Update: This post was originally published on April 23, 2009 soon after I returned from Japan. I have since updated it with more pictures and more text in conjunction with A Culinary Tour of Asian Hot Pots as Part III of this mini-series. The other part of this series can be found here: Part I: A Culinary Tour of Asian Hot Pots, and Part II: Preparing Filet Mignon For Hot Pot.
Seryna is known to have one of the best Kobe beef shabu shabu in Japan.
I typically don't even eat much meat when I eat hot pot / shabu shabu because I just don't enjoy meat that much. I find it sort of tough, dry, lacking in flavor. I tend to focus on the vegetables because they have so much inherent flavor. Honestly, on a typical hot pot night, I'll have at most one or two pieces of meat the entire night.
I realize now that I avoided the meat not because I did not like meat, but because I had never had really good meat. REALLY good meat. Meat that's decadent, buttery soft, and utterly deliciously full of flavor. Meat that has absolutely no hint of toughness when you chew it. Meat that almost melts in your mouth.
Hello Kobe beef. Shabu-shabu meat at its finest. Really, it does not get better than this.
The meat was SUPER soft - it almost seemed to melt in your mouth. The flavor of the fat was rich, but it didn't feel at all fatty in a bad way. As I've mentioned before in a previous post, Kobe beef has a higher percentage of monounsaturated fat (good fat). I wonder if that's why it doesn't taste greasy, but instead just rich, buttery, and absolute heavenly.
For $150 you get 150g of meat and a small portion of vegetables on the side. I have to say, after being used to US portion sizes, I was a bit disappointed with the vegetable sides. Literally, it was like 1 mushroom, 1 tofu piece, 2 leaves of lettuce, etc. Clearly, the focus was on the meat.
But man, it's really good. Although very expensive, I think it's worth trying once, because it's so different from any other type of meat.
At Seryna, they give you three types of sauces. A sesame paste, a ponzu sauce, and a spicy one. I liked all three. The spicy one was the most flavorful, but the ponzu sauce was crisp and light, and served as a nice light interlude between bites of meat with the heavier sauces.
The Japanese are meticulous about cleanliness. Every diner receives a bib/apron of sorts to protect your clothing from any potential splashes or spills.
The waiter also periodically comes by and scoops out any stray bits that are floating in the broth. It's very important that the broth remains pure and clean.
At the end of the meal (which doesn't take that long since there's actually not THAT much food), you get a small bowl full of noodles. The waiter fills it with the delicious clear, kombu-based broth from your hot pot. The soup is clear, light, and cleansing after a rich meal. A perfect finish to a perfect meal.
I highly recommend coming to Seryna and ordering the Kobe beef shabu. Compared to the meat you typically eat at a shabu shabu restaurant, it's like nothing you've ever had before. This and Kyubei were probably the two best meals I had in Japan.
On a side note, thinly sliced filet mignon is actually really good in shabu shabu as well, and much cheaper!
Maybe in a future post I'll talk about Click here to find out how I purchase filet mignon meat from Costco, partially freeze it, and then thinly slice it myself for shabu shabu (hot pot) meals we have at home!
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