Monday, August 17, 2009

swish swish

Shabu shabu is fun, isn't it? You dredge some meat and veggies in hot water, then you fish them out and eat them. Did you know shabu shabu means "swish swish"? Makes sense. Last week, I went to Kagaya to swish swish.

kagaya exterior
When we arrived, the dragon lady of Kagaya told us that we were too early (10 min) and we should come back later. Kagaya runs your prix fix meal to run 1.5 hours and they seat you accordingly. You should make reservations. We went to Pinkberry to get a sample of their new flavors to kill some time. When you know you have to kill some time, talking becomes chore-like.
pinkberry little tokyo
The prix fix menu includes 2 appetizers, your choice of shabu shabu, your choice of rice soup or udon, and your choice of dessert. It will run you about $50 each. The quality of the meat and seafood is great. I personally would not go for wagyu beef because it's being boiled so the fat will just boil off, but it's up to you big spender.
kagaya menu
First appetizer of shrimp and eggplant. Subtle, fresh and clean tasting.
shrimp and eggplant
Look how they pour the sake to the top.
Fresh water eel broth. So japanese. So nice.
fresh water eel broth
Chawanmushi. Light and elegant.
Seafood shabu shabu plate (minus the clams which were tossed in the hot seas).
seafood platter
The center of attention. The hot pot. There are no special chopsticks provided so you should ask for an extra set unless you want to swish swish with the ones that have been in your mysterious mouth.
hot pot
Beef. I think 30 seconds is plenty. Just until it's barely pink. That's the one and only cooking tip I'll ever give you.
My plate of clams and napa cabbage.
Glass noodles, beef, chrysanthemum and bachu (don't know the English word).
glass noodles, grn onion, crysanthemum
The sesame sauce is great, as is the ponzu.
At about 1 hour and 10 minutes after the start, they take away your hot pot and make either an udon or a rice soup for you. We opted for the rice soup. It was the best part of the meal with sour plums imparting a perfumed presence most pleasant and plummy. A very memorable end to the meal.
rice soup
The desserts were surprisingly masterful. The banana creme pie and ice cream was particularly deft and delicious.
ban crem pie ice cream and creme brul
These are the other patrons. Our nearest neighbors were a 4-top of doctors whose conversation was boring to the max. So was ours, I'm sure.
kagaya inside
Kagaya is nice but rather expensive for a swish swish joint. I'm sure you could find a better value shabu shabu experience, but it's nice for a special treat. The clams, the oysters and the crab legs were particularly fresh and flavorful. I don't think you'd get that at most shabu shabu places. Neither would you get the lovely appetizers and dessert. Also, I kind of liked the dragon lady. She runs a tight ship. She must write down your arrival time so she can bring the rice soup and dessert to you to boot you out on time for the next customers. Good woman.
Kagaya on Urbanspoon
Kagaya in Los Angeles


  1. you want to splish splash, takin' a bath round about a quarter to nine? we go and check it out sometime. it's good stuff harbs.

  2. I have hot-potted a number of times, but never swished swished Japanese style. A travesty, right? 50 bones is a little high, but the spread looks totally worth it!

  3. Not a shabu shabu fan at all. Don't kick me out of the eating club.

  4. i generally don't hot pot, swish swish, or poo poo outside. i will keep this place in mind if i feel like breaking one of my rules.

  5. gassy: that's inneresting. veeerrrry inneresting bc i've shabu'ed but never hotpotted. so i can't say it's a travesty. i agree 50 bones is like 25 too many.

    weezer: you'll always be part of the breakfast club. i kind of decided long ago that shabu2 is like an appetizer to a main course that never comes. i love it bc i feel like i'm cooking and being productive but in terms of flavor it's not crazy making.

    bags: i know there are no blue smurfs involved but yes, if you're feeling in the need to swish it good, please do keep kagaya in mind. the dragon lady awaits you. don't piss her off.

  6. Ignorant white girl question o the day - what exactly does shabu shabu mean?

    Feel free to mocketh me with raucous laughter.

  7. Diana: per Wikipedia aka the bible, shabu shabu literally means "swish swish" bc you're swishing your meats in the hot pot.

    Raucous laffter I will save for our eatathon which I'm totally looking forward to. I hope you're not going to do a 7 min mile pace.