Diners Flock to Fairfax for California Shabu Shabu
The West Coast Phenomenon Hits "DC"
Remember the fondue craze about ten years ago? Everyone would go to The Melting Pot for special occasions for an opportunity to cook their own food in a pot at the table? Well this "craze" is a way of life in Asian cultures -- especially in China and Japan, where hot-pot or shabu shabu is an extremely popular way of dining. The term "shabu shabu" derives directly from the sound the meat makes as it's being swished in the boiling broth as it's cooking, and it's certainly one of my favorite ways to dine out.
California Shabu Shabu recently opened in Fairfax, VA as the third of it's kind - the first two located in California. It's a casual atmosphere showcasing quality ingredients for an interactive dining experience. There are already regulars at this eatery, located in a shopping center, who recognize the dedication to fresh, high quality ingredients.
The hospitality is intimate and warm, as the owner, Duke Nguyen, greets each group with a vivacious smile and a taste of some of the specialty kobe beef. The counter-style dining creates a casual atmosphere surrounding vibrant paintings and encouraging camaraderie with fellow diners.
From the small plates, to the main event, each dish shines in it's own way at California Shabu Shabu, as the kitchen is clearly putting tender love and care into more than just beautiful vegetable offerings and expertly sliced raw selections for dipping in the broth pots.
Check out what I ate below.
The seaweed and jellyfish salads are to die for. Both are crispy and salty with addicting textures that keep you coming back for one more bite.
Next up was the squid karaage, which came out looking like the ultimate fried calamari. Cut in large, thick circles, the breaded and fried take on this sea creature was sinfully delicious.
The wings and gyoza are two classic dishes from East and West, and I gobbled both up completely before wondering if I'd have room for the shabu shabu!
Agedashi tofu was my final small bite, tender and silky under a crispy thin breading, with an unctuous warm broth. Memories of Japanese breakfasts danced in my head.
The shabu shabu comes with the diner's choice of proteins, a vegetable platter and your choice of broth. Your server will mix up dipping sauces for you to ensure quality control of the most delicious dips. The dips include a sesame peanut sauce and a ponzu sauce, which is delightfully light with soy and citrus.
Mix and match the vegetables with the different meats and sauces for flavor explosion combos!
Fresh seafood takes mere seconds to cook in the bubbling broth, and is a great way to start off the shabu shabu party.
The kobe beef is the star of the show in the protein category for me. The even marbling of the fat lends the perfect chew after a quick swish in the broth.
If you're searching for a quality meal that you can devour in a hurry, or a leisurely lunch that you can mingle with friends over, this spot has you covered. I hope to cross the bridge again soon to get back to this lovely Californian eatery.
3081 NUTLEY ST.
FAIRFAX, VA 22031
Monday - Friday
Saturday - Sunday