If you like to toss all your meat into a hot pot to have it chillax in it like it was you in a bikini or Speedo-clad, do not call it shabu shabu because shabu shabu is all about rare to medium-rare (this intro was the start of Calleigh and her plagiarizing).
Originally posted on Nov 14, 2018. Updated May 14th, 2023.
There has been an attempt to address this plagiarizer through their contact page, but it had been disabled (most likely due to all the complaints by other bloggers who she is stealing from), and no such luck at the time this Shabu Shabu vs. Hot Pot article was revised for the complaint filed with Google.
Also count yourself in as a shabu shabu over hot pot type, if you like natural flavors, rare to medium-rare meat, minimal sauces (two), and you love a variety of vegetables. If that is you, you are in the shabu shabu camp, welcome.
Why Does Plagiarizing Matter, Google Ranking, and Chat GPT-4
This blog only exists to get what the mainstream media does not get right about Japanese food and culture, and in the age of the internet, most writers regurgitate and plagiarize content. This incident is the case with Calleigh, and Google went ahead and ranked her in the #1 position in SERPs (Search Engine Results Page) because this article was an older one posted in 2018 (originally it was top ranked).
Chat GPT-4 cannot discern between truth and misinformation/disinformation, and Calleigh is not too far off from the limited capabilities of that software because she mindlessly copies and regurgitates content.Oishii-desu.com has skin in the game because the site is dedicated to only Japanese Food and Culture, unlike Calleigh doing it for the likes, attention. and money (if this is a front, just the money).
If you look at any content in this blog, resources are always cited and promoted because there is something ChatGPT-4 (the latest version at the time of this posting) currently cannot do, which is to differentiate between truth and misinformation (false and inaccurate information) and disinformation (deliberately to mislead).
Blogging is typically seen as an anonymous source of free content and to compound things, there are people like Calleigh of theForkBite.com who will blatantly plagiarize and steal content from fellow bloggers on Hot Pot vs Shabu Shabu, but Google will not penalize the thieving site.Blogging is a thankless endeavor because there is not a whole lot of money in it even if you are a top ranking site such as Oishii-desu.com.
I Love Chinese Hot Pot, Japanese Shabu Shabu, and Most Things Served in Pots
How you eat shabu shabu differentiates itself from other hot pot dishes, and the meat should only be going for a quick dip because it is not a 68-year-old dude in a Speedo wanting to unwind in a hot tub for a half-hour (that is Chinese hot pot and myself with a beer).Due to food safety, many countries only know well done and eating raw fish, chicken, or eggs are unheard of. Not so with the Japanese because sukiyaki without a raw egg is just sad and shabu shabu you do not want to overcook your meat, just swish swish for a few seconds.
All too many of my birthdays were spent at Chinese hot pot restaurants such as the one owned by Taco Bell (yea, seriously, Taco Bell). Yum! Brands, the parent company of Taco Bell acquired Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot aka the Little Sheep Group back in 2011, which is a chain of inner Mongolian hot pot restaurants.
This hot pot chain was my go-to spot in Orange County (Irvine), but the pandemic may have taken them out, and the San Francisco location (more locations probably closed). Also, note that Happy Lamb is by the founder of Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot.
So What is Japanese Shabu Shabu (しゃぶしゃぶ)
The focus of this content is to discern Japanese shabu shabu from hot pot because it is not uncommon for Chinese hot pot businesses to market their business as shabu shabu .
The confusion is due to Chinese hot pot businesses marketing their restaurant as Japanese shabu shabu, so most diners will struggle to differentiate the two styles. Hopefully, by the time you get to the bottom of this page, you will be able to discern between the two.I love both hot pot (I spent my birthday dinners several years in a row at hot pot restaurants) and shabu shabu for their differences.
If you are wondering if anybody else does this, Koreans do, but the Korean community and businesses have a good to great understanding of shabu shabu. So many of these business owners do not blatantly lean on Japanese culture to market a hot pot, but they do shabu shabu business.
First of all, a large or YUGE percentage of things in Japan has come from China, so if you see the similarities with hot pot, you are right about that. Although over the centuries, these dishes/foods have become uniquely Japanese.
Shabu shabu and hot pot are as distinctive as Chinese xiaolongbao is to Japanese gyoza. They are both distinctively different, and you got to appreciate the similarities and the differences, which make them both great in their own right.Most things from Japan came from China, but over several millennia, the Japanese have made Portuguese peixinhos da horta (tempura) and curry via the British Royal Navy distinctively Japanese.
