Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Ganso-Shabuway Introduces Its Newest Dishes

I remember the last time I was at a hot pot place was at Tong Yang at SM Southmall. I think I was sophomore in high school so that was around 1998. It's been that long since I stepped into a shabu-shabu place, so when I got invited to Ganso-Shabuway, I was excited to see how the hotpot industry has evolved since the late 90's.

Ganso-Shabuway was introducing some non-hotpot items to their menu, dishes that are considered to be Japanese comfort food and that would go perfect with any hotpot in this rainy weather. I checked it out with Jericho, as this was a nice way of easing my way into the whole hotpot concept without feeling apprehensive of having to cook my own food.

The history of Shabuway began in August 2004, when Eiichi Mochizuki & Koji Kikura opened the first shabu-shabu restaurant in San Mateo, California. The name "Shabuway," which is a made-up word meaning "The road to shabu-shabu for shabu-shabu lovers." It was named to offer our customers the best Japanese style hot pot. Shabuway is all about customer service and providing our customers a phenomenal dinning experience.

My Ganso-Shabuway night started with appetizers. First on the list was their Nasu Miso Itame (P338), eggplant served on a bed of silky tofu topped with sesame seeds and a miso glaze. This was probably my favorite appetizer of the night, with the stir-fried eggplant giving just the right amount of bite, and the soft yet firm silky tofu absorbing the sweetened miso.

I tried the Beef Wontons (P228) next. The deep fried wontons are stuffed with beef, pork, mixed vegetables, and mushrooms. It was ok. I have a thing for wontons - the thin, crispy outer layer gives way to the hot savory center. Mmm...

Jericho was very happy that this favorite Beef Gyoza (P228) is now a staple appetizer at Ganso-Shabuway. The Pan-fried dumplings are stuffed with beef, pork, mixed vegetables and mushrooms, similar to the wontons but wrapped differently. So you have the same taste, but with different textures.

I liked the Chicken Karaage (P258) a lot. It is Ganso-Shabuway's take on fried chicken, but a healthier version, with the marinated fried chicken is served over squash instead of fries. The chicken wasn't at all oily, and squeezing a bit of lemon over everything gave the dish a fresh contrast. The butternut squash was a pretty good substitute for the potatoes, and you don't pack on as much of the pounds as you would if these were fries.

Moving on to the main dishes, I tried the Tuna Belly (P338) first. Glazed with a garlic butter yakiniku sauce, I couldn't help but try to sop up all that garlicky butter. The tuna belly seemed to melt once it touched my tongue, pairing the rich, fatty fish with a bowl of short-grained Japanese rice.

The crispy Ebi Fry (P388) looked glorious - with the panko-encrusted tempura served with mixed greens and a dipping sauce. I like that the take on regular ol' tempura here is in a salad. Add a squeeze of lemon for a bit of acid and you're in business.

If you'd rather enjoy your tempura with rice, the Ebi Curry (P388) is for you. You've got the same crispy ebi tempura this time over rice topped with Ganso-Shabuway's homemade curry sauce. Being a fan of red hot chili peppers, I was disappointed that the curry sauce didn't have any heat. I mean, that's the reason why I love the stuff - because of the spices in the curry, which usually includes some kind of pepper.

Ganso-Shabuway's Beef Curry (P358) was the same. Using USDA Choice Angus beef this time, the flavor fell short with the curry.

The last of the non-shabu-shabu entrées was the Beef Yakiniku (P358) - USDA Choice Angus beef served over rice and topped with a homemade yakiniku sauce with a sprinkling of sesame seeds. It wasn't anything special.

Lastly, I tried Ganso-Shabuway's newest offering in the shabu shabu department, the Shabuyaki. A hotpot is filled with an assortment glass noodles, Napa cabbage, watercress, spinach, carrots, pumpkin, green onions, tofu, enoki mushrooms, shimeji mushrooms, and naruto in a sukiyaki-like broth.

Although the fresh ingredients were beautiful and fresh on their own, I found the broth to be way too salty and ended up just picking off the individual ingredients out of my bowl.

I have to say, Ganso-Shabuway's new dishes didn't have the wow factor I was looking for. None of them really blew me away, and I find them to be too expensive for the portions. Nonetheless, Ganso-Sabuway's regular hotpot dishes are superb, with beautifully marbled, thin slices of USDA grade beef and a spicy miso broth that can warm me up from the rain any time.

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Images taken by Jericho San Miguel of The Pixel Project Manila

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