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