May 18, 2017

Sukiyaki & Shabu-Shabu Hot Pots | Articles on Japanese Restaurants | Japan Restaurant Guide by Gurunavi

Sukiyaki & Shabu-Shabu Hot Pots | Articles on Japanese Restaurants | Japan Restaurant Guide by Gurunavi

Cuisine Summary

Sukiyaki and shabu-shabu are two different types of Japanese cuisine, both involving thin slices of beef that are boiled at your table. This cuisine is popular with Japanese and non-Japanese diners alike.Sukiyaki and shabu-shabu are both especially well-known in terms of beef-based Japanese cuisine. Although both cuisines are based around thinly-sliced beef, they are cooked with completely different methods, and both have their own specialty restaurants. Sukiyaki offers a rich flavor, seasoned with soy sauce and sugar, while shabu-shabu is fatty meat with a light flavor. This is something uniquely Japanese for you to enjoy, and a whole lot different than steak or stew.


Cows were a vital source of labor for ages in Japan, so beef was rarely eaten. Due to an increase in foreign diplomacy in the mid-19th century, dining establishments aimed at foreigners began serving beef. This led to the birth of sukiyaki. It is generally thought that hot pot beef cuisine flavored with miso to kill the strong smell was the predecessor to contemporary sukiyaki.Shabu-shabu wasn’t around until much later, in the mid-20th century. Chinese Sichuan hot pot cuisine is said to be where it came from.


Meat Used for Sukiyaki & Shabu-Shabu

Sukiyaki and shabu-shabu are cooked in a way to bring out the meat’s natural flavor. Meat containing thin layers of fat will still be tender and delicious when cooked, making it ideal for sukiyaki and shabu-shabu. Some higher quality beef comes from cows that are fed beer and frequently massaged to fatten them up just right. Such stock is treated as a high-end brand in Japan. High-class restaurants that specialize in sukiyaki or shabu-shabu are generally very expensive due to the high quality of meat used. But recently a wave of restaurants have sprouted up that offer good quality beef for a reasonable price, even though it’s not the most sought after brand. You can use Gourmet Navigator to find a restaurant that fits your budget.

How to Eat Hot Pot Cuisine

Sukiyaki and shabu-shabu are both considered a type of hot pot cuisine, which diners will eat from a large pot on the table while periodically cooking more ingredients. Several people share from the same hot pot, using large chopsticks to put food onto their own plates. Smaller chopsticks are then used to eat the freshly cooked food. Condiments may be also available, but are for personal use only, and are not to be put into the hot pot.

Typical Ingredients


A flat iron pot is used to cook sukiyaki.

Common ingredients other than beef include green onions, tofu, shirataki noodles, and shiitake mushrooms, with some regions using common onions instead of green onions. Tofu is made from processed soy beans and cut into bite-sized pieces for consumption.

Shirataki noodles are thin, low-calorie noodles made from konjak starch with a gummy texture. Soy sauce, sugar, and seaweed-based spices are added for flavor, but the type and amount of spices added to this dish vary by region and restaurant. Beef is almost always used for sukiyaki, but fish and udon are also used in some cases.

How to Eat Sukiyaki

Use a large pair of chopsticks to carry your helping from the hot pot to your own plate. Crack a raw egg in a small container, then place the food you took from the hot pot in with it. Rich soy sauce will combine with the egg for a mild flavor.If you don’t have enough meat, vegetables, or raw egg, you can always ask for more.


Shabu-shabu is cooked in a special pot that heats up quickly. Broth is made in the hotpot, and then raw meat is added to that. Take the meat out of the pot once it changes color.

Make sure to dip the meat in sauce before eating it. Sauces used for shabu-shabu will vary depending on the restaurant, but a citrusy, sweet and sour “ponzu sauce,” and rich sesame sauce are usually always available. The fat content makes for a light taste.

Ingredients other than beef, such as green onions, Chinese cabbage, and tofu are also put into the hot pot and eaten.

Beef is usually the main ingredient for shabu-shabu, but in some cases crab or pork can be used.

How to Eat Shabu-Shabu

Shabu-shabu is cooked in a special pot that heats up quickly. Use a large pair of chopsticks to put raw meat into the hot pot. Once the meat has turned a light pink, take it out of the hot pot, place it on your own dish, and use a smaller pair of chopsticks to eat it. Put shabu-shabu sauce in your dish beforehand for dipping the meat.Continue to eat meat until the natural juices have thoroughly soaked into the broth, then add vegetables and other ingredients to the hot pot. These can be boiled in the hot pot longer than meat, and can also be eaten with sauce. Finally, once the meat and vegetable juices have thoroughly soaked into the broth, some like to add rice or noodles.

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