The Skinny On Shabu Shabu

Jo McGarry
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Friday - September 29, 2006
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Kristie Cachola and Tori Itamoto
Kristie Cachola and Tori Itamoto

A recent study of American eating habits showed that most of us are eating way too much. Going out for dinner can add thousands of calories to your daily intake, depending on the choices you make. That huge plate of pasta with Alfredo sauce you’ve been craving has more than enough calories for an entire day - and a quick stop at a fast food place for a burger or chicken nugget snack can add a ton of empty, unwanted calories.

If you’re watching your weight but enjoy eating out regularly, there’s an almost perfect way to eat - shabu shabu. The Japanese style of preparing thinly sliced meats, chicken or fish over a grill at your own table with accompanying platters of vegetables added to a simmering broth provides both an interesting way to eat - and a healthy one.

“Shabu shabu is a really good way for people who watch what they eat to enjoy lunch or dinner without adding too many extra calories,” says the enviably slim Kristie Cachola, co-owner of Shabu Shabu Time, located at the Sam Sung Plaza, off Keeaumoku Street.

Cachola and her partner, Tori Itamoto, are experts in the art of eating shabu shabu-style - they’ve eaten at every shabu shabu restaurant on the island.

“We’re addicted,” says Cachola, who spent the better part of the past few years eating in various shabu shabu restaurants.

“We ate shabu shabu four times a week for a couple of years,” says Cachola with a huge grin. “And we’d be eating at the various restaurants and eventually taking note of everything that we liked - and didn’t like - about each place.”

There’s a lot to love about the cook-it-yourself technique, and Cachola and Itamoto decided that they had something different to offer.

“We felt that the sauce and the quality of the meat were the things that set the good places apart,” she explains. “So we decided to open our own place and make our own sauces.”

Using friends and family as taste testers, and employing the talents of chef friends, the two created four signature sauces that have become a big hit with customers. But Cachola and Itamoto also wanted to operate a restaurant that appealed to customers looking for good food - and great value.

“We wanted to create a balance between the higher-end restaurants and the bottom end of the scale where you don’t get as good quality meat,” says Kristie.

Subsequently the set meals at Shabu Shabu Time start at $10.95 for lunch, with beef and pork sets costing just $2 more at dinner.

Prime Rib, Prime Rib and Shrimp, and Pork Loin and Clams all cost around $20.

“We’re using a really high quality beef,” says Kristie, “and people are just amazed at the value for money.”

Lunch specials come with rice and a vegetable platter that includes won bok, baby bok choy, choy sum, zucchini, tofu, kamaboko and udon noodles, and a choice of beef, pork or chicken, or a combination of meats.

A la carte items are also available and include homemade won ton, shrimp balls, clams, noodles, miso soup, gyoza, shrimp shumai and Spam.

“This is one of the healthiest ways to eat,” says Tori, “and it’s fun.”

Shabu Shabu Time 655 Keeaumoku St.

Sam Sung Plaza, Honolulu 941-1020 Lunch: daily 11a.m.-2 p.m. Dinner: Sunday through Thursday 5-10 p.m., Friday and Saturday 5 p.m.-3 a.m.

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