $25, but if you’re coming to Sushi Delight, you might as well show up hungry and just do the all you can eat and drink for $29. There’s a two hour limit, but unless the place is packed they’re pretty liberal about that. The drinks include your standard Japanese beers (Sapporo, Asahi, Kirin) and house sake (only hot, but they’ll at least bring it to you room temperature if you ask). In case you were wondering what the etiquette around dropping your sake into your beer is here, “Sake Bomb” is explicitly listed under the drink section of the menu.

You can also get soda but, y’know, don’t.

The Food

I’ll be honest – I’m generally opposed to all you can eat sushi. Sushi is one of those foods where quality matters, and you’re not getting great quality at this price. The chefs take the usual route to cover up the low quality here; the vast majority of the rolls have fried fish and/or are doused in sauce. If you’re a sushi snob, be prepared.

That said, there’s a whole host of other Japanese food on the menu that’s actually pretty solid. You can start with some gyoza and tempura then move onto chicken or pork katsu for a good meal (which, let’s not forget, you’re paying $4 for).

The Service

Sushi Delight SF is a small restaurant, so there’s always someone nearby to get you another round of food and/or drink. The sake and beers both come out in bottles, so you’re not liable to run out even if you’re doing round after round of sake bombs.

The staff definitely know what kind of crowd they’re drawing, so they take no offense if you’re a little drunk and boisterous.

Overall

Sushi Delight is a fun spot, just not the best place for sushi. Still, it’s a rowdy environment with good service and certainly a fine way to kick off a Friday or Saturday night with a whole lot of drinks for a reasonable price.

One last important note – it’s right next door to The Mint (and in fact there’s a door that goes straight from Sushi Delight into The Mint), so once you’ve got your liquid courage in you, you don’t have to go far to let loose your finest rendition of Kiss From a Rose.

Rating: 🍾🍾🍾

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