Is It Still Shabu Shabu Without the Noodle and Rice Courses?

I’m not sure. Since it’s only the second time I’ve had Shabu Shabu, and the other time there were noodle and rice courses, my experiences have fallen 50/50 down the middle on having them and not.

Still, whether or not Maru ShabuShabu in Nampo (on the second floor of the same building as Ashley’s, or, Old Country Buffet with Unlimited Wine) is authentic or not, it’s definitely good and plentiful. Hey, if you’re in the same building as a well-recognized buffet, you’ll need to step up your game.

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Four of us from a hiking group that had been going strong over four hours arrived sweaty and hungry on Saturday. With a couple hours to kill before the Lantern Festival festivities were to kick in, we had plenty of time to enjoy a meal. For two of us, a glass (or four) of wine sounded perfect to go with our meal. Our hiking guide who headed home following the hike, noted however that Ashley’s had been somewhat disappointing, wine and all, and that a Shabu Shabu place was in the same building.

When we arrived and got a quick look at Ashley’s setup, it appeared the food would be like an Old Country Buffet–not very good but not very bad, a place to gorge yourself in order to feel like you got your money’s worth.

We decided it was Shabu Shabu all the way. And, we weren’t disappointed.

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First of all, let’s talk about the price. For about 18,000 won each, we could get a beef option, for 20,000 won each, a seafood option. That alone seemed fine–Nampo is a busy, commercial area. I remember paying about 10,000 at the other one I went to three years ago, and it was far more of a mom-and-pop op. Maru Shabu Shabu is clearly a chain.

Which includes a chain of salad bar options. I wish I had taken photos of their spread. Instead all I’ve got is this sloppy plate of food that doesn’t make it look too appetizing.

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Barf.

Maybe the ladies, far less slobby with their plates than I, can tell a more appealing tale.

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Just the look on Anne’s face should tell you that we had a good time and a good meal. And, yes, the 20,000 we paid each included unlimited trips to the salad bar, which had everything from make-your-own bibimbap, to basic salad fixings, salmon salad, sushi, dumplings, steak tar-tar, potato stew, and, of course, kimchi.

And ice cream!
And ice cream!

But, is it authentic? I’m not sure. I don’t remember the rice wraps several of my friends mentioned as being included with their Shabu Shabu experiences. Was my last time also not authentic or have I just forgotten due to pre-mature old age? And, on Saturday, we got our generous plates of seafood and veggies to go into the bubbling broth, but no noodles or rice courses. Considering the size and options of the salad bar, did it really matter?

As long as you’re not some hyper-authentic-craving Shabu Shabu aficionado, you will definitely have a good time at Maru Shabu Shabu. Unless, of course, you really want unlimited wine, then you’ll have to go up one more flight of stairs.

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