Boston >Food & Dining > Shabu Zen Restaurant
16 Tyler St, Boston, MA | Directions 0211142.350845 -71.060598
Mon. - Wed. 11:30am - 11pm;Thu., Sun. 11:30am - 12pm;Fri. - Sat. 11:30am - 1am
Neighborhoods: Central, Downtown, Chinatown / Leather District, Chinatown
Been coming here for years – and I keep coming back. Delicious fresh food, you can customize the flavors. Lemon ice smoothie, yum. Plus you get a free mini facial from the steaming pots while you eat.
cooking self-love – Shabu is an absolutely fantastic way of making a creative experience out of a normal dining night. The flexibility of your options and the taste of your cuisine is completely derivative of what you make of it, from the meats/sea-meats/tofu non-meats, vegetables, and broths you choose to cook with. Shabu isn't for everybody, especially those who can't cook, aren't comfortable with asking questions or taking direction, or are used to going to a restaurant and expecting fully-cooked chef-fare. Shabu is more like a microcosm of a kitchen in a 4x6 space on a countertop than fine-dining, which makes for an incredibly unique dining experience.
I like Shabu Zen the most out of all of the area shabu places because the portions they give you for dinner combos are fresh, large, and diversified with items on the various vegetable plates. While they may not have as many interesting broths as Kaze, the service is much better than Kaze especially when it's busy.
i eats it – ever see a drunk imbecile light their cigarette backwards? who came up with this nonsense anyway? let's lure a bunch of white people into a room, serve them tons of sake, and give them little sticks to eat with. two teensy sticks.
typically this is not an issue, i could eat a mountain of greased mini-peas with chopsticks. it's all fun and games till someone drinks a bottle of sake.
my *favorite* china town pit-stop. go and have an assortment of bok choy, australian kobe beef, wild mushrooms, shrimp, tofu, cabbage, watercress, chicken, and broccoli, all bathed in the spicy kimchi broth.
when i crave shabu zen, nothing else does the trick. the food here is gorgeous.
tips: order the pork meatballs and the beef tongue, my favorites :) DON'T come on the weekend, it takes forever, and TRY TRY to sit at the bar so you don't have to wait on your probably slow (nevertheless endearing) server.
DYI food... swish! – OK. I'll admit. I'm not shabu-shabu novice and went with a group of folks who wanted something different to the usual Chinatown fare. This sister location of the Allston Shabu-zen was full on my visit and we had to wait for a table. Once seated, the menu is relatively straightforward, or so I thought. My co-diners wanted seafood and meat so thats what we ordered. The idea is that you need to know how to build flavor while not nuking your food. Though I cook regularly, I had trouble controlling what i wanted to drink hot (soup) to cooking in broth, to ordering raw meat and fish. Frankly, as I said outloud, If I wanted to work for my meal, thats not what I would be doing. I know, i know ...this takes getting used to. But only few things work well in this formula, assuming you like them all boiled, which I didnt.
You got to try this place – I went to this place in June for the first time and have been their at least six times since. its an amazing dinner and i love their smoothies! I just can't wait to experience it on a cold winter evening. I'm sure I'll be more than satisfied.
still like shabu better at home – wait is long and service is not attentive, especially on busy days. can't believe we pay $4 for a few pieces of beef ballllls (they're screening THIS word out?) when we could've gotten the whole package for less in a supermarket. meat slices are not of superior grade (lots of fat), so i really don't know why i'm paying some $19 per set (excluding extra side dishes and drinks) but can't eat to my satisfaction out here. always like my own hotpot chez moi, where i pay less per round and get exactly what i want.
at least food is fresh and they don't charge you extra for sauces and condiments; that i appreciate.
The best comfort food! – The menu is great. Thinly sliced meats and chunks of freash seafood along with a good selection of asian vegetables comes to your table and poached in a flavorful well seasoned broth to your desire. You are the cook after all. There's also the very popular fish paste, fried dumplings, and shasimi and quite a few vegeterian options. There's sake, beer, wine and really tasty smoothies made from fresh fruit. The service quality can vary depending on how busy the place is. Evenings on most nights are a bit of a rush service because there seem to be a line out the door all the time. The food is addictive and it's not expensive.
