Saturday February 24th 2018

“King Shabu Shabu”

Shabu-shabu is a Japanese nabemono hotpot dish of thinly sliced meat and vegetables boiled in water. The term is onomatopoeic, derived from the sound emitted when the ingredients are stirred in the cooking pot and served with dipping sauces. Wikipedia . This is the definition of the experience of Japanese dining that one can experience for themselves in Riverwoods at King Shabu Shabu, a wonderful new spot that will easily become a destination in the North Shore.
The restaurant is located in a strip center, on Milwaukee Avenue , just north of Deerfield Road (which is Busch Parkway west of Milwaukee Avenue) that has many fast food dining spaces. King Shabu Shabu stands out from the others because it is far from fast food. In fact, it is a dining experience that can be considered a “dining entertainment”. Let me explain this. Upon entering this brightly lit dining room, with a bar, one gets the feeling that you are about to enter a new dining zone. Each table (as well as the serving bar in the center of the space) is set-up in a way where there is a pot in front of each seating area.
The menu is one that offers a strong variety of entree’s, but know that the dinner is one that you will create. Once you are seated by your server, and you review the menu, they will explain how the dinner should be done. We began with drinks. I had my usual Vodka martini, but Ryan (the GM) chose a special one for me- Boyd and Blair Potato Vodka. FYI: King Shabu Shabu, being a family owned and operated business tries to offer products from other family owned and operated businesses, for which I say “Bravo”! I wish everyone would do this and keep our small businesses growing. Casey had a glass of wine and Jane tried  the Feng Shui (gin, sake , lychee, thyme and lemon-which she loved). They have a wonderful selection of liquors from local breweries and distilleries. Again, I applaud them for this.
The daily special sheet included an appetizer, seared scallop served with edamame hummus that is to die for. In fact, the hummus is amazing and so flavorful we ordered two sides that were served with lotus and vegetable chips-something different, something special! Our server, Angel then brought out all of the ingredients for sauces and items that could be tossed into our pot for seasoning. Each of us received our own  and then he brought us our bowl of vegetables: WOW! An amazing assortment of items, lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, corn on the cob, carrots, scallions, sweet potato, squash, fish cakes, radishes and much more. We placed ours using the tongs that were part of our setting into the steaming water (which is on its way to becoming a broth).
And then came the entrees:
Since we always try to check out the entire menu, each of us ordered something else, so we could mix it up and try it all (well, almost all). Jane had the Rib Eye, Barry the Free-range Amish chicken, Casey, the wild Texas Shrimp and I decided, since we are going Japanese to taste the Japanese Wagyu grade A5. We were able to portion out the sizes (the choices are large and varied) and there are ways that you can do add-ons allowing you to do a sampling of meats or fish you might not do alone, but in this way, can sample.
For the most part, we did the minimums and added some rice which added greatly to the meal.
Now, we customized our sauces, added the veggies and the seasoning to our pot, then we cooked the items (in most cases, less than a minute) and then dipped them into our sauces and finally dined on the creations that we had helped make. A divine experience and a tasty dinner, for sure! For about an hour we were able to sit and cook, dine and talk to each other- not a cell phone was on the table, making the experience even more special. Even with the Cubs on the TV (trouncing the Diamondbacks) we were so involved with this experience that we just savored what we were enjoying- a great time with our friends and good (and healthy) dining! Who could ask for anything more?
Oh, yes! They have desserts- very simple , ice cream or “mochi ice cream”  9 flavors of a special ice cream wrapped in a dough that many will find “orgasmic”. Some young men at the table next to ours did a platter of all nine and one could see the sparkle in their eyes as they consumed them one by one.
One of the beauties of this restaurant is the full experience- one does not need to come here before anything. This experience is in fact, a dining experience, that if shared with friends, family or loved ones is just that an experience to share (and remember). One might ask if a family can enjoy this experience. I say, “Why not “? In fact, they have a kids menu where they can get 3 oz of any other items: pork, rib eye, chicken, salmon, shrimp or vegetarian with veggies for only $3 ( let’s see Denny’s beat this”). The kids will fall in love with the mochi ice cream for sure!
King Shabu Shabu is a welcome addition to the Milwaukee Avenue tradition of great dining and is close enough to Marriott Theatre to be an early dining experience before a show or dinner after a matinée ( my choice, as I would not want to rush this experience). By the way, you have made a wonderful broth during the experience, so might as well take it home for the next day- it is magnificent!
The address is 2055 Milwaukee Avenue in Riverwoods ( just North of Deerfield Road) on Milwaukee Avenue- phone number 1-224-619-1877. The space is not huge and dining takes a while, so I suggest getting there early. For info

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