Shabu Shabu vs. Hot Pot (Broken Down in to Three Sections)
The lazy media to opportunistic businesses seeking to capitalize on associating or marketing their hot pot as “Japanese shabu shabu” is quite common, which is why there is so much confusion. Although to help “fight the good fight” and lessen that confusion, I will be providing the differences broken down into three sections.
3 types of hot pot: 1. Shabu Shabu (Japanese), 2. Hot Pot (Chinese), 3. Americanized Shabu Shabu/Hot PotAll three are great in their own right, but they are all distinctly different, even though the marketing by inept business owners might blur the lines.
Shabu Shabu (Japanese)
This is one of the most popular Japanese hot pots.
There are not a whole lot of Japanese in the United States, so there really are not a whole lot of authentic Japanese shabu shabu restaurants. So if you are looking to experience Japanese culture (the food and service), your best bet is 1. New York and oddly 2. Los Angeles in second place.
There are two major tells for identifying authentic Japanse shabu shabu: 1. the broth is simply water and konbu (miso and pork stocks are not traditionally Japanese). 2. this is a big one for me and it is a quality thing and that is the meats are never rolled or frozen like at Korean and Chinese hot pot restaurants.“Fresh never frozen” is what the burger chain Wendy’s touts for a reason and it is the one thing I like about shabu shabu over the Chinese and Korean version of hot pot.
Citing “authentic” because sushi, shabu shabu, to ramen are often touted as fusion when the business owner knows they are doing nothing like the Japanese version.
|Broth (traditional):||Simply water and konbu and it is an ingredient that makes it iconically Japanese because konbu is heavily used in Japanese broths and stock (dashi) and to cure fish (konbu-jime).|
|Meats:||Thinly cut slices of meat (primarily pork and beef, especially Japanese beef aka Wagyu) although fish and chicken are also available. Also, the protein is cut thin so that it only takes a few seconds to “swish swish” the protein in the konbu dashi.|
|Additional ingredients:||Traditional types of vegetables and ingredients include shungiku, napa, enoki, shiitake, spinach, tofu, green onion, carrots (more decorative).|
|Sauces:||Aside from a salsa bar, Americans love sauces, but there only two types of dipping sauces: goma dare (sesame, like tahini but the Japanese version the sesame seeds are roasted) and ponzu (soy sauce with citrus).|
|For the recipe:||As always, Just One Cookbook comes through with a legit one because the site is by a Japanese national, although she’s now a Japanese American.|
Shabu Shabu is a Reflection of Japanese Culture
Shabu Shabu reflects Japanese food culture (less is more) because it focuses on the natural flavors of the ingredients so high-end ingredients make it all that much better, like Japanese beef (Wagyu).Aside from the ingredients, the service (omotenashi) in a Japanese restaurant is the total experience.
- The Japanese way: love the natural taste of the ingredients and there is no need for a ton of sauces or additional flavors to smother the taste of the ingredients. The konbu in shabu shabu and the meat itself contain glutamates. These glutamates are what brings out the flavors of the ingredients which would be called umami or “savory.”
- Omotenashi: the service is always a telltale sign of a Japanese restaurant because it is always professional, friendly, and quick. Although don’t expect it to be too personable because they got a job to do which doesn’t involve finding out your astrological sign (btw, I’m a Leo) or what you are doing later.
Hot Pot (Chinese)
The country that invented everything from catsup and chicken noodle soup are the originators behind hot pot. “It has a history of more than 1000 years, and China is regarded as the home of hotpot. It is generally assumed that the hotpot tradition came from Mongol warriors and horsemen” by Manya Koetse via Carnegie Mellon University.
