Tabu Shabu has arrived on 30th Street just in time to welcome diners in from the rain and warm their bellies with shabu-shabu, or Japanese-style hot pot. Expanding from Orange County, where it operates popular locations in Huntington Beach and Costa Mesa, the eatery replaces Paesano’s in North Park. The 50-year-old space has been thoroughly remodeled and now features a horseshoe-shaped dining bar with individual cooktops at every seat.
The dining experience starts with your own pot of broth — options range from seaweed dashi and spicy miso to tonkotsu pork and sukiyaki — and a choice of proteins, from waygu short rib to grassfed rib eye, Kurobuta pork, and wild scallops, to cook in the seasoned stock and dip in either sesame sauce or ponzu that can be punched up with ‘hot drops’, a fiery hot pepper infusion. Meals also come with rice and noodles, plus a plate of various vegetables. Intrepid and incredibly hungry diners can pre-book the ‘Godzilla Challenge’ meal, which includes three pounds of meat plus veggies, rice, dumplings, and porridge and is free if you polish everything off in less than 30 minutes.
The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner, with a 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. weekday happy hour and a bottomless sake brunch on weekends. Owner Jeff Chon is planning another Tabu Shabu location in Carlsbad at The Square at Bressi Ranch, with the potential for more in the San Diego area.