While DC was going through a ridiculous snow storm the first week of March, it was almost 80 degrees in southern California. This trip made me realize how much of a more pleasant person I am when the weather is nice. I would wake up at 6:30am for a run, and just knowing that it was sunny and warm enough to go out in shorts and a tee shirt was enough for me to want to throw up my arms and sing out “Gooooooooooood morning!!!” like Amy Adams in Enchanted. After a particularly beautiful day in Malibu, my dad and I headed back on the Pacific Coast Highway right into traffic to Simi Valley. Seriously though, what is up with traffic around Los Angeles? What I have realized after spending just over a week there is that you basically just need to avoid roads at all times except between 11am-3pm. This traffic makes rush hour traffic in DC seem as pleasant as a leisurely brunch at Ted’s Bulletin on a Sunday afternoon. I took the screenshot below at 4pm on a Thursday afternoon of traffic around LA.
What is that mess? That looks like a sick joke. Props to all the people out there dealing with that five times a week. Handling the roads around DC during the week days is enough to make me want to sign up for anger management classes, I cannot even imagine what my mental state would be like on the other coast. Luckily, the drive back to Simi Valley was not too horrific, and the scenic route we took made the trip much more pleasant. For dinner, we stopped by a Japanese spot recommended to us by my cousin: The Shabu.
The Shabu, a small restaurant located in a strip mall, serves traditional Japanese cuisine like ramen, sushi, and shabu-shabu. Shabu-shabu is the Japanese style of hot pot: meat and veggies are cooked in a boiling broth in front of you. In Japanese, “shabu shabu” literally translates to “swish swish.” This refers to the technique used to prepare the dish: you use your chopsticks move/”swish” your food around in the broth to cook it. We decided to get a spicy tuna roll to start, and an order of seafood shabu-shabu to split. The waitress set up our burner, and added some pepper sauce to broth after we assured her we would prefer to have a spicier broth. The shabu-shabu is served with a heaping plate of vegetables and noodles, which we threw into the pot first once the water started to boil. After a few minutes, we dumped all of the seafood in, which consisted of shrimp, mussels, scallops, squid, chunks of white fish and fish balls.
The broth base was delicious, and the flavor intensified as the meat continued to cook. The food is served with two dipping sauces: a citrusy ponzu and a creamy goma (sesame) sauce. While the hot pot was delicious on its own, I liked that we could dip the ingredients into the different sauces to change up the flavor profile, which adds a whole new dimension to the meal. I loved the creamy sesame sauce and ended up pouring it straight into my bowl to mix with everything. After finishing up the shabu, we decided we still had room for dessert and ordered the green tea ice cream to share. The ice cream was refreshing, and a wonderful sweet note to end our meal.
Overall, Shabu is a fun spot for a casual dinner. It is clean, affordable, with a number of appealing options to fill your stomach. I left feeling satisfied, and not overly stuffed which is an accomplishment because sometimes on vacation I get into a “calories don’t count mode” and shovel food into my mouth like the apocalypse is coming. In this case, I ate enough to fill me up but did not feel the need to lay down immediately afterwards.