Shabu Shabu

Quirky and theatrical Japanese in Al Wasl Road's new J-3 Mall

Time Out Says

Recently opened in the equally fresh and new J-3 Mall on Al Wasl Road is Japanese-inspired and interactive eatery, Shabu Shabu. Taking its name from a known Japanese hot pot dish, this is one of the restaurant’s many menu concepts, which is reflected in the decor.

Set within the mall’s food court, in this case reworked, with cosy chill-out corners, sofas and bookshelves, Shabu Shabu does stand adjacent to a kids’ play zone. While not busy when we visited, the constant buzz of sounds coming from the children’s area was noticeable and even jarring throughout dinner.

Even so, Shabu Shabu was a pleasant surprise. The small restaurant space had been crammed with all manner of interactive Japanese dining – from a teppanyaki corner, counters to store the fish and seafood for sushi, dining tables with in-laid cooking equipment for hot pots and (the most intriguing feature), shelf upon shelf of cooking equipment hanging above each table.

The staff were exceptionally friendly, with a chatty, charming tone and our waiter also had a good grasp of the menu concepts – he was not only able to make recommendations, but even suggest items that for some reason weren’t on the menu such as the shrimp tempura and gyoza. The drama of having our hibatchi salmon fired up behind us in view, the sukiyaki hot pot prepared before us at the table by the waiter and seeing chefs in the restaurant working on our sushi added greatly to the dining experience and anticipation. We were particularly pleased to note one waiter making the ramen for our sukiyaki fresh and in sight with a pasta maker.

But perhaps all this excitement undid the pleasure of eating the food, because nothing we tried really sang out as being exceptional. While the sukiyaki soup was certainly enjoyable, warming and comforting, the garlic-heavy broth seemed one dimensional, the thinly sliced beef was a little tough once it had been left in the stock for a while and the mixture of vegetables in the soup not particularly interesting.

The inari rolls (sushi rice stuffed fried tofu) were very good, filled also with slivers of shitake mushroom and cucumber for an original edge.

We also enjoyed the rainbow sushi rolls, the shrimp tempura and the citrus and garlic tastes of the grilled hibatchi salmon. I was underwhelmed by the fairly heavy gyoza dumplings.

Shabu Shabu is most definitely affordable and fun and the service and setting certainly support this. The proof of the pudding is in the eating though, and this isn’t the best Japanese in Dubai.

The bill (for two)
1x rainbow roll Dhs35
1x inari sushi Dhs28
1x shrimp tempura Dhs33
1x hibatchi salmon Dhs50
1x sukiyaki Dhs90
1x gyoza Dhs28
1x large water Dhs10
Total (excluding service) Dhs274

By Time Out Dubai staff  | 13 Aug 2013

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Payment OptionsCash, Credit Card
Dress CodeCasuals
10:00 AM to 11:00 PM
Sunday: 10:00 AM to 11:00 PMMonday: 10:00 AM to 11:00 PMTuesday: 10:00 AM to 11:00 PMWednesday: 10:00 AM to 11:00 PMThursday: 10:00 AM to 11:00 PMFriday: 10:00 AM to 11:00 PMSaturday: 10:00 AM to 11:00 PM
Show number +971 50 624 6117
Dubai, Umm Suqeim, Jumeirah Rd

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