Last week Brittney invited a bunch of us to Urban Shabu for hot pot. The all you can eat style dinner is one of my favorite meals for winter – a nice warm broth, loads of meat and seafood, extra humidity for those with parched skin? What more can you ask for. Edmonton seems to have exploded in hot pot restaurants, with Asian Express Hot Pot the first to serve individual pots. Then came Urban Shabu by the dim sum owners of Urban China. Not long after, 97 Hot Pot right across the street. If three hot pot restaurants wasn’t enough for Edmontonians, two more have opened since my last hot pot review: Bobo Hot Pot (15326 Stony Plain Road) and Chili Hot Pot (7219 – 104 St), and with another Asian Express Hot Pot location on the way! Bonkers.
Anyways! I’ve been to Urban Shabu numerous times now and have enjoyed all of my visits. I’m going to say I never blogged about it because all my photos were of lamb slices piled over top of each other every time I went out with Joe and his friends. They love lamb. This time around, my dinner dates ordered a good variety of meat cuts, seafood, vegetables, and noodles though so I figured a post was due. Seth (@PokerClack) was all about the noodles. The guy loves his egg noodles.
Individual pots are the way to go. You can keep track of what you put into your soup and not have to worry about what everybody else is doing! Unless you’re like Diane (What Would Argenplath Pay?) who forgets! How do you cook your wintermelon? #icookmywintermelon not to the point of mushiness… haha! I won’t lie though, there’s been times when I’ve forgotten a thing or two in the pot and by the end of the meal it’s more of a guessing game of what it actually was.
My go-to dishes are the handmade mashes and that goes for any hot pot place. It’s hard to compare the taste of the mashes when my visits are so far and few in between but Urban Shabu’s is still delicious. I don’t know why I enjoy sectioning off pieces of mash and watching them expand into balls in my soup pot, but I do. Call me a weirdo. Make sure you section it into pieces though (roughly 3 – 4 pieces per order) or else you’ll just get one large lumpy ball of seafood, as Brittney learned on a previous meal.
Other favorites of mine: lamb slices (Joe rubbed off on me!), beef tripe, fried bean curd (unpictured), and mounds of baby bok choy and spinach!
It was a Wednesday night, so service was excellent as the restaurant wasn’t jam-packed with people. I’ve never seen the sauces at the sauce table empty before which leads me to believe they maintain it quite often, refilling the popular ones such as soy sauce, hoisin sauce, and oyster sauce. The best part of Urban Shabu is the concern for the “post hot pot” smell. If the restaurant was full, and fifty little pots of soups and spices were boiling away, cooking whatever your heart desired… that steam has to go somewhere. I’ll tell you where it goes! It goes into your hair, your skin, your clothes! You can’t go anywhere else after hot pot, the shower is your destined location. But with Urban Shabu, it’s not so bad. The ventilation is the best of the three restaurants in Chinatown, plus they have purple seat covers for your jackets if you request them. Thumbs up!
Another thing people like about Urban Shabu? Dessert. They offer more than your usual vanilla or strawberry ice cream. They’ve got sweet tofu pudding, mango creme sweet soup (it’s served cold, with tapioca), and a delicious version of longan berry jello (“cake” on their menu) that won’t fall apart on you when you pick it up. Love. They also have Japanese style sesame balls which I haven’t tried yet, and green tea or black sesame ice cream.
So now that I’ve reviewed all three on the blog, what do I actually think? My personal preference is Urban Shabu and it always has been. I think the clean modern look, clear windows with no condensation, and the way my hair smells afterwards is a big factor. Food wise though, they’re all pretty similar. 97 Hot Pot had more of a consistency with how they plate their dishes, especially the meat cuts, making it easier to gauge how many plates to order. I also thought 97 Hot Pot had fresher cuts of meat as well. The mashes, like I said, are hard to compare. Service wise, Urban Shabu does a good job even when it’s busy. Some of my friends love 97 Hot Pot though because of their service button, just press it at your table and tada! Help is on the way. If you need a full array of sauces and easy access to them though, Asian Express Hot Pot takes the cake. I believe they’re cheaper too? I haven’t been there in a while. OH! And Urban Shabu doesn’t do half pots, you know, where they split the pot with a divider so you have a spicy side. Best get your sauce concoction down and add some heat there instead, like Linda (Linda Hoang.com)! Does it all really matter though? Not really. Hot pot = WIN. Thanks to Brittney for the invite! I had a lovely time with everybody (including Matthew!) – good food, great talk – and can’t wait for our next meal!Urban Shabu
9700 – 105 Ave