“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)

Ambiance: ★★☆☆☆

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).

Service: ★★★★☆

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.

Food: ★★★★☆

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

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Health and technology freak. Food and lifestyle blogger with a large appetite for food and travel.

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34 Responses

  1. Erika

    I’m one of those who judges a restaurant by the cover. I wouldn’t have wanted to try this if this is the ambiance that I see >.<

    🙂

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Haha. You have a point in there anyway. Of course it all boils down to have a great experience. Restaurants nowadays should not care about the taste of their food or the service they provide with customers but also the ambiance as it’s a large contributing factor to make it a hit.

      Reply
  2. Swexie

    I haven’t been to a shabu-shabu restaurant mainly because I don’t really know how to cook. I’d scared nobody would eat what I’ve prepared. Lol!

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Cooking in shabu-shabu is easy and you don’t need to worry! 🙂 You just put everything you ordered in there and watch how they cook. If trouble arises in any case, ask help from the waiters/waitresses.

      Reply
  3. Swexie

    I haven’t been to a shabu-shabu restaurant mainly because I don’t really know how to cook. I’m scared nobody would eat what I’ve prepared. Lol

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Hot pot cooking is really quick to do. 😀 The concept of shabu shabu is actually putting in meats and vegetables in boiling flavored stock — just mix everything together and be surprised for the taste later!

      Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Oh wow then you must be missing on a chunk of your life. 😛 Next time drop by SM Hypermarket and buy the raw ingredients to add on to your hot pot. Even if it’s summer, a good hot pot can warm your soul and stomach. When you get perspired, you will feel cooler. 🙂

      Reply
  4. Sumi Go

    It’s been so long since I’ve last eaten in a shabu-shabu restaurant. Anyway, I think most restaurants in Malate don’t really care much about ambiance. While ambiance is one factor for me when choosing a restaurant, I think I’ll still give Lau Chan a try because of the food 😉

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Yeah, I think most Chinese restaurants there are owned by quite traditional Chinese owners who are not bothered by the design and layout of their space. 😀

      Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      It’s not only in Malate where you can find shabu-shabu cos there’s a lot now in the malls and out. A good suggestion is Healthy Shabu Shabu in MOA but I think prices there are more expensive.

      Reply
  5. joy

    I haven’t tried shabu shabu yet although I think that is quite familiar in Cebu also. The place doesn’t look very appealing but the food seemed delicious 🙂

    Reply
  6. Mai

    I’m not much of a shabu-shabu person. But I do appreciate the whole process of having to boil your own food, especially when you’ve gotten all hungry just looking at the hot pot. Anyway, the last time I ate something like this was when I got a massage at Wensha Spa. 🙂

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Oh yeah, Wensha spa offers facilities and free food such as shabu shabu to its guests. 🙂 Sounds nice. Next time I’d have to try it as well. Thanks for the idea!

      Reply
  7. Jonas Labagala

    I’ve tried 1 restaurant here in Davao where you can cook your own meals. I think I did a pretty good job that time. . 😀

    The ambiance reminds me of Chinese Restaurants here in Davao. 😀

    Reply
  8. Shie

    i really love the shabu shabu here, affordable and yummy ……. its been a long time since my last visit, got to have my shabuX2 fix here soon…

    Reply
  9. Tess

    I love to try it, I never been there to shabu shabu. I hope to be back to Philippines soon and will surely visit the place

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      You don’t have shabu shabu restaurants in the US mah? Or maybe your place is just not near to any one. Well, better take a sip of the hot pot soup with oriental food. 😀

      Reply
  10. RonLeyba

    A very busy and crowded restaurant. Yes the ambiance might be poor or not ideal for some, but for sure the food they offer are awesome or else, people won’t dine in at their place.

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      I guess they already have frequent customers who recommend their food to more of their friends. Viral marketing can do so much, so they won’t be off even if ambiance is not ideal.

      Reply
  11. maritel

    It’s been ages since I ate shabu shabu. There is a Korean place here that has hot pot…great ambiance but expensive 🙂

    Reply
  12. bad service

    had a horrible lunch with that place this morning. it was unexpected since we would always eat there and have a pleasant experience but this time it was so bad my friends didn’t even enjoy their meal. the only difference i guess was that because there were only 4 of us and we ordered 3 bowls of wanton noodles only. the two wanted to share since it was a big bowl. and we were in the wrong when we pulled out our packed lunch. we seriously didn’t know that it was not allowed since we’ve eaten at the place several times and we had packed lunches yet our attention was never called.
    it was bad, the servers weren’t attentive to our requests. we called them several times to ask for dipping sauce for the wantons but none came. they were more attentive to huge groups of people unfortunately. thankfully there was one man who accommodated us. i felt like i wanted to give him a huge tip just for taking notice of us. but then again when we asked for their usual free drinks we were ignored and passed by, so we left the place pissed. i don’t know why we were treated that way. was it because we violated their rules? well they could’ve told us nicely that foods outside are not allowed. or was it because we only ordered 3 wanton noodles? and the waitresses…well they looked annoyed while we tried to call their attention.
    its just sad coz i really liked their food, but that kind of discriminating service is just disappointing. 🙁

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Aww thanks for sharing your experience. I don’t think there are rules when it comes to ordering and there’s no minimum amount of food you order. Maybe the waiters and waitresses on that day were berated that’s why they were acting like that afterwards. I guess the only thing great here is the food; all others fail.

      Reply

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