“Shabu” is a slang term for the drug methamphetamine used in Japan, Hong Kong, Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia. Double the word and you get a different meaning altogether. Funny how definitions vary just by adding a few repeating syllables, sometimes. Here is one example.
Specifically, “shabu-shabu,” a term also introduced by the Japanese, is a dish which traces its roots back to the Chinese’ hot pots. Like sukiyaki in style, this dish is soup-based with all ingredients (meat and vegetables) put and boiled together to form a unique and savory taste.
It has been quite a while since we’ve last dined in a shabu-shabu restaurant. Last Sunday, my uncle treated us to one of the restaurants he mostly frequents when he’s in Manila: Lau Chan Kitchenette & Shabu Shabu Restaurant.
Review of Lau Chan Kitchenette & Shabu Shabu Restaurant (Malate, Manila)
At Lau Chan Kitchenette & Shabu-Shabu Restaurant, you can expect to see typical Chinese restaurant styling. What are those? Bright fluorescent lights, paintings and Chinese ornaments hang on the walls, simple chairs and white tables (no tablecloth) that are ready to catch the oils and sauces that inevitably fly as noodles are slurped and slippery slivers of meat and veggies splash into the boiling broth.
To be exact, the place isn’t visually appealing compared to the elegant digs in restaurants in malls in the city. This is not the perfect venue for a chatty group because sizzles of shabu shabu and conversations from everywhere in the room can be heard.
The poor ambiance may be a sign that Lau Chan serves to reinforce that diners are there for the FOOD, which gives it all the credit in that section (see below).
The wait staff was outgoing and very attentive to our needs. Orders came quickly maybe because they were served as raw. We didn’t have designated cooks at the table so everyone just joined forces to make a good meal.
If it’s your first time attempting to eat shabu shabu and are unfamiliar with the whole shabu-shabu experience, it would be best for the waiter or waitress to explain the process to you. In addition, if you do not know which soup base to choose, staff would have to recommend the safest one for your preference.
You can order several different ingredients and flavor of the broth for the soup in hot pot to create a hearty combination. If you’re fond of eating meat, then meatballs, slices of beef and pork insides can be your best bets.
For us seafood lovers and vegetarians, we had two plates of Chinese spinach (polonchay) (PHp 75), watercress (PHp 50) and vermicelli (sotanghon) and a platter of each of the following: lobster balls (PHp 140), Japanese sweet corn (PHp 40), golden enoki mushrooms (PHp 70) and tofu (PHp 35). Additionally, we ordered fresh wanton (PHp 100), sliced chicken meat (PHp 80) and fried rice. For the soup, choices were plain, sate, yuan suey, Chinese medicine and zhi chuan malat teng. What could those other soups taste like? We didn’t want to venture out of our comfort zone so we settled for the one most familiar aside from the plain soup, which was “sate” (PHp 60).
The vegetables were fresh and crisp, and everything was delicious especially when dipped to sauces that help to balance the taste. The sate was not too salty and not too spicy. We waited only for a few seconds to cook the food through the boiling water on electric stove. It was a pretty standard shabu shabu, but it was good! We left very full and satisfied. 🙂
Price for Value: ★★★★☆
There’s no pomp and only modest circumstances at this small, nondescript restaurant, but foodies on a budget can still get a culinary thrill at Lau Chan. Overall, ingredients for the shabu shabu were tasty and wallet-friendly. They also offer other Chinese dishes (not for shabu shabu) with price ranging from PHp 200 to PHp 400 on the average, for lunch and dinner.
Note: it’s cash only here, so be sure to bring your billfold.
Lau Chan Kitchenette & Shabu Shabu
1204 A. Mabini Street, Malate, Metro Manila, Philippines
For inquiries, contact +63 (02) 5224699 or +63 (02) 5218800