Shabu Shabu: Japanese for "Expensive Egg Dish You Make Yourself"

Many of my friends are cultured individuals who grew up in New York and have traveled the world in search of … I don’t know what, because I don’t understand them, but let’s just say that I’m betting none of them ever spent two hours looking for pizza in Paris. Which I have. Just so you know what you’re dealing with, here.

This disparity in our goals, inner make-up, etc, makes it hard to find a late night snack sometimes, especially when we’re drinking. Example:

Friend: Oooh, we should get dumplings.

Me: Do they have cheese?

Friend: No, they’re like … you’ve never had dumplings?

Me: Is there gravy?

And so on.

Usually, I win the argument and drag them sighing into a pizza joint. But sometimes, because I grownups are expected to “compromise” and “listen to people” and “pretend to care,” I have to eat something that is not primarily Wonderbread and Ragu.

As a result, I wound up in a Japanese place the other night where you cook your own food at your table in a pot of boiling water. Your “food,” BTW, consists of weird-looking mushrooms, various sea creatures that might still be alive and definitely were an hour ago, scraps of unidentifiable land mammal and a big chunk of lettuce. Also an egg, which the Mouse explained to me is meant to be cracked into your sauce dish and mixed with various condiments, for dipping. I want to repeat that, so that I can be sure you understand this: You are supposed to dip your food, excuse me “food,” which you have cooked yourself, for $15, into RAW EGG and then eat it. And then, when you get food poisoning and wind up in the hospital, one assumes that the nursing staff will triage you to the Room Full of Assholes Who Have Only Themselves to Blame, where you will occupy a gurney next to a late-stage alcoholic and a tourist who got shanked by a homeless dude outside Bowery Mission while examining a giant map and wearing a straw hat and holding his wallet in his teeth.

The dips themselves were confusing. There was green stuff and white stuff and a couple different bottles of red stuff. I asked the Mouse to show me the soy sauce for white people, and he gave me what looked like a pitcher of maple syrup.

“Is this maple syrup?” I asked.

He shook his head sadly.

“Cuz I like maple syrup.”

No dice.

At the table, he showed us how to turn on our burners and crack our eggs and prepare the sauce. For some reason, my burner worked best, so my water started boiling before anyone else’s.

“Why is hers boiling?” Madcat asked. “Why isn’t mine boiling? Mine is broken. It doesn’t work.”

So the Mouse had to get up and adjust her burners. By this time, I’m sure he was wishing we’d just gotten pizza.

“What are you doing?” he asked me.

I was up-ending my dish of egg and soy sauce into the boiling water.

“I’m making myself a poached egg.”

He paused. “That’s almost brilliant.”

“I have excellent coping mechanisms.”

Later, I got a slice of pizza.

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7 thoughts on “Shabu Shabu: Japanese for "Expensive Egg Dish You Make Yourself"

  1. i spent alot of time in spain looking for peanut butter. months, off and on. when i finally found it in an asian food supermarket, they had about 5 varieties, including jiffy. apparently native non-asian spaniards only like the traditional hazelnut, chocolate or chocolate/vanilla swirl spread in their sandwiches.

  2. i spent alot of time in spain looking for peanut butter. months, off and on. when i finally found it in an asian food supermarket, they had about 5 varieties, including jiffy. apparently native non-asian spaniards only like the traditional hazelnut, chocolate or chocolate/vanilla swirl spread in their sandwiches.

  3. on the topic of coping mechanisms, my dad once called and left me a message (on the work voicemail no less!) saying, “madcat, it’s time to talk about your coping mechanisms, or lack thereof.”

    so, although I was happy with the Shabu Shabu (aside from heat/boiling/fire issues), perhaps we should chat about coping.

  4. I have a couple of comments:
    1. Chinese food…yuck.
    2. Poached egg-brilliant!
    3. I wish I could have seen that.
    4. So you’ve heard about our triage room for crazies.
    Love, Ma Smash

  5. Food is like gasoline for the body. Unless you’ve got some kinda supercharged v8 under the hood, I see no reason to buy premium.

  6. Maybe you never lie around worrying about whether you are hip or not, the way most of us do from time to time, but rest assured that anyone with friends named Madcat and The Drunken Mouse has attained a very high level of hipness. To say nothing of *being* someone named Madcat or The Drunken Mouse.

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