Thursday, March 25, 2010

Soup Worth Sweating For

I know, I know. What am I doing, eating hot soup in the middle of this punishing Manila summer? I thought the same thing when my sister, Foxychef, sent me a text that she is having Shabu-shabu (an oriental stew consisting of meat, seafoods, noodles and vegetables, usually cooked right on the table) with my parents for lunch and they are picking me up at the office. But then, I haven’t seen Foxychef this excited about food in a really long time, so I knew that there must be something special about this particular shabu-shabu.

Lau Chan is a small operation and it looks like it hasn’t changed since the day it opened. The dated furniture, harsh fluorescent lighting and grandma’s wallpaper immediately tell you that this is not a date place. For sure, that is not the reason this place is packed during lunch and the dining room is abuzz with activity. “It’s all about the food”, I thought to myself.

After we were seated, the server asked us what kind of broth we wanted for our shabu-shabu. From a sheet of paper, we picked out the items we wanted to cook in the broth, such as fresh beef and squid balls, vegetables, sliced beef belly, fish cakes, and udon noodles. Bowls of minced garlic, hot chili peppers, sate sauce and shabu-shabu sauce were placed in front of us. Compared to the ones at Mini Shabu-shabu, the sauces are much tastier and more authentic.

As we wait for the broth to boil, I wonder just how different this shabu-shabu could be from the others I have tried. After all, boiled food is just that- boiled food. Right?

Wrong! As we slowly immersed the ingredients into the boiling soup, you could smell the deep, concentrated spices that you can only get from hours of simmering. The flavorful broth lends its strong essence to the vegetables and the meats as they quickly cook in the hotpot. Paper-thin slices of beef belly are dipped into the pot for a few seconds before dunking it again into the sauce mixture. With the thick udon, this stew on its own is a pretty hearty meal. But, with the savory aromas from the pot and the addictive dipping sauce, I could not stop myself from cooking and eating until there was no space left in my groaning stomach.

Full beyond belief with sweat hanging from my upper lip, I lean back on my chair with a satisfied grin. That was probably the best shabu-shabu meal I have had so far. And it only got better when we got the check for less than P1000. It’s going to be hard to top that.

Lau Chan Shabu-shabu and Fast Foods
Mabini St.
Malate, Manila


Manila Girl said...

Oh my gosh, I'm definitely going to try this. Our meal at Healthy Shabu Shabu didn't make a lasting impression on me, but I'm willing to (and I feel that I must) give shabu shabu another try!

Chinkee said...

Hi Manila Girl! Yes, do try it out. Its definitely not The Four Seasons, but if you leave your prejudices at the door, I'm sure you'll have a great meal.:-) I still can't get over how cheap it was!

Jin said...

Ah, Lau Chan, my number 2 go-to place for shabu shabu in the city!

"The dated furniture, harsh fluorescent lighting and grandma’s wallpaper immediately tell you that this is not a date place..." You forgot to mention, no water in the toilets, too! Hahaha!

I love this place! You are right, Chinkee, it is all about the food!

Chinkee said...

Hi Jin! Actually when I wrote this I haven't seen their toilets. I discovered it though last week when we had lunch there again. Hahaha! Yes, it is REALLY all about the food:-)

I am interested to know what your numero uno shabu-shabu place is... My family loves the stuff, even my three year old niece craves for it!

Jin said...

It's King One along Macapagal Avenue. The rotary style can make the dining experience exciting/stressful, depending on your hunger level. If you're the type who cannot wait, do what I do and tip the waiter so he brings you whatever you want and fast. The place is cleaner, food is fresher and the best part is, you can eat all you can for just 500 bucks! :)

Miguel said...

My wife loves Shabu Shabu...I better take her here one day

Chinkee said...

Jin- Heeey... pwede! Will try King One soon. Thanks!;-)

Mig- Yeah, try it! But I got to warn you, the place is really "old school", to say the least. Thing is, the shabu-shabu is really the best I've tried. Let me know what you think:-)

Noel said...

Chinks, which broth did you choose? I don't think you mentioned. Inquiring minds want to kow.


Chinkee said...

Hi Noel! You're right, I forgot to mention. Bad, bad food blogger! Hehe. We had the sate broth, I believe:-)