ATXReview

photo credit: Mackenzie Smith Kelley

DipDipDip Tatsu-Ya review image
8.4

DipDipDip Tatsu-Ya

Calling DipDipDip Tatsu-Ya a hot pot restaurant is like calling Medieval Times a chicken spot. Sure, there’s hot pot to be had at this North Austin place from the Ramen Tatsu-Ya team—and it’s the best (and some of the only) shabu shabu in the whole city. But if you’re looking for an affordable, casual hot pot affair, turn around now. DipDipDip is a pricey and uniquely immersive experience involving ingredient combinations only Austin could conjure up.

Mackenzie Smith Kelley

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The dining room here feels a bit like being below deck on a really nice pirate ship. It’s dressed from floor to ceiling with intricate woodwork—all that’s missing are a few nautical elements and an eye patch. Tables are long and shared, with a little wooden divider placed between parties that also acts as a shelf for your food. While there’s a small sense of privacy, don’t be surprised to hear the party next to you talking about their dream jobs, when they moved to Austin, or their puppies, between dips of sliced meat. Because while you could come here with a couple of friends or a coworker, this is definitely a date night destination, complete with warm lighting, close quarters, and enough steam rising off the pots to remove any wrinkles in your shirt.

At DipDipDip, everybody gets an individual bowl placed on an induction burner, along with a small sand hourglass for timing your food that makes every bite feel a little bit like a race against time. And unlike more traditional shabu shabu spots that start with nothing but water, the bases here are all flavored—choose from one of four options (including Ramen Tatsu-Ya’s popular tonkotsu broth), then decide if you want to order a la carte or one of the chef’s choice menus. There’s a standard omakase for $95 and a “Baller Omakase” that adds in a few premium items, like oysters and A5 wagyu, for an extra $30. You can definitely piece together a great meal on your own, but if you’re not really sure where to start, one of the omakases is the best way to go. 

Mackenzie Smith Kelley

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Then there’s the most exciting part—a giant wooden cart that gets rolled up to your table midway through dinner with the daily specials. Make sure to save some room for these, because this is where we’ve had some of our favorite bites from DipDipDip, like duck breast served under an edible duck fat candle that slowly melts into a shallow pool of rendered duck fat, coating every bite.

Whether you’re ordering omakase or a la carte, the setup includes two dipping sauces. But you’d be doing yourself a disservice to not consider at least one of the additional dips offered—it’s not called DipDip Tatsu-Ya, after all. The truffle sukiyaki is served with a runny egg yolk and black truffle that adds some thick texture and a savory punch to some already savory bites. And the “Keep Austin Dipping” is essentially your own personal bowl of queso (with shiso) that rests in the broth, because Austin has a codependent relationship with melted cheese.

Mackenzie Smith Kelley

DipDipDip Tatsu-Ya review image

If you’re simply looking for a more traditional hot pot experience, you’re probably better off venturing to one of Austin’s scarce other options, or purchasing your own home setup and DIY-ing the whole thing, though we can’t guarantee your tableside-carved meatballs will look quite as cool. DipDipDip Tatsu-Ya is expensive—expect to spend at least $100 per person, more if you’re ordering sake. But if you want an intimate night out with premium ingredients and unique flavors that you can’t find anywhere else in the city, then get ready to throw down, because DipDipDip Tatsu-Ya should be in your near future.

Food Rundown

Shabu Shabu Onzen

This is the main setup. It’s included in both of the omakase prices, or $15 if you’re going a la carte (think of it like a base price). This includes your own personal hot pot (with a choice of four bases) plus two standard dips, a bowl of rice, and a little box of starter veggies that are shared across your party. It’s a nice, light way to start your meal and get a feel for the pot and cooking times while you wait for the main pieces to arrive.

A La Carte

So you decided to choose your own adventure. The “shabu slices” portion of the menu is pretty straightforward—it’s divided into beef, pork, seafood, and vegetable sections, and priced by the cut, with premium pieces commanding premium prices. And if those seem intimidating, ask yourself, how often do you get to indulge in some melt-in-your-mouth A5 wagyu, complete with a certificate telling you the cow’s owner, breed, and favorite color? OK, only two of those are true. The rest of the menu includes inventive riffs on classic Japanese dishes, like blue crab and lemon butter gyoza or stuffed raclette and shiitake tofu skins.

Mackenzie Smith Kelley

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Tatsu-Ya Omakase

This is our favorite route, offering enough of the menu to try a range of items, but still leaving you with (just barely) enough stomach real estate to sample some items off the cart. Think of it like a greatest hits list for $95.

Mackenzie Smith Kelley

DipDipDip Tatsu-Ya review image

Baller Omakase

For an extra $30, the Baller Omakase gets you most of the same items as the standard omakase, plus an oyster, a few strips of A5 wagyu, and some of the more standard cuts subbed out for premium ones. That means prime boneless short rib in place of eye round steak, or pork belly in place of pork loin. If you like decadence, this is the route to go, but you’ll be in for a good experience either way.

Mackenzie Smith Kelley

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Sake Pairing

There are two sake pairings available—one that accompanies the standard omakase, and another for the baller omakase, the latter coming in at a higher price point. But if you don’t want to commit to a full sake pairing—or if you’re ordering a la carte—your server can definitely help you put together a mini pairing based on your likes, your order, or your astrological sign (probably).

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