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Shabu Shabu Reviews

Shabu Shabu Reviews

Kufuya

kufuya

If you’re going to Kufuya, you’re probably going because you live way out west – it’s in the Outer Richmond, a solid 20-30 minute Uber from downtown. It’s a medium-sized space, but it was packed when we got there at 8. There are a few big TVs around that were showing the Warriors and the World Series.

The Bottomless

$39 for all you can eat and drink for 90 minutes. The alcohol is your usual – house sake (cold) and Japanese beers (Sapporo, Kirin and Asahi). The food is primarily beef, but they’ll also bring out lamb if you ask. Both meats were nicely marbled, though the lamb didn’t really have a lot of lamb flavor going for it; it was very bland. Veggies are the usual – glass and udon noodles, spinach, tofu, cabbage,

The Food

To go with your meats, Kufuya lets you choose from their spicy miso or tonkatsu broths. Neither were especially exciting; the spicy miso wasn’t spicy at all when it came out, and the tonkatsu was very watery. You get radish, scallions, garlic and peppers on the side; if you’re liberal enough with them in the broth, you can get some solid flavor.

The one highlight here was their sauce. Rather than serve one for meat and one for veggies, they just had their one house sauce, but it was just a bit tangy and a little sweet, which proved a nice complement to everything.

The Service

We had a reservation for seven people, but only five showed up on time. They sat us, but then they totally ignored us until one of the members of our party stood up, walked over to someone and asked them to come serve us. She explained that if we started doing bottomless, the 90 minute clock would start for everyone, even those not in attendance. That’s totally fair, but not a reason to ignore the whole party.

After that, I felt like we were constantly being judged – the waiters would command us to move this or that so we could set things down (the table wasn’t huge for 8 people). We also had to repeatedly ask for things; if I asked for more beef and more sake, I’d just get the beef. Rarely did anything show up unless we asked for it. Just generally not great service at Kufuya.

Overall

If you’re in the Outer Richmond or thereabouts, this place is probably worth going to because it’s better than spending almost an hour round trip in an Uber to get to another shabu shabu place. That said, for anyone who doesn’t live that far out, it’s just not worth the trip.

Rating: 🍜🍜🍜

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Shabu Shabu 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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Shabu Shabu 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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Shabu Shabu 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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