It seems like every new restaurant popping up lately has something to do with boiling water.
Shabu Shabu King recently opened near Puck’s Alley. Hot Pot Heaven recently earned an Ilima Award. And Hanaki Japanese Restaurant in Manoa ditched the typical sit-down format and teishoku menu for hot pots only.
Let’s face, hot pots are hot.
The question is, why?
How did a thousand-year-old dish — usually served during cold months in climates hardly similar to Hawaii — get so popular so fast?
The thing is, hot pots and shabu shabu have been around for awhile. But lately — and I mean, since Sweet Home Cafe opened a few years ago — the concept has become all the rage.
Don’t believe me?
Try to get into Sweet Home Cafe for dinner without waiting longer than an hour.
So what is it? The healthy style of cooking meats and veggies? Is it the variety of dipping sauces? Is it the ambiance, the long lines, the feeling that you’re part of the cool kids who swish their beef tongues and chicken testicles in lightly flavored broths?
I know why I’ve loved hot pots — shabu shabu, huō guō, lāu, whatever — for a long time.
It’s simple. It’s fast. And it’s good.
You grab whatever ingredients you want, be it thinly sliced beef or baby bak choi or pork blood. And you cook them in the broth of your choice. In less than a minute, you’re dipping fully cooked beef slices into a rich ponzu sauce and eating it with a bowl a hot white rice.
What could be better than that?
Well, one thing: dessert. And this shave ice concoction at Sweet Home Cafe — with fruit jellies, mochi balls and coffee-flavored flan — is worth the 90-minute wait, sometimes in the rain.
So where’s your favorite hot pot restaurant? And what do you make of the craze?
Sweet Home Cafe, 2334 S. King St. Hours: 4 to 11 p.m. daily. Phone: (808) 947-3707
Fuud pixs Friday!
Recently had lunch at Hanaki’s on a Sat. and it was dead, only had total of 5 people there including us. I don’t know how it is at dinner.
That’s sad… I actually like that place. We’ve been there a few times and always enjoyed it. Hope they survive!
the wife introduced me to shabu shabu house years ago, when we first started dating. after the first couple times, i’ve been sold on it. great portion size, and much cheaper than the oddly popular ichiriki (especially for lunch). although the ambiance is better at ichiriki, neither of us really talk when we’re cooking/eating shabu shabu so it doesn’t really matter.
shabu shabu house is one of our four regular dining spots. the other three are tae’s teppanyaki, old spaghetti factory (don’t judge me), and yama’s fish market.
We used to go to the Shabu Shabu House when it cost just $10 for a beef plate with veggies. Cheap lunch! I think the price went up, but it’s still reasonable. I’m a big fan!
We’ve done shabu shabu in our house since I was young, but it’s more fun to go out for variety and special sauces.
Sweet Home is great, but I refuse the long wait; just go during off-hours instead. Bangkok Shabu Shabu on Kapahulu is overpriced and skimpy on the food; not recommended at all.
I know, I know, the line is always long… It’s one of those things you just have to accept — and, like you, I don’t like to wait for food. Especially when I’m hungry! But once in awhile it’s worth it. 🙂
Probably the wrong person to answer this question LOL. My favorite hot pot restaurants are not in Hawaii, they are in Chongqing, PRC. Hot Pot or Huo guo or 火锅 originated there and is practiced to a fine art.
There are literally hundreds of hot pot restaurants to choose from and of them Long Hu Xi Yuan, Jie Fang Bei, and Nan Ping Restaurant are delicious. Sometimes the hot side is too hot for USA residents. Amazing how ferocious the pain can be until acclimated.
The hot pots there are looked at as three types; cattle gut, yuanyang, and qiaotou styles. Cattle gut is heavier and yes Tripe is a favorite thing to cook in the hot pot. In Chongqing if you get the shrimp it usually comes on a stick and is still alive. Did not see that one coming. It is good stuff!
BTW: You can buy the hot pot mix in the store and one of the restaurants mentio0ned, don’t remember which one sources it for the chain in the USA that carries it so it is pretty authentic.
I think we have Japanese and Taiwanese styles here… I’m not sure about the others… And I’m not sure about eating cattle gut. Pass. 🙂
With you there, can not handle tripe. Tried and did not like it. Try going to Guangzhou and having cobra… also a pass… rice wine mixed with snakes blood is not so tasty. Had no choice, I was the ‘guest of honor’… had them fooled 🙂
My favorite is definitely Sweet Home Cafe for their value, quantity and most importantly, the DESSERT! I’ve tried in vain to find it elsewhere but no one makes it quite the same. Perhaps it is the long wait and anticipation that makes it so darn good. My record wait at SHC – 2 hours 45 minutes IN THE RAIN!
I like hot pot because it is fun, especially the Chinese style where you can get a couple of different soups and a lot of different dipping ingredients (meats, seafood, veggies, noodles). Go with a big group or a family. Everyone can try different things and it tastes great when it is hot out of the pot.
Hot pot? I thought marijuana was already illegal ?????????