I eat out all the time because I do not know how to cook -- I am best at appreciating quick and delicious meals. It is understandable then that shabu-shabu (hot pot) is reserved for those times when I am not so hungry that I can actually wait for food to be cooked in front of me. Shabu-shabu is the dining experience of choice too, if I’m with family and friends and we all want to share a healthy meal and spend a little bit more time together. For these occasions, there are many hot pot places around, but I pick two -- one a family favorite and another one a new found favorite.
Inside the restaurant
In Davao, Tong Yang Smokeless Grill & Shabu-shabu is located at Chimes which is the first high end department store in town but the real highlight is the row of restaurants lining up the ground floor. The exact street, Governor Sales, is one of the oldest streets in the city’s version of Chinatown and very near my father’s office so he gets to join us for lunch.
At an affordable price of only P650, you get the following set good for two people: in house appetizers, 2 bowls of chahan rice,2 servings of fresh buko juice, porkloin set and pork belly, baby back ribs and chicken yakitori to grill.
Fresh buko juice
Noodles and veggies
Baby back ribs
The servings at Tong Yang are generous and I mean in everything that was part of the set. We are two hearty eaters plus one who said she wasn’t hungry (but was eating almost as much) and yet we felt really full afterwards. Actually we could have been four on the table with the same order, and yet we’ll be fine. Maybe then we have to add one cup of chahan because apart from sheer ratio it was really that good.
The seaweed appetizer was so fresh that I almost finished off the bowl as soon as it was served. The buko juice was very refreshing, too -- to think these are just side stuff of the menu. The overflowing meat was just as yummy and perfectly cooked, not by us but by the restaurant staff. The noodle soup made me forget about the fried rice, and to think I normally prefer rice to noodles.
Fast-forward to just recently, and this time the setting is Makati. My friend Chawi wanted to try Ganso-Shabuway for our very belated birthday celebration dinner. Following the steps written in their menu, we first chose our broth and because we’re sharing, we picked the 'half and half.' The traditional seaweed broth was not so tasty, but the excellent dipping sauces more than made up for it. Having said that, we ended up soaking our meat mostly on the spicy miso broth, thankful it wasn't that spicy.
Half and half
For the main shabu-shabu order, we jointly decided that we must order a Meyer Natural Angus (Large at P670) each, since they have a one shabu-shabu order per person policy. It came with Veggie Plate A consisting of Nappa Cabbage, Carrot, Spinach, Enoki Mushroom and Tofu and of course, rice lovers that we are, a bowl of rice (P50) each .
Meyer Natural Angus
Veggie Plate A
Since it is our first time, we also ordered the Shimeji Ball (4 pieces at P80) upon the suggestion of the staff assisting us. I think it is also good to mention, while at it, how incredibly helpful the staff were. While waiting, I had the chance to ask a lot of questions and even while eating we asked more questions and we were always answered with a friendly tone. I recommend though not to order additional things if you already got a large plate, because when they say large, it is exactly that!
Different spices for the dipping sauces
Since I was with a shabu-shabu expert and we had time anyway, I actually found myself doing the soaking to cook the meat and experimenting with the sauce dips myself. To check if I’m doing things right, I just have to look across me. What worked for me is the double dip, I cook the meat at either broth and then I dip on both bowls of sauces with amazing results.
Dipping sauces with spices
Now after presenting and experiencing both sides, as in any battle, there has to be a winner. But here’s the thing -- I think it’s a draw! Maybe I can recommend that you visit Tong Yang if you’re on budget, and then check out Ganso-Shabuway if you want to splurge. But you know what? More than how much money you have in your pocket for a meal, I personally believe that each offers a unique shabu-shabu experience. So, the choice should be more about what you feel like eating, whatever that means for you!