Monday, June 2, 2008

Sauce selection slight at Pho 32 & Shabu

Don't be fooled by the numerous little plates of condiments on the table above: the small sauce selection at Pho 32 & Shabu leaves much to be desired. At Chinese places such as Minni's or the now-closed Happy Shabu Shabu there are usually tons of choices to play with, but here there were only seven or eight: soy sauce, chili sauce, sesame sauce, fish sauce, ponzu, chopped scallions, vinegar, sesame oil, maybe one or two others. For a condiment freak like me, this is a sad state of affairs.
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I ordered the beef shabu, which came with the above plate o' veg (I wasn't that impressed with the veg selection either, which was mostly napa cabbage and bok choy with a handful of other items like fish cake, squash, mushrooms, tofu, and corn). All of our orders came with a small salad of shredded lettuce drizzled with peanut sauce that was fine if not memorable, and the choice of getting udon noodles instead of rice. You cook the udon in the broth yourself, and I found the fresh, chewy noodles quite good; I'd say having this option is the one thing Pho 32 has over the other places.
In the end Pho 32 wasn't bad, but I think the main problem here is that while other places charge around eight or nine dollars for their shabu, Pho 32 charges fifteen. That's almost double the cost for shabu that isn't much better in either quantity or quality. Still, I really like hotpot, and even though the lack of condiment options made me sad, having overpriced shabu is better than having none.

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