Nabezo operates just under twenty so-called shabu-shabu restaurants in and around Tokyo. Its Shinjuku branch, called Nabezo Shinjuku Meijidori, which happened to be less than ten minutes’ walk from our hotel, is ranking #1 out of 9,000 Shinjuku restaurants on Tripadvisor.
Shabu-shabu was only introduced to Japan in 1952 by a restaurant in Osaka that took the Chinese dish shuan yang rou from Beijing, where thin slices of mutton were used, to Japan and replaced the mutton, which was foreign to Japanese cuisine, with marbled beef, which is the red meat held in the highest regard by locals. Nowadays shabu-shabu is one of the most common hot pot dishes in the country. You can also order pork, even though no self-respecting Japanese gourmet would order it. While some would disagree, most seem to share our view that you should only eat the pork well-done.
This takes the fun out of this dish to some extent, because what is so special about it is, that when you just dunk the meat in the broth for a few seconds, you can eat it medium-rare to rare and it will literally melt on your tongue, releasing all its fine flavours.
To be frank, when we visited the restaurant for a late lunch on the day after our arrival in Tokyo, we were too tired to think things through. We went for the all-you-can-eat mixed beef and pork platter (JPY 4,800 per person, roughly GBP 35 or USD 45 at the time of writing; you have 100 minutes to finish your meal), which is incredibly good value for an expensive city like Tokyo and considering the quality of ingredients. The beef was by far the best meat, but the pork belly was very tasty too.
Service was super-friendly, knowledgeable, helpful, and spoke nearly perfect English, which is not normal for Japan. We enjoyed preparing the meal at our table and ended up eating way more than we had been planning to.
We will be back during our next visit to town. 5 out of 5 in our book.
For some more restaurant reviews, feel welcome to have a look at our posts about the local Robot Restaurant, Gruvelageret near the North Pole, Classico, Frankfurt, and the Cotswold House Hotel and Spa, Chipping Campden .
Other fun things we’ve blogged about include our trip to the New Forest & Poole, driving supercars around a race track, powerboating, rock-climbing, off-roading, and or our desert camp and camel ride in the Sahara.