Rumble box: Shabu-shabu vs HK hotpot

Rumble box: Shabu-shabu vs HK hotpot

In this week's Rumble Box, Kevin Kung and Chris Lau are engaged in an argument about Shabu-shabu vs HK hotpot.


Many Hong Kong restaurants claim what they offer is the Japanese dish shabu-shabu. This is just disgraceful.

I am not Japanese and it has been ages since I last visited Tokyo, but I still remember that shabu-shabu is meant to be a one-person dish.

Having shabu-shabu can be lots of fun. Kaminabe is a popular paper hotpot, which derives from shabu-shabu. It's interesting to use a sheet of paper as a pot and to cook your food in a soup.

I'm sorry, Chris, but you have to forgive me for my miso-phobia. I enjoy eating with a big group of people, but I just can't stand it when they all use their own pair of chopsticks to grab some cooked bits from the same pot. That's just poor hygiene.

Hotpot always makes me think of an unhealthy diet. Take a look at our nutrition column and I bet our dearest expert Wynnie has mentioned something about hotpots before. Hong Kong-style hotpots are packed with meat like beef. Shabu-shabu is always served with lots of vegetables together with beef. That is way healthier than our traditional hotpots here.

Eating lots of meat is bad for you. To make matters worse, in Hong Kong-style hotpots, some people like using a spicy soup as the base. The shabu-shabu soy sauce soup, which is made with seaweed, surely makes for a fresher and less calorific option.

Take a look at restaurant chain stores: they have started to convert their traditional hotpots into one-person pots - a clear imitation of shabu-shabu. And there are also more and more buffet-style shabu-shabu restaurants in Hong Kong.

There is a saying: "The customer is always right." The popular trend is clearly moving in favour of shabu-shabu and away from traditional hotpots. That's plain for all to see.

Kevin Kung

HK hotpot

Kevin, my man. Let me ask you: do you really like shabu-shabu or just all things Japanese in general?

Don't be ashamed. Many people get confused. But if you love shabu-shabu just because you love Japanese stuff, you may miss out on a satisfying meal of tummy-warming Hong Kong-style hotpot.

In shabu-shabu, the type of food you get is beef, beef and ... erm ... more beef. That's the traditional way of having it, anyway. If you like your shabu-shabu in an edgier and more modern way, your choice of meat may extend to pork, chicken and seafood. But have a think about it. What does shabu-shabu become if you add all those ingredients into the formula? Hong Kong-style hotpot - that's what!

Can't you see? Hong Kong-style hotpot is the evolution of outdated shabu-shabu, the pinnacle of the art of food in a pot of boiling water.

I am a bit of a meat lover, but the way they cut raw beef into thin slices in shabu-shabu puts me off. Everyone says: "Whoa, it's so good! It melts in my mouth." That's just sad. If it does melt in the mouth like this, it's almost as if you are gulping down wisps of thin air.

When you eat meat, it needs to be cut in a way that you can actually feel like you're eating meat. I'm not saying it has to be as chunky as a piece of porterhouse steak, but the finely sliced beef of shabu-shabu is an insult to both my taste buds and my intelligence. Come on, Kev, give it up!

Chris Lau

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