Friday, December 4, 2009


Korean shabu shabu. I was extremely suspicious - a restaurant claiming to offer Korean cuisine that doesn't even have a menu in Korean?? And what the hell is Korean shabu shabu - I've never had Korean shabu shabu in my 30 years of existence. Nomenclature aside, whenever I have a red meat craving (which is very rarely), Imasara is where I go for delicious fat-marbled beef, which you cook tableside in a very clean-tasting broth, then dip in a sesame-soy sauce that you flavor to your taste with garlic, red pepper paste, red pepper flakes, green onions and vinegar. If you add enough garlic and red pepper paste, the sauce does indeed remind you of Korean food.

The menu is entirely in Japanese and the English version is a severely reduced version that includes only the items they want you to order (for example, it only lists the more expensive, extra-fatty beef, which I think is way too greasy. The normal fatty beef is tender and fatty enough and is 1000 yen less per serving). If you can't read the menu, just ask for the regular beef moyanabe (2950 yen per person), which also includes a bed of bean sprouts and cabbage. They also have fatty pork (like uncured bacon), which is also delicious - this also comes in two versions, fatty or extra fatty - I always go with the regular fatty.

The extensive menu also includes various Korean dishes including bibimbap, naengmyun, jun (savory pancakes which for some reason is called jijimi in Japan, but I have known it as jun all my life). However, I have never tried these, nor have I ever seen anyone else dining at Imasara eating them. Everyone goes for the moyanabe, which I think means Korean shabu shabu.

Regular beef moyanabe for two - slices of fatty marbled beef on a bed of bean sprouts and cabbage, which you cook in the broth once it starts boiling

A la carte serving of regular fatty pork

The condiments you can add to your sesame-soy sauce to your taste

The finished sauce - mine had extra garlic and red pepper paste, which made for some kicking breath afterward

Food rating: *** and a half
Bang for buck rating: 3.5

The essentials:
Location: on the 8th floor of the building across from the Peacock grocery store in Azabujuban
Average price of meal for two: 8000 yen (~$90)

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