The essence of a good shabu-shabu, other than the soup bases, is the incorporation of quality meats, fresh seafood and vegetables.
And oh, that comforting porridge created by the ‘leftover’ soup at the end of the meal.
Can’t deny that Singapore is a hotpot-lovin’ nation, yet less is talked about Japanese shabu-shabu. It gets its name from the ”swish swish” sounds as diners only need to lightly swish the meats around in the boiling broth before eating.
Hidden on Level 3 of Paya Lebar Quarter (PLQ) Mall is Makino, a “do-it-yourself” style Japanese shabu-shabu restaurant conceptualised by the team behind Akashi Group (Akashi Japanese Restaurant, Akanoya, London Fat Duck, Gyoza-Ya).
Japanese shabu-shabu (しゃぶしゃぶ) is a nabemono hotpot dish of thinly sliced meat and vegetables boiled in water and served with dipping sauces.
The difference at Makino is that the soup bases are actually quite interesting and varied, created for the local palate as well.
The variety of Japanese soup bases you can find include the Tori Soup (a 36 hours cooked chicken broth), Mentaiko Soup, Tsurai Miso Soup, Kinoko Soup (assorted mushroom), Tonkotsu Soup, Kaisen Soup (Seafood), Kosho Tonkotsu (pepper pork broth), Tomato Soup and even Singapore Laksa.
The soups are placed in a split nabe pot with a divider down the center, so that diners cook with two different kinds of broth at once.
Each pot serves from 2 to 5 pax, and the soups cost from $9 to $12 per side. Here are the recommended soup choices:
While we have seen mentaiko incorporated in various dishes, having it as a shabu-shabu base certainly sounds very enticing.
Mentaiko (明太子) is made from whole roe sacs of Alaskan pollack, then cured with salt and marinated in various seasonings and spices. When you add them in soup, you get a slight-spicy and savoury taste which is pretty-unique.
The cod roe here is shaped into a fish, which is let it go into the soup during serving then slowly dissolves.
As the soup is already very flavourful, I would recommend adding the plainer tasting ingredients such as fishballs and vegetables, then you get a bit of that sweetness with alluring spiciness.
The tonkotsu broth will be certainly be a crowd-favourite. Cooked with pork bones that have been simmered for hours, the result is a creamy, nearly white in colour and flavourful broth.
In fact, it is tasty enough to drink on its own.
Do not worry as the thickness and richness won’t be like the typical ramen, as it is toned down to best complement meat slices and vegetables.
Kaisen Seafood Soup
A dashi soup base cooked with fresh seafood such as prawns for umami flavour. Great to go with seafood such as fish slices, fresh tiger prawns, Hokkaido scallops, seasonal clams, and fish curd.
Tsurai Miso Soup
Add spices and chilli to miso broth provided this soup a richer taste and aroma. Do order some ramen noodles to go along, so that you can cook up some DIY spicy bowl of ramen.
Shabu-shabu is best eaten with a variety of thinly sliced meats and fresh vegetables. With many of the ingredients imported directly from Japan, they are as fresh as they get.
Also take note that the raw meats here are sliced paper thin, and you would just need to swish the slices briefly in the hot stock for a couple of seconds, rather than submerging in them.
I would recommend getting a variety of meats, but do balance it off with some tofu and vegetables such as Tomio aka Dou Miao – Makino grows these fresh bean seedlings organically.
Check out the following recommended hotpot ingredients:
Beef Platter ($52), included with wagyu slices, sirloin slices, chuck tender slices, beef cubes, beef balls, beef tripe, honeycomb tripe, and beef tendon.
Saikoro Steak ($18) – marbled beef steak cubes
Karubi ($16) – short ribs
Buta Menchi – fresh minced pork belly ($8.80) and Tori Menchi ($8.80) – fresh minced chicken
Mentaiko ($16) – pollock roe
Fishball with Roe ($6)
Soft Boiled Marinated Quail Egg ($6)
Yuba ($8) – crispy beancurd skin
Sakana Aburaage ($6) – signature Makino fish beancurd
Yamabushitake ($12.80) – Japanese Lion’s Mane Mushroom; Tamogitake ($10.80) – golden oyster mushroom; Hiratake ($10.80) – ruby oyster mushroom; and Maitake ($12.80) – hen of the wood mushroom. Many of these mushrooms varieties from Japan that are unique and not so common in Singapore.
Gyo Udon ($5.80) – Japanese fish meat udon; and Ramen ($5.80) – Japanese wheat noodles to be pair with the Tonkotsu Soup to create your very own ramen
One thing about shabu-shabu which sets it apart from other kinds of Japanese hot pot meals is that it involves dipping meat and vegetables into a large variety of assorted sauces.
The sauces and condiments (available at $3 per person) include sesame sauce, ponzu, layu (chilli oil), chilli padi, garlic, coriander and more, and a specially-created Makino sauce.
The highlight of the shabu-shabu is the Makino Shabu Zousui ($8) – the ‘ritual’ of making porridge at the end of the meal.
Once the meat and vegetables have been mostly eaten, the leftover broth (I would recommend tonkotsu) from the pot customarily combined with the rice to create a comforting congee which is the perfect end to the meal. You can already imagine how flavourful the bowl would be.
Aside shabu-shabu, Makino’s menu also covers a variety of other dishes like set meals, sashimi and sushi; with fuss-free lunches available from $9.90 onwards.
Recommended ala carte dishes to get include the Gyu Teriyaki Donburi ($25), Shake Mentaiko Donburi ($23), Gyu Niku Inaniwa Udon ($20.80) and Nadare Moriawade ($12.80 onwards) which are their signature avalanche sushi rolls.
More than just shabu-shabu to get your fill of Japanese food.
* This entry is brought to you in partnership with Makino.