Friday, 23 May 2008

nagi

Level 2, Namba Oriental Hotel
Namba, Osaka

'shabu shabu' is the sound they say that vegetables and meat make when you swish them around in the boiling broth that makes this Japanese 'steamboat' meal.

Namba central is a huge and overwhelming place full of amazing places to eat, from street food to high end kasakei (traditional formal degustation) and everything in between. Like Okonomiyaki, Takoyaki and Tempura, Shabu Shabu is an absolute 'must-try' when you are in Japan.

Nagi is a swish though understated looking restaurant in the Namba Oriental Hotel complex and specialises in Shabu Shabu.

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Surprisingly for a hotel restaurant the staff do not speak a great deal of English, nor is there an English menu. However the staff do their best to explain the menu and of course, the service is impeccable and the amuse bouche to start with - eggplant with wasabi mayonaise and goji berry garnish gets the meal off to a delicious start.

Tables are traditional Japanese style, so you remove your shoes and slip on some very chic clogs and attempt to clamber into the sunken table without too much embarrassment.

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Shabu Shabu usually involves either beef, pork or fish, however you'd be hard pressed to go past the highly marbled Wagyu beef on offer, differing in price depending on the cut of the beast you choose. This is accompanied by deliciously fresh vegetable produce and two dipping sauces; soy and sesame.

The beef was thinly sliced and hardly needs cooking at all - is melting texture when dipped into either soy or sesame based sauces is incredible. We accompany the meat with a selection of blanched vegetables straight from the hot pot on your table.

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Leave room for noodles - they arrive at the end of the meal when the broth has taken in the flavours of the beef and vegetables. This is mixed with light soy by our waitress and then served with handmade noodles.

After dinner, wander down to street level and buy a crepe to sweeten the end to your meal...desserts have a separate devoted stomach, afterall.

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