Tired of sushi and bento boxes?
Well, there’s a new Japanese trend coming to town and it’s arriving hot in a pot.
So what is shabu-shabu?
It’s a Japanese style of cooking in a hot pot in which thinly sliced, raw meat is cooked in a hot broth, according to the Shabuway website.
Translated directly, shabu-shabu means “to swish-swish,” which is the sound heard when cooking the meat in the broth, co-owner Eii Chi Mochizuki said.
The new restaurant is located at 34308 Alvarado Niles Rd., in the same plaza as Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot, a restaurant with a similar concept.
"We're similar, but we attend to different markets," Regional Manager Atsushi Aoki said.
"I think even if we are in the same shopping center, Mongolian Hot Pot's customers can come here when they don't want to eat there and our customers will go to eat there as well," Aoki said. He does not believe the two restaurants will pose threats to one another.
"We are a speciality restaurant," Mochizuki stated. He said that, unlike other Japanese restaurants, Shabuway only serves shabu-shabu. "You won't find tempura or sushi here," he added.
Aoki claims he is the only one who knows the ingredients of the sauces. “We have sesame or Ponzu flavored sauce,” Aoki said. “And only I know the ingredients to these sauces, no other employee of this company knows,” he added. “So if I die, the ingredients to the sauces die with me.”
Quality ingredients, Mochizuki stressed, are key. “We only choose the highest quality products,” Mochizuki said. “We are meticulous in the quality assurance process. All of our meat is 100 percent all natural, no preservatives or antibiotics,” he said.
Meat aging, said Aoki, is also an important part in assuring that the restaurant serves the best quality meat.
“After the meat is harvested, we age it for four weeks following the safe meat aging process and standards. This assures tenderness and better texture for our meats,” Aoki said.
The restaurant held a private opening celebration for select guests on Wednesday May, 2. Guests were treated to free shabu-shabu, sake and a Sapporo beer tasting.
Shabuway is a growing chain established in 2004, with locations in San Jose, Mountain View and San Mateo, Santa Clara and two restaurants in the Philippines. The chain also plans to expand to San Francisco.
Shabuway chose to open a location in Union City because many East Bay residents regularly travel to the San Mateo, Mountain View or San Jose locations. “A lot of our customers asked us to open up closer to them and now we’re finally here,” Mochizuki said. He said Shabuway is excited to be in the East Bay, and that he is looking forward to opening his doors to the public this weekend.
Entrees range from $12 up to about $20, depending on the meat patrons select.
Along with Shabuway, its sister restaurant, Menoh, is slated to open nearby on May 19. Menoh, which means "king of noodles" in Japanese, is owned by the same company that owns Shabuway. The opening of Menoh will be the first time the company has opened the two concept restaurants virtually side-by-side.
Click here for more information about Shabuway or here to learn more about Men-Oh.