Review: Shabu shabu at Toki in Allston, MA

While I was in Boston this past weekend I took the opportunity to introduce one of my old favorites to my mom and brother.  Shabu shabu would perhaps best be described as Japanese soup fondu.  You order your meat and veg, choose a sauce (savory wafu, salty miso, or spicy gochujang), let it get to a rolling boil and then par boil, combine and eat.  You can also add noodles at the end to enjoy what’s left of your broth.

Allston is full of interesting restaurants.  There are actually two shabu shabu restaurants on Brighton street, Toki and Shabu Zen, both about three blocks up from Super 88.  We chose Toki because it was the only one open for lunch on a Sunday.  There were two groups eating when we walked in, and one more entered while we were eating.  They were all Asian, which made me wonder if perhaps the complexity of the eating experience and lack of explanation didn’t scare off the uninitiated.  The menu was daunting, long and full of unfamiliar Japanese words like kurobuta.  That, incidentally, is pork belly, which you definitely don’t want to have shabu shabu, unless you like dragging everything you eat through an inch-thick layer of molten pork fat.  We ordered the sirloin ($15) and vegetables ($4), and chose to have fifty-fifty bowls of miso and wafu (Mom doesn’t do spicy).

That comes with  sesame and soy sauce (top left).  The vegetables set includes (from left) noodles or rice, tofu, a flavorless chunk of rice cake that looks like a maple leaf, an assortment of mushrooms and baby corn, sliced scallion, a roll of boiled white cabbage, spinach, and carrots, and greens.

Here’s Miyoung waiting for that aforementioned rolling boil.

Another weakness of the restaurant is poor planning of table space.  There was barely enough room for everything.  Now I have been to plenty of resturants in Korea where you’re lucky the plates don’t spill over the edge of the table, but something about the number of enormous plates that came out all at once really bothered me.

On the left, wafu; on the right, miso.

Even Mom liked it, doing a great job with her chopsticks and managing to finish at the same time as everyone else.

Rich, seeing dead people in the steam.

As usual, the shabu shabu is very filling and satisfying, although Mom complained about still feeling hungry at the end.  I would say that if that’s a concern for you, definitely order some noodles to put in the broth at the end to soup it up a bit.


~ by Joshing on December 12, 2007.

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