Enticing aromas of broth and seafood permeate the air of the room. Opulent warm lighting illuminates the inside of the generously-sized dining hall. In the background, dozens of customers bustle about — piling vegetables, ordering meats and savoring the full table of food in front of them. Located in the Culver Plaza, All That Shabu is open for business.
Walking in, we are greeted with a screen asking to add our names to the waitlist. Despite being twelfth on the waitlist, we are shown to our table within 20 minutes.
For a price of between 20 and 30 dollars, we have access to all the restaurant has to offer. On the way to our table, we see a long line of various food items: oils and spices for sauces, side dishes, raw vegetables and seafood for the hotpot itself. At our table, a waiter seats us and turns on an electric stove — a personal hot pot!
There are six options for broth, including their special “Original House” broth. Customers can order up to three raw meat platters from a menu of 11. We decide upon the broths for our soup bases: Original House and beef bone. For the initial order of three meats, we choose the Angus beef brisket, beef short plate and Angus flat iron steak before checking out the food bar. There, fried chicken, noodles, rice and other flavorful hot dishes are tucked in buffet-style trays.
For ingredients that go in the hotpot, there is seafood (such as baby octopus and fish cakes), vegetables, mushrooms and other unique items. Aside from creating a sauce using a distinctive combination of ingredients such as ponzu, sesame, cilantro, garlic and scallions, we take a few items here and there, but overwhelmed by the massive selection, we return to our seats.
As we start eating, we notice that both the broth and sauce perfectly complement the meats and vegetables we ordered. The Angus beef brisket, once a deep red color, darkens into a rich brown. The beef short plate, streaked with fat and marbling, melts in our mouths. Textures and flavors combine. The aroma, infused with the multiple items in the broth, fills our senses.
A waiter comes by to refill our broths. The napa cabbage and bok choy that we placed in our pots softens as it absorbs the rich flavors of the broth. To complement the hot pot, we inhale a mouthful of rice. This process repeats, with brief stops to refill our plates, until we are so full that we can barely stand. Determined, we grab an ice cream cone from the self-serve station, contrasting the warm and flavorful meal we just ate.
Overall, it would be a shame to miss out on such a unique and one-of-a-kind restaurant as All That Shabu. If the price does not bother you too much, the tantalizing experience is well worth the time and money.