Shabusen (San Francisco)

Shabu-shabu is like a Jacuzzi for food. Thinly sliced meat poaches with tofu, mushrooms and vegetables amongst a flavoured broth; it’s an easy-going dining method, putting you at ease. Derived from the Chinese hot-pot style of cooking, it somehow seems less frenzied – perhaps it’s due to a smaller menu or the soup steaming on a low boil rather than a feverish bubbling.

Situated in Japan Town, Shabusen’s location puts you in the mood: while glancing outside a five story pagoda graces the skylight. Their lunch menu is affordable and filling, my friend and I sharing the regular beef ($14.99), small pork ($11.99) and a side of ramen ($3.50). With two people, they also offer a split pot so you can sample the dashi and spicy broth – the spicy being my favourite.

The meat is shaved to order, arriving a glorious hue of red and pink. They’re tissue paper thin and simply takes a few swishes in the soup to be edible. Both had enough marbling to be flavourful without being overly chewy.

Each person also receives a dinner plate filled with vegetables (napa cabbage, carrots, green onions), cubes of tofu, rehydrated shitake mushrooms, and bites of bean curd thread & udon. The portion was already substantial enough to be filling, but the extra ramen is the key to enjoying the broth after the essence of all the other ingredients melded into it.

The broth needed more salt as it was very plain on its own. Shabusen does provide a large bowl of ponzu (a lemony soy sauce) and goma (a silky sesame sauce) for dipping, with chilies and garlic paste at the table to add further flavour. Although great for seasoning the meats and vegetables, when it comes to the noodles I just want to enjoy it with leftover broth, so it’s lack of saltiness made for a disappointing last bite.

As a warning, like a Jacuzzi, it can get hot eating amongst the steaming pot. So, ask to switch tables if you’re seated in the sun – a mistake we didn’t realize until later in the meal. Additionally, ensure you give yourself enough time to enjoy the experience; it’s supposed to take time … so, just lie back and relax. 

Overall mark - 7.5 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: San Francisco, USA
 Address: 1725 Buchanan Street

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more -
Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!

Is That It? I Want More!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this:

Shabusen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato