Steamin’ at Shabu Shabu House in Little Tokyo

Last weekend was the first time I used my A/C nonstop since moving to Los Angeles. My coworkers warned me that it could reach as high as the 100 during the summer months. Last weekend proved it with Woodland Hills reaching 105 during the day. I don’t know why I was insistent to go to the Shabu Shabu House this particular weekend if only for the fact that I had been locked out of getting into the restaurant the last two times. So I was determined to get in for lunch at the third attempt which also happened to be on warmest Sunday to date.


The Shabu Shabu House is located in Little Tokyo. The last few times I’ve been to Little Tokyo is pick up someone up from Union Station and both times I’ve tried to get into the Shabu Shabu House. The signup list would fill up almost two pages before the restaurant opened.

Lining up for Shabu Shabu House

It was either the low prices or the food but the previous times I placed my named on the waiting list, it took over two hours with still no chance of getting in. For the third attempt, I arrived two hours before it opened for the Sunday lunch rush and was still only the 8th person on the list. Waiting for the restaurant to open wasn’t horrible. There was ample shade alongside neighboring buildings and a delicious bakery next door but it didn’t help with the heat. The wait paid off when we got it with the first crowd of lunch people.

Shabu Shabu House menu

The menu is simple: either choice A (10 slices of meat for $8.77) or B (15 slices for $10.53). There are exactly 24 seats in the entire restaurant, all at the counter. The counter seating makes sense since was efficient and fast. My water glass was only half empty for a second before it was quickly refilled. But it seemed like the major objective for this restaurant was to get people their food and usher them out to get the next group of 24 diners in. No lunch chit chat here over a leisurely meal. I couldn’t help but notice the it took approximately 30-40 minutes from sitting down to paying the bill.

Shabu Shabu House meal

The meal itself was hearty and cheap. Actually the cheapest I’ve seen so far in Los Angeles County. The taste and quality of the meal was not affected. Downside? The lack of air conditioning. Everyone in the restaurant including myself had little beads of sweats on their brow from the boiling cauldron of water sitting only a few inches from their plate and reservations are not taken. It’s a first come first serve. I will return again but with a two hour buffer and when the temperature outside is a lot cooler.

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