Written By: Jackie Minken, Amanda Wertheimer, & Jaden Golden
Go ahead and play with your food! This is the motto of Tabu Shabu, a creative Japanese restaurant located at 333 East 17th Street. Since their start, they have been serving traditional Japanese hot pots with savory flavors, premium thin meats, homemade sauces, and a modern vibe.
Walking through their doors, you are suddenly flushed with a loud and hyped ambiance that works seamlessly with the overall atmosphere of the restaurant. If you are one of the lucky few that arrive early enough to get a seat, as Tabu Shabu has a large and loyal customer base, you will be sat at a table with a stovetop in front of you. The whole idea of the restaurant is cooking your own meal with the fresh and premium ingredients that they provide. First, you select a soup base of which you will be cooking the rest of your food in. Next, you look at their vegetable plate that comes with every meal, with fresh produce ranging from bok choy to tofu, and make note of anything that you do not want to eat. Along with the soup base, you select your preferred type of rice and meat. The service is very accommodating — quick but not overbearing. Once your base is beginning to bubble, it is essentially all up to you! You cook your meal at your leisure, putting any vegetables and meat in the boiling broth whenever you want. They cook for a couple minutes and once they are done, you take them out with your tongs and eat them however you want. All of the ingredients pair perfectly with your rice, and they also provide you with udon noodles that you can add to your pot at the very end and have your waiter put into a bowl to be enjoyed as a soup.
On our excursion, we selected a sukiyaki base that embodied salty and savory flavors with the Colorado lamb shoulder for our choice of meat. We also tried the spicy miso base, a miso-soup-like mixture with chicken that definitely has some kick. It is obvious that their meats and vegetables are very fresh and are a good balance to the primarily savory flavors. They also have additional ingredients, such as hot drops and garlic, that you can put into your soup base and sauces to liven up the meal.
Tabu Shabu founder and CEO, Jeff Chon, has quite recently opened another restaurant, Oak and Coal, in the same center as Tabu Shabu. This new eatery has a similar concept, but instead of soup bases, they serve traditional Japanese skewers that you grill over a charcoal flame.
Overall, we 100% recommend Tabu Shabu; it is a local must-try that has great service, mouthwatering food, and a creative concept!