Fresh nabe ideas bubbling up

January 20th, 2012 by Felicity Hughes

Konabe Shabu Shabu Dining Nabe Sennin, where customers get to create their own nabe

Cuisine featuring nabe, the traditional Japanese hot pot, has been at to the top of the dining trends in recent years. Curry nabe, tomato nabe, collagen nabe, pizza nabe . . . They’re all popular nabe trends that have bubbled up. Since we covered the topic in 2010, according to Nikkei Woman Online, nabe trends have stayed hot during the winter months, especially on the restaurant scene. Here are a couple of restaurants who are rewriting the rule book:

The use of Western ingredients like tomato sauce and cheese has been one of the most noticeable trends in nabe, so it comes as no surprize that Koshitsu Modern Dining in Tachikawa, Tokyo, has come up with a shabu shabu broth that contains red wine. The fish-based soup is designed to be used for cooking wagyu (Japanese beef) in. The red wine soup is served alongside a cheese fondue style dipping sauce, making this a distinctly Western-style dish.

The dish, which costs ¥1,800, is designed to be consumed with a glass of wine and the restaurant carries a decent selection of domestically produced wines. Adapting traditional Japanese dishes to make them a better match for wine has been in vogue for some time and we’ve seen restaurants such as Kappo Odajima craft their menus to create a culinary harmony between Japanese food and wine. It seems only natural then that nabe also get this treatment. Domestic wines, which tend to have more delicate flavours that blend well with Japanese cuisine, are also proving increasingly popular, so we think Koshitsu’s nabe dovetails well with both these trends.

Rather than try to come up with a totally new nabe variety, one restaurant is letting customers do it themselves. At Konabe Shabu Shabu Dining Nabe Sennin in Shibuya, Tokyo, diners begin by choosing from a variety of 15 basic nabe soups, then on to a basic dipping sauce such as sesame or ponzu to which they can mix in a range of 30 spices. In the final stage, they can select extra ingredients — veggies, meat or fish — for their nabe at a self-service counter. Popular nabe soups include: Cloudy Chicken Wing Collagen Nabe and Pork Kimchee Gochujang (spicy Korean sauce) Nabe. According to Nikkei Woman Online, this winter popular seasonings are Asian ginseng and ginger, both of which are purported to be good for boosting the immune system.

Part of the fun of nabe in a restaurant is  that you are the cook, preparing it on a portable stove at your table. Though staff are on hand to give advice if needed, we’re guessing that customers will only have themselves to blame if they cook up something really stomach-churning.

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