Chinese hot pot has almost an unlimited amount of variation, flavors, ingredients, and sauces which is why I have spent several of my birthdays at hot pot restaurants. Also, it is not uncommon or frowned upon to have all your ingredients lounging out in the broth.A ton of sauces, check. Flavored broths of all types, check. Also, authorization to dump everything in and cook the hell out of everything, check.
|Broth:||Several types from mild to spicy (má là to huā jiāo), from Northern to Southern styles.|
|Meats:||Beef, fish fillet, lamb shoulder, pork, seafood such as shrimp balls, scallops, prawns, and more.|
|Ingredients:||Everything you can think of! Some of those ingredients are enoki mushrooms, pea sprouts, oyster mushrooms, potato, noodles of all types, tofu, tong ho, spinach, napa cabbage, bok choy, and a lot more.|
|Sauces:||This is when your results may vary because most hot pot restaurants require you to mix your own sauces, so for those of you who do not cook, this might be a challenge. It is probably the reason why P.F. Changs has that gimmicky table side-show where they mix sauces for you. I get it tho because some hot pot places have an endless amount of sauces for you to create the ultimate dipping sauce or a bukkake bucket of sauce.|
|For the recipe:||You know theForkBite.com probably stole their recipe for the clout, and they probably took it from theWoksoflife.com which is HOLY SCHNIZNITS in regards to how good the content is (impressive photography).|
Americanized Shabu Shabu/Hot Pot
Many businesses use Japanese food culture to market their business, so they will offer their interpretation of Japanese cuisine by mixing miso or pork stock into shabu shabu or “Japanesy” ingredients/style. The Americanized version is by non-Japanese owners and operators such as Korean or Chinese business owners (the equivalent would be like adding hot and sour soup as a broth to hot pot because it’s Chinese).
Is Panda Express or PF Changs Chinese? Most will say “yes,” but classify it as Chinese American food because both are American-based companies. Out of the two, one was started by Chinese Americans (PRG) and the other is Paul Fleming (PF), the Chiang/Chang was a consultant.If you are Chinese American, you may not want to be associated with either. Although the parent Panda Inn restaurant in Pasadena is a legit spot, I just cannot remember what it was like since it was for my aunts after funeral dinner.
|Broth:||Konbu, miso, spicy miso, tonkotsu, sukiyaki. Aside from konbu, the bulk of these flavors are not traditionally used as a dipping broth, especially sukiyaki which is a dish consisting of soy sauce, mirin, sake, sugar and benefits from the fat in the cooking liquid.|
|Similar to the meats used in Japanese shabu shabu although the only difference as mentioned above is that there is a tendency to serve the meats curled into rolls for presentation which means it is frozen and freezer burned.|
Other Types of Nabemono aka Nabe (Japanese Hot Pots)
If medium-rare to rare is not for you, the other Japanese nabemono just might be more to your liking because you will stew your foods all in one pot (like hot pot), with no need to swish swish.
One pot, two plus diners. Toss a bunch of ingredients into a pot or donabe (a ceramic Japanese pot), add a dashi (soup base), a variety of ingredients from proteins to vegetables, and you got nabe. The most notorious and well known nabe is sukiyaki.The best part of sukiyaki is dipping the meat and veggies into a raw egg before eating it.
Shabu shabu is just one out of about a dozen or more nabemono or Japanese hot pot dishes. Other than shabu shabu, the other most recognized by Americans would be sukiyaki (or to be confused with the very popular song which made the music billboards in the 50s).
|TYPES OF NABE||MY DESCRIPTION|
|Botan nabe (inoshishi)||I didn’t know about this one till my sushi chef from Kyoto told me about it and how much he misses it. It also reminds me of the anime Princess Mononoke because botan nabe consists of wild boar, and the leader of the Boar clan is a wild boar god (nago no kami). Aside from boar, miso, burdock root, napa, tofu, renkon, to a mix of mushrooms are utilized in this dish from shiitake, himeji, to maitake.|
|Chankonabe||The first thing I think of is “what sumo” dudes eat because it has everything a chubby dude needs to grow big and strong. The kitchen sink of protein, veggies, and a carb for good measure.|
|Motsunabe||I love motsunabe, and I never sought it out when I was younger, and I only tried it because all too many Asians and all my latino homies are no stranger to offal. This particular nabe is filled with pork intestines and a ton of cabbage and chives.|
|Nabeyaki udon||Thick white wheat noodles (udon) served with a number of ingredients from tempura shrimp, veggies, and fish cake all topped with an egg in a soy and fish based stock (why is everything better with a sunny side up egg…well, not ice cream).|
|Oden||This one reminds me of winter and my paternal grandparents because they would have a electric pot simmering on the table. I have no clue why I was not a fan of it at the time since I ate a ton of kamaboko as a kid. Also, a critical component is the Chinese mustard, the karashi.|
|Shabu shabu||Konbu dashi with thinly sliced meats swish swished around in the boiling pot with two dipping sauces.|
|Sukiyaki||There are two types of nabe, light broths with dipping sauces on the side and flavored broths. Sukiyaki is the latter, it is soy sauce based flavor, and I make this one quite often, so when I tell you that a chunk of beef fat is critical, along with a raw egg for dipping in, I hope you believe me.|
|Torinabe||I have always tried to reproduce the one I had in Tokyo, but I have not been able to do that. When it is done right, it seems greater than a simple pot of chicken, napa cabbage, tofu, mushrooms, and veggies in a chicken broth.|
Only Two Japanese Shabu Shabu Dipping Sauces
There are two traditional shabu shabu sauces typically always served with shabu shabu, and these are my favorite brands or are the most common:
Only two shabu shabu dipping sauces. One is a soy sauce with citrus (ponzu) and a thicker sauce consisting of roasted sesame seeds (gomae dare).Go-ma da-deh (gomae dare) and p’own-zoo (ponzu). If you are Calleigh, she’s so dumb, she changed my text from gomae dare (sesame sauce) to “…brand is the Goma tare sesame sauce.” You know you are an idiot when you can’t copy’n’paste correctly, OR you think you are correcting me.
