I have a new favorite little spot in Park City.
If you have never visited Shabu on Main Street, or even if it has been a little while –
I hope that this post entices you to get there as soon as possible.
The Valaika brothers, Kevin and Robert, who own and operate Shabu, attribute the combination of their restaurant-savvy skills to the success of Shabu. Kevin developed a sharp business mind after many years at high-end restaurants in Park City. Bob (Executive Chef) established a unique taste for culinary arts under the influence of notable restaurateur Charlie Trotter and acclaimed Asian-fusion chef Nobu Matsuhisa.
The food that is created at Shabu is light and flavorful — but also special. In fact, one of the best dishes I have eaten in a really long time took place at my last trip to Shabu (we will get to that later). Shabu refers to their cuisine as “freestyle Asian fusion” — just like freestyle skiing or mountain biking that is found in a mountain town, Shabu experiments with creative features to showcase a new innovation or idea.
Not only does the food and beverage at Shabu stand out as impeccable, the atmosphere is one that is unique, beautiful, and created by local artists. This three dimensional, metal art creations throughout the restaurant are entrancing. From the wall-length fierce dragon, to fish created from found metal objects, these unique creations are the work of Scott Whitaker, also known by many as Scotty Soltronic. Also, the exposed, original brick walls and cozy basement space makes for a perfect date-night, or special occasion destination.
What I really want to talk about in this post is the amazing, incredible, delectable Wagyu Beef Hot Rock platter that Shabu serves. The beautiful cuts of Japanese Waygu come out uncooked, with simply a little bit of perfectly melted butter. On the side, comes a quite large, 400 degree rock, encased in a wooden box, which you cook your Wagyu on. Simply dip one thinly sliced piece into the butter and lay on rock for a mere 10 seconds or so, flipping to both sides.
I have to tell you, I was in virtual shock at how amazing this tasted. It is so simple, but so so perfect. I can’t remember the last time I had quite the food experience like that. And, not being a HUGE red meat eater, I simply wasn’t expecting to have that kid of reaction. This dish is the definition of special. The ritual of cooking it on the rock makes it that much more wonderful. In my opinion, this beautiful Wagyu alone is the first reason you should make a trip to Shabu. This dish truly made my heart flutter.
Shabu also boasts one of the largest saké menus in the state, as well as an intricate wine list, and innovative craft cocktails. Bartender, Jeff Ferguson, who has been working at Shabu since it’s opening, is a wealth of knowledge. If you take a seat at the bar, I suggest you strike up a conversation about saké and learn a thing or two!
Bartender Jeff is really a wonderful human. He took the time to chat with us about the history of saké, how different regions in Japan produce different flavors (much like wine), and the difference between filtered and unfiltered sakés (I personally love the unfiltered sakés and the creamy, even tropical, flavors that they produce).
We tasted three sakés in the flight: Heaven’s Door (light, aromatic/perfume-y, much like a savigon blanc), Rihaku Nigori (unflitered, creamy, notes of tropic fruits), and the Horin Gekkeikan (heavy, anise, must like a chardonnay).
It was awesome to taste the difference between these varietals and get a real feel for what I liked and what paired well with different types of food. Also, it should be noted, that while flavor profiles and geography definitely impact the flavor profile of a saké, saké is made much more like beer than wine. And, one of the reasons that saké became such a staple in Japan is that saké does an amazing job of cutting acid (because it is so low in acid, unlike wine), which compliments Japanese food incredibly well.
The craft cocktails at Shabu are also pretty great. Many of them are created with saké,
which in turn, produces cocktails that also compliment the menu.
A few to note:
Ginger Snap- Sake, Fresh Ground Ginger, Vodka & a Dash of Simple Syrup (the most popular)
Alpin Glow – a whiskey craft cocktail lover’s dream (aka, my dream), whiskey, bitters, lemon
Black and Blue Lemonade – Raspberry Vodka, fresh mashed Blueberries, and lemonade. Served on the rocks.
In the end, Shabu really offers it all. Atmosphere, wonderful food, and libations to keep you satisfied — no matter what you like to wet your whistle with. Whether Shabu is in your neighborhood, or if it takes you a drive up the canyon to get there, put this place on your list and treat yourself. And please, make sure you order up that Wagyu Beef Platter!
442 Main Street, Park City
Open 7 Days a Week for Dinner: 5:30 p.m.