Leisurely dining to drive away doubts

17 02 2011

Each individual shabu-shabu set comes with a plate of noodles, vegetables and meat balls.

I HAVE been the target of Brother and The Flash’s persistent suspicion that I would be dragging them to the moviehouse to watch “that” Tagalog Valentine’s movie.  I mean no disrespect towards local cinema.  But there still is a thing called choice.  Their suspicion is actually driven by data, knowing how much I did love Kimmy Dora.  That movie’s breakout star is on the third episode of “that” movie.

The Flash and Brother

So to dispel their doubts, I asked that our dinner on Tuesday night be at Healthy Shabu-Shabu, very near the Cinema at Town.  The leisurely pace with which one has to take when enjoying shabu-shabu would be enough to clarify my intentions – just food and time spent with best friends.  Though from time to time I would feel the compulsion to check the screening schedule for “127 Hours”.

The Flash and I had the Fish Fillet individual set each, with a side of Fresh Oysters and more Taiwan pechay (Taiwan baby bok choy sum) for me.  As I usually do, I had the glass noodles replaced with a bowl of steamed white rice.  Brother, maybe not as patient with cooking his food and then paying much for it (just kidding!), opted for his seeming favorite, the Japanese Steak with Rice, Glazed Shiitake Mushrooms and Caramelized Garlic Cloves, and then Ebi Tempura.  The latter was served over rice which Brother generously offered to me.  He just knows me so well.

My individual set!

 

I'd get everything except for the glass noodles which I'd ask to be replaced with steamed white rice.

 

A side of Taiwan pechay

 

Fresh fillets of fish... pink and juicy!

 

Fresh oysters, wet, plump and juicy!

 

I just dunk the oysters for a few seconds in the boiling broth.

 

A fresh Taiwan pechay is picked up from the pile, dunked a couple of seconds in the boling broth, dipped in the sauce, then put straight in my mouth with lots of steamed white rice!

 

Brother's Japanese Beef Steak, served with sides.

 

Really tender chunks of meat

 

Glazed Shiitake Mushrooms

 

Caramelized Cloves of Garlic

 

Brother's Ebi Tempura arrives at the table!

 

Those are huge!

In a previous post, I had this to say about the shabu-shabu experience:

“I guess the best thing about shabu-shabu is that it’s like having a blank canvass that you can color or flavor the way you want to.  At the center of the spread is the clear broth that you shall bring to a rolling boil (when it’s your first time at a shabu-shabu place, the wait staff will be glad to show you how to operate the burners).  Usually, the broth is made from chicken bones.  So free from any seasoning, you shall find the broth to be very clean-tasting.  In the way of condiments, you shall be given a small bowl of the soy-based sauce, the Korean sate sauce, fresh egg, minced fresh garlic, chopped scallions and sliced red labuyo chili.  The lover of hot and spicy food that I am, I’m surprised myself that when it comes to shabu-shabu, I veer away from even the slightest hint of chili!  All I use from this very generous selection is the soy-based sauce which I mix the Korean sate and chopped scallions into.  But the hardcore shabu-shabu fanatics put together everything – including the yolk of a fresh egg!

Once I bring the broth to a rolling boil, I throw in the corn, shiitake mushroom, carrot, fish cake, squid ball, and beef ball.  Everything else would be dunk (for seconds only!) just when I would munch on them.  I NEVER put everything in the pot.  No, that’s not me.  The oysters, I nestle on the slotted spoon – one at a time – and dunk in for about 10 seconds only.  The leafy vegetables, I literally just dip in the boiling broth.  Then, I dip the food in my sauce and eat them with the rice.

Having shabu-shabu is a leisurely dinner thing.  It allows you to take your time and savor each dish component.  But mostly, it allows you to reconnect with somebody else.  After all, sharing a good conversation and a good laugh are key to an overall satisfying dinner experience.”

*I came home to lots of takeaway from Mäsüki!  Good thing that a shabu-shabu dinner is taken at a leisurely pace.  I wasn’t feeling so full and actually had space for one large beef mami.  Yum yum!

A Mäsüki mami takeaway has noodles in a microwaveable container, a pack of the braised beef brisket, a pack of chopped scallions, and a bag of the broth.

 

The noodles would take the shape of the container, especially after being kept in the deep-freeze!

 

I finished this large bowl!

 

Copyright © 2011 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.





And before I used to wonder why it is called that way

3 07 2010

Every shabu-shabu dinner comes with a platter of these – tofu, fish cake, squid balls, beef balls, a crabstick, a piece of corn on the cob, a shiitake mushroom cap, a carrot florette, a wedge of tomato, thick egg noodles, glass noodles, napa cabbage, baby bok choy (a.k.a. Taiwan pechay), and a piece of taro root. I eat everything... except the taro root!

I’VE BEEN having Healthy Shabu-Shabu for dinner lately more often than I would be comfortable to admit.  I guess that is the case with addiction – you tell yourself that the last hit would be the last, or would at least last quite a while before you realize you need another one.  You know that the more you tell yourself this, the harder it is to resist the temptation.

It goes without saying that I’m wearing out my Healthy Shabu-Shabu discount card fast.