Goma Dare (Sesame Sauce)
“Goma” roasted sesame sauce is made up of ground sesame (tahini) and several other ingredients that make for a perfect dipping sauce. My favorite brand is by a Japanese company called Ebara Foods (pictured below) although if you want to know all your options, I have a couple of brands to choose from.
“Momiji oroshi” is a an addition you can add it to ponzu for shabu shabu which is grated daikon with red chili peppers mixed in. Along with diced green onions to top it all off.It is not only a dipping sauce, but something you can use on top of steak and tofu.
Ponzu (Citrus Soy Sauce)
A soy sauce based sauce with a bit of citrus which you can produce on your own although I highly suggest you purchase it, especially if you are not familiar with Japanese ingredients. If you do purchase ponzu, be aware that there are several types from lemon, sudachi (the Japanese version of a lime), to yuzu (my favorite is umaji mura from a small village in Japan).
On theForkBite, Calleigh has “creamy garlic sesame sauce” as a dipping sauce, and that is far from anything that a Japanese person would traditionally use because of 1. garlic, 2. black vinegar, 3. peanuts, and 4 cilantro. This is a E/SE Asian concoction for hot pot.Trust me, Calleigh’s parents have to be disappointed in their hack of a daughter, I promise you.
How Not to Eff Up Eating Shabu Shabu
If somebody tries to tell you that there is no wrong way or right way to eat shabu shabu, proceed to eat your hamburger bun first, meat last, all while dipping the lettuce, tomato and pickles in either dipping sauce of ketchup or mustard using a knife and fork.
“If you see a red liquid on a plate of meat, that is not blood. It’s a protein from the muscle/meat which is called myoglobin.”You don’t have to worry about this if you are eating freezer burned meat
- The ideal way: “Shabu shabu” is an onomatopoeia which translates to “swish swish” because the thin cuts of beef are “swished” around in the konbu broth to lightly cook the meat. If you do not like rare to medium rare, you need to stick with beef stews made of cheap cuts.
- The sad way: to grab the complete plate of ingredients and dump it completely into the konbu broth till it cooks the meat till it’s grey in color, dry, and chewy pieces of meat.
In Japan, it’s not the size of your meat, but the quality of it which is why you will often find marbled cuts of wagyu that won’t require you to have teeth. You can almost get away with only using your gums because the meat is that tender and soft. It is also sad if you cook the hell out of wagyu.
Types of Shabu Shabu Pots
There are three types of specialized shabu shabu and hot pots that you can buy:
Do you need a specialized pot for shabu shabu? You do not, but there are ideal pots for shabu shabu, and traditionally it is a stainless steel one, although a clay pot (donabe) can be used.I use my donabe for everything, and I love it (I didn’t even buy it, I got it from an ex).
- A stainless steel pot depicted in many of the photos above (the popular brand is Yoshikawa) – $20-$80.
- A clay pot popular for nabeomo called a donabe and the popular brands are Ginpo Kikka and Iga-yaki (Japanese brands that are made in Japan) – $40-$280
- A Chinese style hot pot (divided, to allow for two different types of broth or however you would like to use it). $10+
Once, you decide on a pot, all you need is a table top propane burner because you will want to do this table side. BTW, an induction burner also works great with compatible pots such as my cast iron dutch oven.
