A Rare Treat on Delancey Street: A Chef Who Cooks for You

At Shabushabu Macoron, the informal, do-it-yourself Japanese hot pot tradition becomes a refined and intimate meal.


Comments: 18

  1. All the best wishes to Ms. Okano in her drive to acquaint the New Yorkers' palates with shabu-shabu.
    A broader question comes to my mind: Ms. Okano wears a tattoo on her right arm, as many chefs and restaurant workers have their hands and arms tattooed. Can anyone enlighten me as to the origin and meaning of this custom?
    Until I am convinced to the contrary, I do not like food that has been handled by tattooed hands.

  2. Euuuuuu, heaven forfend. My wildly expensive meal was made by lowly vassals. Get over yourself.

  3. You all may be interested to know that in Japan, tattoos of any size prohibit use of most public onsen/hot springs baths. Generally associated with low-level yakuza, tattoos are deemed unsavory, and potentially threatening to customers, hardly the atmosphere expected at such peaceful venues.

  4. "Can anyone enlighten me as to the origin and meaning of this custom?"

    I don't have time to write a dissertation for you on the history of tattoos. A brief glance at Wikipedia reveals that tattooing has been around since at least Neolithic times, and the "meaning" varies by culture (obviously). If you're so anxious to be better educated about it, by all means Google it yourself.

    The woman has a very tasteful knife and fork (probably not too hard to puzzle out the meaning of that one) on the inside of her wrist, and another fairly simple design on the forearm of that same arm. I'm pretty sure she doesn't prepare the food using those parts of her arm, and even if she did, it's a tattoo, not an open wound.

    You really need to get past this. Seriously, who hurt you?

  5. As I age, I appreciate a professional preparing the food that I pay for. It’s not that I can’t cook my own shabu shabu — I have done so countless times, and have prepared it many times for guests in our home. The communal making of a meal, whether fondue or a corn-shucking and -roasting, is a special and elemental essence of human social living. But I now lean toward, for example, the Korean restaurant where a sever will grill the meats. It ensures that the food is well prepared, and gives me the time I crave to spend with my dining companions without distraction. I am excited at the thought of professionally prepared shabu shabu and will certainly give it a try!

  6. A lovely review of what appears like a perfect restaurant.
    Why did it only get 2 stars?

  7. I am very much wondering this myself and was going to post the same thing. The only negative I read was about the physical setting. Is that really enough to dock 2 stars?

  8. "- but sitting there while Ms. Okano stands a few inches away and makes your dinner is one of the most luxurious experiences this city currently offers."

    I was sure to see at least 3 stars as I scrolled towards the bottom of the article. I wonder how Mako Okano felt about the review.

  9. I've often questioned his ratings, but in this case I'm assuming it's because Wells went three times and all the meals were nearly identical, and he wondered how the chef would "keep things interesting" over the longer haul.

  10. Thank you for this exquisitely written review. I'm sitting here in Seattle reading this piece, and I can literally see, taste and smell your meal. It reminds me that I need to get back to NYC to visit, and I've found my first place to dine.

  11. This restaurant sounds special. My wife and I are going to try it.
    Thanks Pete!

  12. If one reviewed McDonald’s, one would likely compare their burgers to other decent burgers readily available elsewhere. Similarly, it makes sense that readers of this review might want to know that *amazing* hot pot restaurants exist in, say, Flushing, Queens (Spring Shabu Shabu, for instance), at which you can have the incredibly fun experience of choosing your own ingredients, mixing your own sauce, and cooking your own delicious meal for one-third of the $128 price tag of this restaurant. (And stuffing yourself with as much as you can eat, something most Americans can appreciate.) Apples and oranges? I don’t think so. It’s basic context, and would be especially useful to people who’ve never had the pleasure of enjoying hot pot. *Then* make the comparison and presumably the case why shelling out $128 is the best way to introduce yourself to this type of cooking.

  13. Jason, just because you can't afford it, there is no need to be bitter. Read the review a little more closely and you'll see that it's clear that both the ingredients and preparation far exceed what you would get at a do-it-yourself shabu shabu place. But heck, you stick with Spring and leave the sophisticated restaurants to those of us who actually know great food.

  14. Jason, you're spot on. Remember the message of Anthony Bourdain, that what matters is not the price but the experience. Your experience trumps pseudo-sophistication.

  15. I hate the idea that Asian foods should just be cheap and high volume. There is fine dining in Asian you know! There's a time and place for cheap hot pot and a different time and place for fancy expensive hot pot. In Japan, certainly both types of shabu shabu exist. One is not inferior or superior to the other. They are simply different things for different occasions. I've been to many $20 AYCE hot pot with a big variety of so-so ingredients. It's delicious. I've also been to hot pot in a 5 star hotel in Asia in a private room with a set menu of premium ingredients. It's delicious too. There's a spectrum of different and tasty dining opportunities for a spectrum of wallets. Certainly $128 pp for NYTimes restaurant review is actually one of the lower cost meals. This place will be on my list to try on my next NYC trip.

  16. Excellent review!

    We managed to get in and it's everything and more Mr. Wells has written!

    Ms. Okano has crafted a unique experience in NYC.

  17. The night we visited, Mako was doing it solo. Yet everything was done with complete attention to detail. The timing with every dish, the amount of sauce or seasoning. It was perfection. You must try this place.
    BTW nice selection of sake too!

  18. I had the pleasure of dining here last night. Pete undersold it. I don't understand why it only got two stars. Perhaps one of the ten best meals of my life. Most incredibly, Ms. Okano was hostess, cook, waitress, sommelier, and busser. She had no staff, and any assistants she might have had were in the back, unseen. It was just three of us at the counter, plus her, one of the most amazing dining experiences of my life.