My brother-in-law E and Sister S hosted an early Thanksgiving at their place. As you can clearly see, it was fabulous! They sure can cook!
We also meet with our wedding officiant on Sunday. This is him here marrying another couple. They call him the 'marrying man', if that's not credibility than I don't know what is. We were supposed to meet at a Starbucks but it was so crowded that we had to move the meeting to a nearby Subway sandwich shop. And so we all sat down inside a Subway that day and hashed out what I hope will be a fun and sweet ceremony.
All the mawwage talk really built up an appetite. Well that and the fact that we had only eaten one meal that day. We didn't know what we wanted at first so I asked M if he wanted something healthy and he didn't seem to mind so I took him to Mokkoji, a shabu shabu joint I stumbled upon after shopping at Kohl's one day.
Shabu shabu is basically the Japanese version of hot-pot, which is just cooking your food in a clear broth. Yes, you literally have to cook your own food but that's half of the fun. After you sit down, they bring out a pot of hot seaweed broth, if you don't like seaweed, don't worry because you can hardly taste it. Along with the broth, you also get a bowl of ponzu dipping sauce (an aged soy sauce with a vinegar-y taste) and another bowl with just black sesame seeds in it that you can grind up with a wooden pestle that they provide. They then pour a smooth peanut sauce over the ground up sesame. So you get a light sauce and a more rich sauce. I love the ponzu sauce! I think it goes good with everything.
It was at this point that our waitress pulls out a small amber colored bottle with a dropper top from under the counter. She then asked if we liked it 'hot', well yeah but what the heck is that stuff? It's pure capsaicin she tells us, it's the stuff that makes things hot. We decided to pass on it but the waitress informs us that the restaurant record was 35 drops by some guy. Probably a crazy guy if you ask me.
So this is what you start with...
Then you order your protein. M ordered the 2 item combination of shrimp and chicken (2-ways, whole and ground up and formed into meatballs).
I ordered the salmon and boy was it was fresh and fatty. It was so good! I ate some of it cooked and some of it raw. It was good both ways.
So this is what you end up with after you throw in everything on the veggie plate that comes with your protein order. The plate includes baby bok-choy, udon noodles, Japanese squash (kabocha), sprouts, napa cabbage, enoki and oyster mushrooms, mustard greens, a couple pieces of sliced carrots cut in the shape of flowers and a cute block of firm tofu with the restaurant's name branded on it. So you basically just throw all the veggies in the pot so that the broth can get all nice and flavorful and then you slowly cook your protein as you eat so that it is piping hot and not get overcooked.
If you still have room after your meal, they make you an after meal rice porridge with the leftover broth from your pot. When you are done eating your main meal, they come over and scoop out any remnants from your pot and then they put in some regular white rice, finely chopped carrots and onions, sesame oil, a red spicy red sauce (sorry I forgot to ask what it was) and a fermented sesame paste (black in color). They stir it until all the liquid is gone and the rice has a risotto-like consistency. The rice is really flavorful and I am normally really full by this point so I usually take it home for the next day. On this particular visit, one of the chefs recommended that I heat it up the next day and serve it with a couple of fried eggs on top. Genius!
I forgot to mention that you also get a nice face steam along with your meal. This is like the poor man's special blur feature.
Mokkoji Shabu Shabu Bar
14041 Jeffrey Road
Irvine, CA 92620