Best Sauce & Broth in Boston – I've tried Kaze but I keep on going back to Shabuzen (since it's opened) and it's probaly because of the soy sauce and broth. One reviewer says it's not up to par, but I LIKE that the soy sauce lacks the lemony flavor -who wants sour meat and veggies with every bite? The regular broth is very flavorful but the other flavors are good too! Most staff are friendly, but at times a few incompetent waitresses need us to ask for everything. I ask for more broth to mine, she'll fill it, walk away when my bf also needs it, so we'd have to call her back and ask for his to be refilled. I have NO clue what the other reviewer meant about needing bigger bowls because you want to cook each piece of meat as you eat anyway. Putting everything in at once would mean overcooked food! The wait is long during their peak hours so I usually just try to avoid those times. It's slower and cheaper during weekday lunch with their lunch specials. Besides, the long wait and people willing to wait shows how much people enjoy eating there. It's more difficult to get seating for parties bigger than 6 and they DO have the (all parties present) rule. However, if you want to get over that and you'll definitely have at least 4 people there then just request to sit at a table and TELL them your whole party is present. It makes complete sense to me that they won't seat until your party is there since the wait is llong. And most people KNOW how many people are really going to be there anyway so there shouldn't be a big problem party members not showing up. THE MAIN PROBLEM I have is this: there's been THREE times I've found a fly (once a fruit fly in the veg dish, once a BIG FAT fly in the veg dish, last time.. a BIG FAT FLY in the SOUP..). The waitress DIDNT even inform the hostess. THey said sorry, but i had to direct the waitress to give me new broth, utensils, sauce... Hostess gave an uninterested sorry. I'd be going every week if not for things like this.
Bad mannered receptionists & poorly trained waitresses – Went to this place twice. The first time, the waitress was slow in getting our order down & we made her repeat our orders to make sure it was right. Then towards finishing, when there wasn't much in my hotpot, she left it boiling at top temperature... I had to ask her to turn my stove off. She did, but also to my friend's too - my friend had to ask her to turn it back on. The second time, my friend called to make reservation for 6 people. They said they don't take reservations - it's first come first serve basis, so the 3 of us went first. Told the receptionist that more people will be coming soon. She just asked us to wait. Then when people who came in late got a table, my friend went to ask her why. She said she won't seat us until all the party arrives - it's "The House Rule". Then my friend asked her what happens if the rest of the party doesn't come, she said then she'll just give us 3 seats - too bad if they did come later - we will be treated as 2 different parties. My friend then said that she didn't explain that over the phone to her. The receptionist just shrugged & pointed to a piece of paper (which wasn't that visible & the fonts weren't that big either) & said that's the house rule...
We turned & left. KAZE is much nicer!
Exceptional food! – I have been coming to Shabu Zen for over a year now and have never had a bad experience. It is one of my favorite restaurants now and I find myself craving the food often! I always sit at the counter and enjoy a hotpot meal. The service is good - the waiter/waitresses seem to help each other out so no one feels unattended too. The food is fresh, the meat is lean, and you control the level of spiciness. The mild kimchee broth is my favorite - spicy but not overly so. I'm not sure what the previous comment was referring to with "a better dipping sauce" as you actually make your dipping sauce yourself (add your own spices)??? And in my experience if you want more of anything all you have to do is ask and they will make every effort to accomodate your request. My guy & I go here a lot and enjoy the sauteed baby clams as an appetizer - a yummy sauce with a white wine tanginess to it over sweet little clams. He even saves the sauce to put on his udon noodles! I have recommended or taken many people to this place and I have never heard a complaint yet. I even go with my son (he's 4) and he loves it! They are very accomodating to the little ones. Our waiter even rigged up my son's chopsticks so he could eat efficiently with them! I have even taken my parents here - they loved it (I was surprised my mom enjoyed it so much) and are already planning on going back.
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