Restaurant: Mizu 212
Location: 2000 Sawtelle Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025 (310)478-8979
Date: December 17, 2010
Cuisine: Japanese Shabu Shabu
Rating: Best Shabu Shabu in town
Shabu Shabu is a form of Japanese cuisine where various meats and vegetables are cooked table side in boiling broth. Literally the name means “swish swish” for the sound the food makes as it is swished in the boiling water. In Japan one might get the impression that Shabu Shabu, like all Japanese culinary specialties, has been an inherited tradition since neolithic times, but in fact it entered the vocabulary only during World War II. Japanese soldiers in China encountered the ubiquitous Mongolian Hot Pot. But the Japanese are nothing if not masters at the art of culinary assimilation. They have a special ability to take the dishes of others and make them uniquely their own.
Mizu 212 is one of many excellent Japanese restaurants on Sawtelle. They do only Shabu Shabu and it’s all organic.
Each seat has a little hot plate.
On which is installed the pot of broth.
Hot green tea.
Part of the allure of shabu shabu are the sauces. The sesame sauce on the left and the ponzu on the right. The sesame sauce — like the cuisine itself — is borrowed from China. Loosely the sesame is for meat, and the ponzu is for veggies. But the unmodified sauces are just the beginning.
These are the basic condiments. From left to right: Chili oil, scallions, daikon radish, chili powder, and in front garlic!
The sesame gets a huge dose of garlic, as does the ponzu. But the ponzu also gets scallions and radish – and garlic.
There are also the advanced condiments, available on request. Both really help the ponzu shine. The yuzu on the left (juice from a Japanese lime) adds zest, and the chili is HOT! In a perfect kind of green hot. I find that red chili hot doesn’t go so well with shabu shabu — but green does.
And the actual food arrives. The vegetable plate. All sorts of organic goodness, plus some tofu and udon noodles.
The beef. This is a large plate of vintage aged beef. Mizu actually has about half a dozen meat options, including two different types of Kobe beef, plus chicken, lamb, and numerous types of fish. But beef is traditional.
The pot after a few rounds of veggies are added. Part of the key here is to cook each thing for just the appropriate length of time..
The beef cooks very quickly.
Swish, swish and voila!
Finished. Slather in the garlicky mizu and enjoy.
After all the cooking the meat fats are about all that’s left. Not so appealing.
The remains. There is a endless rice too. After you remove meat or vegetables from the broth, and dip it in one or the other sauces you can rest it to cool on the rice. That way, by the end the rice has become nicely saturated with sauce and fat.
As loyal (and repeat customers) we were treated to a round of homemade blood orange sorbet at the end. Yum!
Rows of other customers enjoying their private feasts. Not only is this meal good, and reasonably healthy, but it entertains too.