Today on Caitlin’s Corner we visit a local Korean shabu shabu restaurant. What is shabu shabu? It’s hot pot! Shabu shabu is the Japanese term for thinly sliced meat and vegetables served in a boiling pot of broth at your table (and the word is an onomatopoeia, ‘shabu-shabu~’ like the bubbling pot!). Today’s restaurant is a Korean restaurant who’s specialty is this type of dish, along with daily handmade kalguksu noodles.
I consider myself a lover of hot pot, home-style and restaurant-style; from plain soup with fish paste scooped from a plastic container and bought from an old Chinese man at the corner shop, to spicy 麻辣燙 (malatang) overflowing with chili peppers and peppercorns that numb your tongue. But, I have never tried Korean style hot pot until now.
Joe and I adventured to Myungdong Noodle Shabu-Shabu, located in an unassuming plaza at Hurontario St and Dundas St W. When we first entered, we were greeted by some very courteous Korean aunties who quickly wiped the booth table for us to sit down. Being pigs, Joe and I ordered the premium shabu shabu set for 2 people, priced at about $30 a person. (The school had just announced the cancellation of classes due to coronavirus protection, and we wanted to enjoy our last school days together -dramatic-).
After placing a pot of broth on an individual conduction burner down onto the center of the table, an auntie then brought out a huge tray of meat, mountainous vegetables, seafood, and freshly-made-that-day noodles to our table. Of course there was also the house kimchi! Everyone in the restaurant stared, but we instead drooled. Joe was having a seafood only day, so the meat slices were all mine (-pig sounds-).
Firstly, the broth was amazing. I’m pretty sure it was an anchovy-kelp broth, the kind used in some Korean soups, and very umami. We threw the noodles in the pot along with some very interesting rice cakes. They were shaped like small beans and had a pumpkin or cheesy filling inside! An auntie was spying on us and told us we better cook some nappa cabbage first so that’s what we did next. Then it was on to meat. Nice and lean, and went well with their homemade peanut and miso-based (?) sauce. Together with the bouncy noodles, it really was perfection.
When we had cooked everything we thought we were finally done, but then the auntie came over and said ‘congee?’ and disappeared into the back. Joe and I looked panicked-ly at each other because we were so full already! She came back with a bowl of rice and some diced vegetables (carrots, green onions, celery) and cooked us congee right there in our left over broth in the pot. As the kids say – it was blessed.
Overall, definitely 10/10, maybe we can have lab dinners here now?? Hot pot is always a great communal way to eat, and the care and quality of the food at Myungdong Noodle Shabu-Shabu is definitely worth another visit! I may need to return soon to increase my sample size…