The Forks blog

Warm up with shabu shabu

Written by Melissa McCart on


Shabu shabu is the onomatopoeic name for this Japanese version of fondue, similar to hot pots variations found all over Asia. Named for the swish-swish of dipping meat and vegetables in broth, it's a delightful dish for a few friends to enjoy on a winter's day. 

Last week, I had shabu shabu in Squirrel Hill at Sun Penang, which offers thin-sliced beef and pork variations. Along with meat, a plate arrives with fish balls, enoki and shitake mushrooms, dumplings, squid, bok choy, cabbage, tomatoes and glass noodles. 

Diners can go one of several ways here by creating a soup of infinite variations, seasoned with ponzu, sesame oil, or XO sauce that may be on the table. Or diners can dip meats in vegetables in sauces at the table.

One was made tableside by my server, who added garlic to the bottom of a soup bowl, followed by bean paste. He ladeled in a little broth, and garnished with chopped herbs. 

Made with beef, chicken or vegetable broth seasoned with coriander, ginger, and leeks, shabu shabu strikes me as a satiating dish to make at home on nights like this one. Or once the roads are clear, it could be an evening to try a variety of hot pots available in Asian restaurants along Forbes Avenue. 

Melissa McCart photo

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.

Food Video