Last night’s dinner was shared with The Italian and Brother.  We savored what I can truly call a dinner at a leisurely pace – especially with about three hours we needed to burn before the last screening of The Twilight Saga: Eclipse in one of the three cinemas that was alloted to this international blockbuster.

(For previous posts on Healthy Shabu-Shabu, please go here, here, and here.)

A shabu-shabu meal starts with the broth. Healthy Shabu-Shabu's is easily for me, the cleanest tasting shabu-shabu broth.

 

Healthy Shabu-Shabu makes their own dipping sauce which diners can customize to their taste, by adding Korean sate sauce, chopped garlic, chopped bird's eye chillies, and chopped spring onions.

 

The only thing I add to my dipping sauce is the Korean sate sauce.

 

I ordered the fish fillet set. Soon enough, nine really fresh, plump, and juicy white fish fillet came to the table.

 

The only extra order I asked for was "Tagalog Pechay", which is a kin of the more internationally known baby bok choy (or baby bok choy som).

 

Healthy Shabu-Shabu lost some points in my book a couple of times in the (distant) past because they began serving low quality rice. Now, they're back to serving high quality "almost-Japanese" rice!

 

Shabu-shabu is not the time to hurry. When I eat, I cook the food only when I'm about to eat them. The only ones I leave in the broth for a long time are the shiitake mushroom, carrot, tomato, tofu, and corn. The leafy vegetables get only 10 seconds in the rolling rolling boil.

 

I finished my rice! Though after reviewing the photo on my camera, I realized that I inadvertently left behind five grains of rice. Exactly five, my auspicious number! Suffice it to say, I finished each of these grains... one by one using my chopsticks.

 

Copyright © 2010 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.





Hot pot wins the game

11 01 2010

Some of the fixings for a wonderful hot pot dinner at Healthy Shabu-Shabu at Town. I say "some" because I had the egg noodles and glass noodles replaced with steamed rice.

TOTALLY GOING against the personality profile I’ve always had, based on the profiling system we would use for a management training at my former company, I armed myself with a list of stores and items to (hopefully) buy as I launched into the opening salvo of the post-holiday S-A-L-E last Friday.  Personality profiles do change in time and are subject to external stimuli.  The recession happened.  Hence, the list.

But the only thing I realized was that shopping with a list was too limiting.  I saw a lot of things that on impulse, I would’ve bought.  But I’d got to stick to my list.  Quite ironically, feeling confined to my list felt liberating.  Isn’t it ironic?  Though a couple of hours later, I found myself grabbing nothing but air in my hands.  Already famished, I decided to have dinner instead.  I thought, shopping can wait.

Faced with a multitude of options at Town, I narrowed down my choices between Healthy Shabu-Shabu and Pepper Lunch.  But having had to stand in line at Pepper Lunch for a number of times already, I felt the scales tipped in favor of shabu-shabu.  For once, “hot pot” won “over hot plate.”  But I have nothing against long lines at restaurants.  A long line is always a good sign.  And I love love love Pepper Lunch.  That’s already a given.

Fresh, plump, delicate white fish fillet.

From the individual set menu, I asked for fish fillet – for a change.  They brought me a plate with about 10-12 of the meatiest white fish chunks.  And the best part?  While I trusted that the fish wasn’t caught from nearby waters – the mall is a tundra after all – the absence of that “fishy” smell vouched for the fillets’ undeniable freshness.  Fresh fish meat should smell like nothing at all – a very faint, subtle hint of seawater if ever.

A sumptuous spread. All I was waiting for was for the broth to come to a rolling boil.

 

I always ALWAYS finish all of these. Oops... except the taro root.

These tender, delicate white chunks of bliss came with the requisite fixings – a couple of squid balls, a couple of beef balls, a slice of fish cake, a couple of slices of tofu, a slice of carrot, a wedge of tomato, a shiitake mushroom cap, a portion of sweet corn on the cob, taro root, napa cabbage leaves, stalks of Taiwan pechay (a kin of bok choy’s), and a crabstick.  Noticeably absent from my platter were the bunches of thick egg noodles and thin glass noodles, and a fresh egg.  I asked for the noodles to be replaced with steamed rice, while I totally did away with the fresh egg.

Extra shiitake mushrooms and Taiwan pechay.

 

Fresh shucked oysters!

But I did ask for extra helpings of the shiitake mushrooms and the Taiwan pechay.  And in keeping with my dinner’s main component, I asked for 100 grams of the freshest shucked oysters.  They were about 12 really plump bivalves in all.  I would use the perforated ladle to plunge the oysters in the rolling boiling broth – for only 10 seonds (I count everytime!).  Yum!  For the leafy greens, a quick dunk was all it would take.

The hot pot is about to come to a boil!

 

A chunk of fish about to be dunked into the broth.

For my dipping sauce, I kept everything simple by just mixing their special soy-based sauce with the Korean sate sauce.  Towards the end of the meal, I ladled the by-then fully flavored, robust broth into a bowl filled with the chopped green onions.

It was so good I was almost tempted to slurp!

The Korean sate sauce and some chopped scallions.

 

The special soy-based dipping sauce.

 

Copyright © 2010 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MuchTime™©.  All rights reserved.





Healthy Shabu-Shabu – and a movie – with Brother

9 04 2009
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That's me – in my one and only Superman shirt! – enjoying my "free" Healthy Shabu-Shabu dinner!

 

IN JEST, I would always say, “How come a place that makes you cook your own dinner charges so much?!”  Hahaha!

 

Again, I would say that just in jest, especially since I am well-aware that shabu-shabu is a culinary practice steeped in tradition from the hinterlands of Japan and Korea, especially in the wintertime.  And while lately, a television commercial fosters the importance of family meal time, shabu-shabu has done and has been doing the same for hundreds of years.

 

But whenever I go have shabu-shabu, I would always prefer to have my own pot (whether with family or friends).  Which, conveniently, is how shabu-shabu places have set up their tables.  You get your own pot, you ask for your own set.

 

Shabu-shabu is nothing new to me.  I’ve loved it for quite a while.  I even had a phase in 2008, when I had to eat shabu-shabu for every single day, for five whole months!  Imagine that.  It came to a point when the wait staff already knew me and the time I would be coming in, that I was always assured a table would be waiting for me – not the other way around!  I was so addicted to shabu-shabu that even when my 87-year old grandmother was confined in the hospital, I (alone or with my brothers and a niece or a nephew) would sneak out to HEALTHY SHABU-SHABU at Alabang Town Center just so I could get my fix.

 

My addiction was so severe that Batman would understand when I would drag him to a shabu-shabu dinner either at the Alabang branch or at The Podium.  I guess there was even one time when even after we had eaten somewhere else (at The Podium), Batman still allowed me to indulge in a quick shabu-shabu fix.  Gosh!  As a consolation, I shared with him some of my food.  After all, I’m a good cook.  Hahaha!

 

But what I’m writing about now is one recent special shabu-shabu dinner – the belated celebration of Brother’s birthday.  And whenever I’m with Brother, not only do I get free rein in what to order, I don’t have to pay too.  Hahaha!

healthy-shabu-shabu-02-resized

The soy-based sauce. To its left is the Korean sate sauce. I didn't need the chili (the server was new)... just the chopped scallions!

 

I guess the best thing about shabu-shabu is that it’s like having a blank canvass that you can color or flavor the way you want to.  At the center of the spread is the clear broth that you shall bring to a rolling boil (when it’s your first time at a shabu-shabu place, the wait staff will be glad to show you how to operate the burners).  Usually, the broth is made from chicken bones.  So free from any seasoning, you shall find the broth to be very clean-tasting.  In the way of condiments, you shall be given a small bowl of the soy-based sauce, the Korean sate sauce, fresh egg, minced fresh garlic, chopped scallions and sliced red labuyo chili.  The lover of hot and spicy food that I am, I’m surprised myself that when it comes to shabu-shabu, I veer away from even the slightest hint of chili!  All I use from this very generous selection is the soy-based sauce which I mix the Korean sate and chopped scallions into.  But the hardcore shabu-shabu fanatics put together everything – including the yolk of a fresh egg!

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The standard shabu-shabu platter that comes with every order.

 

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Notice that the server (she was new) didn't take out the glass noodles. I'm not crazy about noodles in my shabu-shabu.

 

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The "fat" beef!

 

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A serving of fresh, drool-worthy oysters! My mouth is watering just staring at this...

 

For this dinner, I asked for the fat beef set (thin slices of “fatty” beef, the more marbling the better!).  The slices of beef are served separately from the requisite shabu-shabu platter that contains a squid ball, a beef ball, tofu, taro root, a shiitake mushroom cap, a carrot slice, a tomato wedge, a corn slice, baby bok choy or taiwan pechay, baguio pechay, a crabstick, fish cake, thick egg noodles, and glass noodles (sotanghon).  Usually, I would ask for the noodles to be replaced by cups of rice (one for each noodle type).  For extra things on the side, I would always ask for a serving each of tofu, crabsticks, and fresh oysters!

 

Once I bring the broth to a rolling boil, I throw in the corn, shiitake mushroom, carrot, fish cake, squid ball, and beef ball.  Everything else would be dunk (for seconds only!) just when I would munch on them.  I NEVER put everything in the pot.  No, that’s not me.  The oysters, I nestle on the slotted spoon – one at a time – and dunk in for about 10 seconds only.  The leafy vegetables, I literally just dip in the boiling broth.  Then, I dip the food in my sauce and eat them with the rice.

 

Having shabu-shabu is a leisurely dinner thing.  It allows you to take your time and savor each dish component.  But mostly, it allows you to reconnect with somebody else.  After all, sharing a good conversation and a good laugh are key to an overall satisfying dinner experience.

healthy-shabu-shabu-01-resized

That's the very generous Brother... Thanks for taking time out from DOTA and treating me to this sumptuous dinner! Hahaha!

 

But oh, there was one time I breezed through my shabu-shabu dinner in 15 minutes flat.  That was when Batman, Friendship and I had to make it to the screening of “27 Dresses.”  Good thing that on this dinner with Brother, we had a good lead time before Liam Neeson’s “Taken” started!