Believe it or not, and I’ve been enjoying Japanese cuisine for years, I did not have my first Shabu Shabu experience until I went to Japan back in 2008. What exactly is Shabu Shabu? Shabu Shabu loosely translated means, “swish swish”. Thin slices of meat and chicken, as well as seafood, are individually “swished” in a boiling hot pot of either water or dashi (a broth made with kelp) to cook it to taste before dipping it in one of two savory sauces–the Ponzu (citrus soy) sauce or the Goma (Sesame) sauce–and enjoy it with a bowl of steamed white rice. Boiling the meats render out the fat which makes for a healthier dietary option and depending on how long you swish will determine whether your meat is rare, medium or well done. Vegetables, udon, noodles and tofu is usually included which doesn’t require any swishing. Intrigued? Read on…
My family and I decided to try Yoji Japanese Fondue & Sake Bar located in Downtown L.A. I happened upon it by accident. I was on Open Table’s website and did a search in and around my neighborhood to see what restaurants had an “open table” for four at 9:00 p.m. on a Saturday night. As I was perusing the list and nearing the tail end of it, Yojie caught my eye. It stated that the restaurant was in Calabasas and when I clicked on the link to see where it was located, it displayed a location on Olympic Boulevard. I’ve been living in the San Fernando Valley for almost 20 years now and I know for a fact that Olympic Boulevard does not extend out to Calabasas! Well, I found out through Google that the restaurant has only two locations–Cerritos in Orange County and in Downtown L.A. After reading the reviews (all very good), I decided that I wanted to try it. So I made the reservation through Open Table which took less than two minutes (I love this site).
Trying to access the menu was a different matter. I navigated to Yojie’s website to check out their menu in detail but alas, I was unable to view it. The site kicked me out everytime I tried to view the Los Angeles menu and after a few attempts, I gave up! The .pdf menu would download and after a few seconds, the menu cover would appear. I tried to scroll down to view the menu and the minute I did that, I was kicked out of their website. Frustrating! Anyways, I didn’t let that deter me. There weren’t that many restaurants that interested me that had available reservations for that hour of the night and I already had my sights set on Shabu Shabu so I was going to trust the large number of favorable reviews on Yelp! and forge ahead.
We made the trek to Downtown in less than 30 minutes. There is ample parking across the street from Yojie’s in a public lot. The restaurant itself was on the bottom level of the Renaissance Apartment Towers on the corner of Olympic and Grand. I was immediately seduced by the modern style of the restaurant exterior and when I walked in, I was awed by the equally modern interior design of the restaurant–dark woods, purple and green hues, bamboo, stainless steel and glass, bold and colorful art work. Hip hop was the back drop music and the wait staff were dressed in black. Very L.A.
We were led to our table for four which had two stainless steel Shabu Shabu pots at the ready. What I really liked about these pots was that they were divided so you can cook your meat on one side and veggies on the other. Our server brought over a large pitcher of hot water and filled up both pots to get them boiling.
We then we got down to the business of picking our menu items. We fully intended to share so we all decided to select four different items. We ordered the 12 oz. Angus beef (Sumo) and the Kobe beef (don’t remember the weight or the clever Japanese name they assigned it since I can’t access their menu online). We also ordered the seafood combo which included talapia, scallops, shrimp and salmon and their bountiful vegetable platter which included tofu and two types of noodles.
Each order came with two dipping sauces–the Ponzu sauce, a citrus-y soy based sauce and Goma (sesame). You can dress up your sauces with either fresh minced garlic, daikon radish and/or a chiffonade of green onions. Both of my sauces were fully dressed!
Now here’s the fun part. You can pick up your meat with the steel tongs that are provided and swish swish you meat until it’s cooked to your preferred doneness, drop it in the sauce of your choice and then pick it up with your chopsticks and enjoy it with your steamed rice. We cooked the veggies separate from the meat since I didn’t want to cook my veggies in water infused with the rendered fat from the meat; of course, the longer you cook your veggies, the more tender they become. I loved both dipping sauces and coated my meat, seafood and veggies in each of them as well as my noodles! Pure enjoyment!
Between the four of us we finished off the meat, seafood and a majority of the vegetables. We were pretty full at the end of the meal and I really wanted to try one of their unique dessert fondues. Rather than overdo it and also satisfy my craving for something sweet, I opted for a dish of Chocolate Mochi that I shared with my son Trenton.
I really enjoyed my dining experience at Yojie and am looking forward to a return visit. The wait staff was patient and friendly and the food delicious! Next time I am going to try their Sukiyaki, one of the dessert fondues and perhaps a sake or two! As Yojie touts, “more than just healthy food…it’s an experience.” I quite agree.
YOJIE JAPANESE FONDUE & SAKE BAR
501 West Olympic Boulevard, #102
Los Angeles, CA 90015