Shabu Chic at Shabu House

Japanese shabu is similar to the Vietnamese noodle soup pho and the Chinese hot pot. As with many things Japanese, there is quite a ceremony involved in the preparation of shabu. At Shabu House (9889 Bellaire, 713-995-5428), there's a burner with a pot of boiling broth in front of you, and you're given an array of ingredients to place in it to prepare your soup. If you order the beef and seafood combination ($14.99), you get six slices of raw, well-marbled, thinly sliced, certified Angus beef; three large shrimp; a piece of white fish; some slices of octopus; a scallop; and some fake lobster (surimi). There's also a piece of a corncob, bok choy, taro root, two kinds of tofu, two different rice cakes, mushrooms, tomatoes, bean curd and glass noodles. It is an embarrassingly large spread — which quickly begins to disappear. It comes with a fabulous sesame sauce and an equally good sweet and sour vinegar for dipping.
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Paul Galvani