Ahh, Shabu-Zen, just thinking about it brings me to a peaceful, food-coma place. This restaurant has to be one of my all time favorite places to go. I LOVE it here. I crave it, seriously! My mouth is salivating right now just thinking about it. I get way too excited when I know I’m going. I know, I am giving it quite the build up but I’m telling you once you try it, you’ll be hooked!

Shabu-Zen isn’t your ordinary restaurant. It is Asian “hot pot” cuisine. What is that exactly?

Well…just like any other restaurant they have appetizers and main courses to choose from. The difference is you cook what you order. Yes, you are the chef! You don’t like garlic don’t add it. You want your beef cooked medium rare, go for it. Kinda cool, huh? I think so.

So this is how it works. When you sit down you are given the following:

The tools:

Shabu-Zen Tools

  • Pot of homemade broth–variety to choose from including vegetarian
  • “BBQ” Sauce–couldn’t tell you want it is exactly but it has a mild smoky taste
  • Garlic
  • Soy Sauce
  • Chives
  • Hot peppers
  • Soup spoon and bowl
  • Small strainer–to get the food out of the broth
  • Chopsticks

Then choose from the menu. On this particular night I had the meat combo (thinly sliced pieces of chicken and beef) with a side of pork dumplings. Every meal comes with a plate of assorted vegetables (cabbage, bok choy, carrots, mushrooms, etc.) a choice of udon noodles, vermicelli, or steamed jasmine rice and even tofu.

Shabu-Zen Ingredients

Then you just throw it in the pot, let it cook to your liking, and enjoy! The meal also comes with red bean soup at the end. I usually opt out of that and go for the green tea mochi.

Shabu-Zen Green Tea Mochi

They have two locations, Allston and Chinatown. I like going into the city so I always go to the Chinatown location. From going there over the years, here are some important things that I have learned:

  • Go early. The place fills up fast at dinner. If you can get there before the rush I highly recommend it.
  • They have individual and group seating. If you want your own pot, you need to sit at the bar. The tables have one soup pot for everyone to share. The pot can be divided in two (maybe even three) so if you want to have different broths, you can.
  • If you can make it at lunch you will save some money. At lunchtime they have the same menu with the same portions as dinner but at only half the cost!
  • The mushroom cap from the vegetable plate is extremely HOT when it first comes out of the broth…so proceed with caution!


All in all, it’s a great place. I may be no phantom gourmet but I give Shabu-Zen two thumbs up! Now if you will excuse me, I’m getting a craving…

Shabu-Zen Website

Map of Locations, Hours, Phone Numbers