Monday, June 23, 2008

Cruise Day #11, Shabu-Shabu

Those of you playing the home game might have noticed that we’ve eaten in nearly every restaurant on board the ship at least once. As of this morning, we had three to go: Sushi, Teppanyaki, and Shabu-Shabu. We’re not really (or havn’t been) sushi eaters – though I think we’re planning to try it out. As for Teppanyaki – it’s actually the most expensive specialty restaurant ($25 per person), but we’ve had this sort of Japanese-steakhouse cook at the table before. So, instead we settled on trying something new and unusual tonight… Shabu-Shabu ($15/pp; 2-for-1 before 6:30)!

What’s Shabu-Shabu? We didn’t really know… it’s described a form of a Mongolian Hot Pot. We can either do a steak shabu-shabu meal or something known as the “noodle bar” (which features noodles and a variety of dumplings). Being a fan of Asian dumplings, we went for the noodle bar options. We began the meal with a seaweed salad, which was surprisingly delicious. We then had numerous plates, condiments, implements, and raw ingredients brought to our table. Finally, a very large pot of boiling, richly flavored broth was brought to our table. After it returned to the proper temperature (the table had some sort of specialized “burner”), it was time to cook. Being shabu-shabu neophytes, we weren’t sure what to do, but our first instinct was very wrong! We thought it should work like an Asian fondue – cooking and eating, item by item. Wrong! Indeed, had we gone down that path, we would have turned our Mongolian Hot Pot into a Mongolian Cluster… well, you get the point.

Thankfully, our wonderful waitress came to our rescue and offered to sort us out. It turns out that one essentially dumps the entire group of various items into the pot all at one time in an effort to create an Asian quasi-soup/stew. First, you add the hard vegetables, raw meat, and dumplings. Let it boil away. Next you add the four different kinds of noodles. Continue boiling. At the very end, you add the delicate vegetables. After another minute or so, you start serving yourself by ladling the soup and ingredients into your bowl. The larger items can then be dipped in one of the condiments. The broth, noodles, and vegetables are eaten as soup. The flavors are mild, delicate, and delicious. We ended our meal with fruit sashimi and green tea ice cream. It was entirely unique (to us) and a lot of fun. I’d recommend it.

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