Legit/Authentic Japanese Shabu Shabu Restaurants
Chinese and Americanized sushi is not the same as Japanese sushi and the same goes for shabu shabu, so here are a few spots where you can try authentic Japanese shabu shabu.
If you want to try Japanese shabu shabu, when you Google “shabu shabu near me,” the places with sushi and ramen are not going to be your authentic Japanese shabu shabu spots (those are typically Chinese/Americanized sushi/hot pot spots).Japanese owners tend to specialize in only one particular dish versus offering up the kitchen sink.
Legit/Authentic Japanese Shabu Shabu in Los Angeles
If you ever see a Japanese restaurant, it will be strictly a sushi, ramen, or shabu shabu restaurant. Non-Japanese restaurants offer up a million-and-one dishes on their menu which makes me think “jack of all trades, master of none.” So, if you do not have the ability to make it out to Japan, and you live in Southern California, you can try authentic shabu shabu at any of the below locations (Kagaya was my favorite spot, and I hope Tensho is carrying on the Kagaya legacy).
123 Astronaut Ellison S Onizuka St
Los Angeles, CA (Weller Court)
(Japanese shabu shabu)
|11:30 am–2:30 pm, 4–10pm||11:30 am–2:30 pm, 4–9 pm||11:30 am–2:30 pm, 4:30–9 pm|
Nabemono Shabu Shabu
People tend to assume that Little Tokyo is all Japanese-owned and operated restaurants, but they are not. One of the oldest restaurants in the complex is Shabu Shabu House, owned by Yoshinobu Maruyama.He has been in business for three decades.
Shabu Shabu House
I was in Little Tokyo quite a bit, and I was either at Daikokuya, Far Bar, Kagaya, Honda-ya, sometimes Izakaya Fu-ga, or just cruising through, running in to Seigo of 715sushi.com, or dropping by Max Karaoke to see my other homie, Junya.One time I went to Fu-ga for a private Lexus event, which put the spot on the map for me although the pandemic took out a lot of decent spots that many of you will unfortunately not get to experience.
Honorable mention (not strictly traditional):
Shin Sen Gumi Shabu Shabu
Legit/Authentic Japanese Shabu Shabu in the San Francisco Bay Area
Most places are not necessarily Japanese or Japanese owned/operated, but Nabe SF (consulted with a Japanese chef), Shabu House that oddly markets itself as “beef fondue,” but Japanese don’t do cheese or chocolate, and Jacky Huang at Kafu-ya has done a better job than most. So please support these businesses that are trying to adhere to Japanese food culture (on the fence with Happy Shabu Shabu with their frozen curled meat).
7001 Geary Blvd,
San Francisco, CA 94121
(Americanized shabu shabu)
|MON (CLOSED TUESDAY) SUNDAY|
|4:30pm – 9:30pm|
Legit/Authentic Japanese Shabu Shabu in Las Vegas
You would think that Vegas would have an authentic Japanese shabu shabu spot, but all ten places marketed as shabu shabu or hot pot in Las Vegas are strictly Chinese or Korean spots (Nabe). Although, unlike the rest of the UnitedStates, many of the businesses owners are gaaaangsta, and they try to adhere to Japanese-style shabu shabu, more than a guise to market hot pot.
Las Vegas is an example of Americanized shabu shabu that is the non-Japanese owned/operated interpretation. It can be like every food blogger doing their version of a “banh mi bowl” to very close to Japanese shabu shabu.Try to support these businesses because they are making an attempt to rep Japanese shabu shabu.
Chanko Shabu & Izakaya
(Americanized/Korean shabu shabu)
(Americanized/Korean shabu shabu)
(Americanized/Korean shabu shabu)
(Americanized/Korean shabu shabu/sushi)
Legit/Authentic Japanese Shabu Shabu in New York
When it comes to certain Japanese foods, if there is no large Japanese community, you get the Americanized version. Not so with New York and Los Angeles where you get some of the most legit and EPIC food in the United States.
Shabu Shabu Macoron
|6-DAYS A WEEK (CLOSED WEDNESDAY)|
|5:30–7 pm, 8–9:30pm|
|7-DAYS A WEEK|
Sharing is Caring
Especially with shiesty plagiarizers like Calleigh, theForkBiter.com looming the internet.