4 Places to Get Your Hot Pot Fix in Honolulu
The hot-pot trend won’t quit; we take a look at four Honolulu spots for cooking up you own tasty dinner.
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LOCAL MEATS AND ORGANIC VEGGIES SET SHABU SHABU HOUSE ON KAPI‘OLANI APART FROM OTHER HOT-POT SPOTS.
PHOTO: STEVE CZERNIAK
Shabu Shabu House
You won’t find owner Kazuyo Makita at her restaurant, Shabu Shabu House, on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons.
She’s in yoga class.
Tall and lithe, like a ballet dancer, Makita lives the philosophy of healthy eating that she promotes here.
She took over management two years ago from her ex-husband, Toshimitsu Matsuzaki, who opened this shabu shabu-only restaurant in 2004, three years before Sweet Home Café. Makita has elevated its healthy offerings to include locally grown organic veggies such as curly kale and Swiss chard; fresh eggs from HoaMoa Farms; and a vegetarian detox set to help boost metabolism and energy levels.
“People like it because it’s healthy and it’s fast,” says Makita, who eats hot pot herself almost every day.
Earlier this year, Makita decided to add locally grown meats to the menu. Currently, the restaurant offers Maui Nui venison, healthy, lean meat from axis deer harvested on Maui; and grass-fed beef from Kulana Ranch on the Big Island. (Both the Maui venison and Big Island rib-eye sets are $24.95 each.) While she likes to support local farms and ranches—she shops for veggies at local farmers markets and runs to Down to Earth when the restaurant is low on ingredients—Makita is always looking for healthy options for her customers. (You can opt for brown rice with your meal.)
“I really want to shift to more healthy, organic and local (meats and vegetables),” she says. “It’s just better.”
The restaurant seats about 40 people, half of them at a U-shaped counter. Each table has three squeeze bottles with ponzu, sesame and ginger sauces accompanied by small containers of chopped green onions and shredded daikon and a bottle of Sriracha, all hot-pot standards. On the blackboard behind the counter are the daily organic specials, which on our visit included curly and dinosaur kale, pea sprouts, baby Swiss chard and dandelion greens.
We ordered both local-meat sets, which included won bok, choy sum, enoki mushrooms, tofu and udon noodles. The thinly sliced rib-eye beef was so fatty, it melted in our mouths. And the venison wasn’t as gamey as we had anticipated. The meat was firm and robust with flavor. It went well with the paitan broth ($4.95), a rich, milky soup base made from pork bones simmered for hours. My husband opted for the kim chee broth ($4.95), which was spicy enough that he didn’t reach for the bottle of Sriracha once. Our server recommended we mix the two—the broths were divided in the pot—but we finished too quickly with our plates of meats and vegetables to try it. A good sign, he signaled with a smile and a nod. Clearly, we had enjoyed our meal.
Lunch and dinner daily, validated parking, major credit cards, 1221 Kapi‘olani Blvd., 597-1655, shabushabuhousehi.com