photo credit: Teddy Wolff
The next time you’re standing in a group of people, try telling them that you heard there’s a place in Bushwick where you can pay to do karaoke inside a couple’s house. Regardless of whether this is a real thing or not (it actually is, though), we can predict it will quickly feel like you own a people magnet. The intrigued group will demand to know who/what/where/how and “really”? This is not because people are seeking out new opportunities to do karaoke or to go to strangers’ homes. It’s because truly unique experiences in New York City are exceedingly rare. So when you hear about an interesting one, you’ll want to listen up. Which means you should be listening closely right now.
Shabushabu Macoron is unique in almost every sense, starting with the fact that it’s the only shabushabu omakase restaurant in the world. While other Japanese shabushabu places have diners cook slices of meat and vegetables in a hotpot themselves, at Shabushabu Macoron, one chef prepares a $128 multi-course meal for the eight people in each seating, featuring everything from uni broth to super high-end wagyu beef, while Adele plays on repeat over the speakers. It is unique, yes, and it’s also extremely fun and delicious.
Once you’ve gotten settled and overheard the guy next to you saying he’s been here six times in six weeks, you’ll start with a few small dishes, like a cup of hot sake paired with sea urchin, omelette with scallop, sea urchin with tofu skin, and homemade cold tofu. You’ll get your first taste of the chef (one woman named Mako) cooking shabushabu for you, with pieces of abalone cooked in a sea urchin broth. This might be a good time to mention that you should probably have at least a mild appreciation for sea urchin if you’re thinking about coming here.
From there, you’ll move onto the main event: the shabushabu hotpot segment of the meal. At this point, a spread of beef, pork, and vegetables will be presented in front of you, along with a big pot of boiling water and a range of sauces. There’s ponzu, soy sauce, spinach sauce, olive oil and onion sauce, tomato sauce, and gravy. Meanwhile, the third Ed Sheeran song of the night is playing, and somehow, that completely works.
Super thin, super marbled slices of beef and pork will now be whished through the water for you with extreme precision, and for the first few rounds, suggested sauce pairings will also be offered. You’re welcome to freestyle at any point, but things start to happen so quickly at this point - here’s one type of wagyu with ponzu, and another type with olive oil and onion, and oh wait, now there’s an incredible mushroom - that you’ll be happy to take orders just to keep up. While you’re finishing that pork with sesame sauce, there’s a steaming hot mochi-based spinach dumpling that just showed up in front of you. Wait, how is one chef managing to also cook for seven other people? How is it possible for things to happen so quickly but also feel extremely calm? How is this food so good?
And then things will slow down a bit. A hot bowl of soba - cooked with the shabushabu broth - is up next, which makes sense considering that this place is owned by the same people behind the cash-only soba shop Cocoron, a place I like so much that when I bring people there for the first time it feels like introducing them to a significant other.
And finally, you’ll have ice cream for dessert, while some other 2015 pop hit plays, and you’ll probably have some more questions. Maybe you’ll ponder why abalone isn’t more popular, or maybe you’ll wonder how much a shabushabu pot costs on Amazon. But mostly, you’ll ask why so many restaurants are the same, and why it’s so hard to find one that’s actually unique. A meal at Shabushabu Macoron is expensive, but one thing you won’t question is whether the experience was worth it.
One last question: should we all go to that karaoke place?
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You’ll start out with this scallop-filled omelette and immediately realize more omelettes should involve scallops and small flowers.
This abalone gets cooked quickly in a little pot of uni broth and tastes way better than it may look here.
Yuba Shabu With Uni
The yuba is skimmed right off the top of some boiling soymilk, and then paired with uni and wasabi. Aside from peanut butter out a jar, this is one of the better spoonfuls of food you’ll eat.
The first guy to enter the boiling shabushabu pot is this some homemade tofu, with gets topped with avocado oil.
You’ll get two types of beef here: A5 Miyazaki and A5 Kagoshima. If you already know the difference, congratulations to you. If not, know these are the two highest grades of wagyu beef, and that they’ll be cooked quickly and precisely and then given to you to try with a bunch of different sauces.
This goes in looking like prosciutto and comes out tasting like something even better. The sesame sauce is a highlight, too.