Shabu Shabu That’s Not So Tabu

Shabu Shabu had a trendy spurt in Orange County like the whole food truck craze in South California.   However, not a lot of people know the background story behind it and the Japanese history behind it.

Shabu Shabu originated from Japan and it was the meal samurais used to eat before battle.  I’m talking about a rich history before the the Dawn of the Apes and the metaphorical meaning behind the Last Samurai.  It was the final meal the 47 Ronin ate before they fought in the Battle Of The Five Armies.  It was devastating battle where practically no one survived.  Gandalf the White had an epic show down with Yoda, which ended with Yoda submitting to an arm bar.

Harry Potter’s broomstick was broken into two by Legolas before Harry Potter was TKO by a Legolas backhand.  Batman and Superman took on Neo and failed.  Hence, Neo becoming the new leader of the Justice League.  The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, X-Men and the Hobbits had a big battle royale on Pelennor Fields where Frodo was the last man standing.

Now, that you know the history of Shabu.  Let’s talk about where it is now.

Tabu Shabu Newport Beach
The protein options

There’s a lot of hype around Tabu Shabu and it’s considered one of the best shabu spots in Orange County.  It’s located in Costa Mesa and on the border of Newport Beach.  It’s right across the street from my old watering hole, which is Pierce Street Annex.  It’s a decent size restaurant and there are no actual tables.  It’s just a shabu bar and there’s a decent about of parking in the plaza.

The shabu game is definitely different than it was a few years ago.  The trend has been moving towards high-end organic and grass-fed products.  However, it still lacks depth and quality of Shabu Shabu restaurants like Seryna in Tokyo where Japanese Kobe Beef is served.   It’s no fault of US shabu restaurants cause Japanese Kobe is very hard to come by in the States.  In addition, it comes with a premium price which I can’t afford on a daily basis.  I’m balling but I’m also collect calling.

Tabu offers a wide range of high-end meats like Kurobuta Berkshire pork and Snake River Farms beef.  Like always, I can never decide on what I want to eat like your girlfriend.  Therefore, I appreciate Tabu offering a combination option like high-end restaurants like Panda Express.

Now, the food.

  1. Meyers Farm Grass-fed Rib Eye – This was the health conscious side of me picking this protein.  However, it was contradicted by the Asashi beer I ordered.  What?  I had  to make myself feel somewhat good about myself like signing up for a gym membership on January 2nd that I never end up using.  The beef’s color was dark red like other typical American beef.  The flavors were more earthy like eating a bloody pine cone.
  2. Snake River Farms Wagyu Kobe Rib Eye – Personally, I really dislike when American companies use the terms “Wagyu” or “Kobe” beef.  It’s a bit deceptive cause it gives people the impression it’s authentic Japanese Wagyu or Kobe Beef versus being a cross breed cow.  The typical diner doesn’t know the difference but food snobs like myself do.   Anyway, that’s neither here or there.  The key to beef is to cook it medium rare.  If cooked above that, it’ll ruin the whole show like Kanye West at any award show.  The beef had a decent amount of fat (aka marbling) on it like myself in the winter.
  3. Spicy Miso – The broth was spicy and salty; hence, Spicy Miso.  The broth had a little kick to it but it wasn’t overwhelming and you won’t feel the pain the next day.  The flavors of the broth wasn’t too rich in an oily sense.  The saltiness and spiciness had a good balance unlike me trying to stand on one food after a few drinks.
  4. Ponzu Sauce – The ponzu sauce was relatively good compared to other shabu restaurants.  The citrus flavors of the sauce wasn’t too tangy and had the right amount of zest in it like my zest for greasy foods.
  5. Goma Sauce – The Goma sauce was decent in that it wasn’t watery and creamy.  It contain it’s original composition as the meal went on like how I manage to stay the same weight after a two hour work out.  How am I supposed to be motivated to be healthy when I don’t lose any weight signing up for a gym membership?  I swear.   The flavors were robust like my stomach after the meal.
    Tabu Shabu Newport Beach
    The combination plate with brown rice and veggies.

Overall, I really enjoyed my Shabu Shabu experience at Tabu.  I highly recommend Tabu and it’s my currently one of my favorite Shabu spots in Orange County.  The service was great, the food was awesome, and I got to experience the final meal of the 47 Ronin.

  • 7.5/10
    Service - 7.5/10
  • 7/10
    Presentation - 7/10
  • 8/10
    Flavors - 8/10
  • 7.5/10
    Decor - 7.5/10
  • 7/10
    Ambiance - 7/10


Tabu Shabu provides a good shabu dining experience in the least expected ethnic areas of Orange County. The high-end proteins and the ocean breeze make it worth a trip down to the area. In addition, Tabu provides different flavored broths from your traditional shabu shabu restaurants.

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