I’m lifting chopsticks towards my mouth when, suddenly, I see a flash of something yellow-colored flying my way. A tiny spot on my lower neck stings, briefly burning up. A few seconds later, my brain finally registers that I was attacked by piping-hot stuffing that made a fast break, squirting out of my companion’s dumpling-like “fishball” from across the table when she applied too much pressure.
We broke out in laughter; this was just one of many instances in a series of hot pot blunders. Is this cooked yet? How do you take off the shell of a crab? Is my oven at the right setting? However, despite how unskilled and inexperienced we were, we still managed to have a truly amazing dinner at Boston Spring Shabu-Shabu.
Our waitress summed the Spring Shabu-Shabu experience up perfectly: “If it tastes good and you’re having fun, you’re doing it right!” She answered all of our rookie questions with a smile and was extremely helpful, though she reminded us that there was no right answer. Even if we wanted to put pumpkin noodles, lotus root, pineapple sesame sauce, and top neck clams in Spicy Dashi broth, we absolutely could!
My friend and I really liked the cool and clean aesthetic of the restaurant; the layout of the buffet was slick and simple. A plentiful array of beautifully-cut fresh vegetables, mushrooms, noodles, and protein were laid out on ice. Current top hits played on the sound system in the background, contributing to the restaurant’s hip vibe.
Surveying the buffet was such a fun experience for me. Everywhere I looked were new potential ingredients to throw in my hot pot that I had never even heard of, like kabocha, bamboo shoots, Enoki mushroom, fuzzy squash, wood ear mushroom, cellophane noodles. I quickly piled up my tray, which ended up looking pretty Instagram-worthy.
After collecting all your ingredients (or, in my case, the first of many trays of ingredients), you cook them in a Japanese-style hot pot. This makes for an incredibly fun and interactive dining experience that is very engaging and likely to be a hit with your guest. You have the option of sliced meats, tofu, or assorted seafood items along with the various vegetables, fishcake, and noodles that you can cook at your table. Shabu-Shabu is actually derived from the “swish-swish” sound made when cooking the meat in the broth by quickly brushing it back and forth — a technique you will quickly pick up if it’s your first time.
The broth and ingredients had fresh flavors that complemented each other. In addition, most of the food was light and healthy, which helped me feel less guilty about the amazing green tea ice cream that I topped the dinner off with. Going to Spring Shabu-Shabu was a great time and learning experience. Whether you are a hot pot connoisseur or just someone who wants to finally take control of your meal and try something new, I definitely recommend making the trek over to Spring Shabu-Shabu.