Shabu-shabu, ulit-ulit

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Saturday, April 26, 2014


RARE is the time when I return to one food place over and over again. I can remember those few food places over the decade and a half that I have been hopping in and out of restaurants to write a critique.

This one thus deserves a standing ovation because I’ve been there three times and would have been there five times already had not one been called off and another one had to be postponed because of other activities that got in the way. The intention to go five times in one week should tell you about the craving triggered.

It’s called shabu-shabu.

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My friends and I used to frequent this Taiwanese shabu-shabu in front of SM City in Ecoland, but it closed shop after a year or two and we haven’t seen a decent shabu-shabu place hence.

Someone did mention about a new place late last year, but that slipped my mind whenever I got friends with me to try a new place. That was until last week and there was but one friend, Imee.

Having no idea where to go, the shabu-shabu suggestion popped up.
We walked to the old Coffee Cat place in that set of buildings beside Davcon along F. Torres Street (in the same building as Let’s Crab Eat and Yoh-Froz, across Nonki).

My first inkling that this was going to be a good experience was when I saw the table full of condiments for the sauce. It’s make your own shabu-shabu sauce, and it’s the Taiwanese type, the one with sate sauce as base for your chili fingers, green onions, chopped onions, cilantro, and garlic.

There are three basic sets. The smallest is Set C that goes with vegetables, a few balls, a few shrimps, a slice of corn on the cob, and pork slices. We got that and just added the fishball with pork inside, the mushroom liquid meal (it’s ground mushroom with stuff you mix for bola-bola), and lobster balls.

It was more than enough for us, but we wanted more.

Thus, we went back the following night, this time with Peter, Deng, Sherwin, and Ces. With six of us, we ordered Set B and added lobster balls, scallop balls, and mushroom liquid meal. Set B has more balls, shrimps, one small lobster, beef slices, squid rings and tentacles, corn on the cob, and more vegetables.

This time, we all were perfectly full.

The plan to go one more time the following evening had to be called off as we were all busy. Except that… a friend from Manila was in town and wanted to meet up for lunch the following day!

“Where do you want to eat?” Juju asked. “Shabu-shabu!” I replied.

So, there I was again, for lunch, a third time in four days. Again, since there were only four of us: Juju, Pidot, Fr. Gene, and I, I got the Set C once more and added oyster mushrooms, kangkong, lobster balls, liquid meal, and scallop balls.

Don’t be taken aback if you are told that they charge P100 per person in addition to your orders to cover the unlimited soup and sauce. Set C, the cheapest go for P280-plus, you add one or two or three more types of balls,then you’re adding less than P500 more. Now if you’re a group of four, that is already enough. If you want to add more veggies, a serving of one type is between P50-60. Plus P400 for the per head charge, you’d end up with around P300-P350 per person. Not bad for a good night out. But like most Chinese/Taiwanese restaurants, the more the merrier, the cheaper.

Before I forget, this shabu-shabu restaurant is named Red House Taiwan Shabu-Shabu and is a branch of the ones in Cebu. Burp!

Am I planning to return? We were supposed to last night, but there were other functions to attend. Monday is next in line… maybe even tonight, who knows? What I’m sure of is that I still haven’t dragged in Carlos and Trisha and Nina, so that will be good for another date or two or three... or four…

Their numbers are: (082) 285-8843 landline, and 0943-525-5893 (mobile). They get filled up for dinner, but not for lunch. That should give you an idea when to attack and when to call.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on April 27, 2014.

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