Balai Isabel

“No Filipinos allowed for shabu-shabu”

Tonight we went out for a sayonara dinner at our favorite shabu-shabu place with one of the families from Manila leaving Tokyo to return home tomorrow. They’d been here for over 10 days and we’d had lots of fun together, so we were sorry to see them go.
However, tomorrow, Manila batch #3 arrives in Tokyo for a week and everything starts all over again — so you might say that we have our hands pretty full.
Anyway, for a proper send-off, we decided on everyone’s favorite meal: eat-all-you-can Omi beef shabu-shabu. This particular restaurant we went to tonight is a regular hangout of people from Manila as we send everyone we know who asks us where they can get good shabu-shabu that’s not prohibitively expensive, here. There are lots of places in Tokyo to get prohibitively expensive and good shabu-shabu, but not too many offer good shabu-shabu at a relatively decent price.
The other reason why this restaurant is so popular among the Manila crowd is because it’s an all-you-can-eat restaurant so the meat just keeps coming and the quality is steady. We’re all familiar with the kind of eat-all-you-can restaurants where the first two plates are good, but the succeeding ones are just terrible.
But here, you decide at the outset on the level of meat quality you are willing to pay for, and they maintain the refills at this level until you actually say stop.
But you know how Filipinos are. One plate of meat will never be enough and we like to eat and talk for a very long time; so an eat-all-you-can good quality shabu-shabu is perfect, especially if you go for the pricier meat.

So now the details of this Tokyo shabu-shabu restaurant have been passed around so many times in Manila that it’s now a regular pit stop for almost everyone I know. And I stress “almost” here as I know one person who definitely won’t find this his cup of tea.
Everyone else seems to enjoy it, though, and to enjoy breaking records for the most number of plates of meat even more. We all keep count and compare notes, and so far the record goes to a couple who actually finished nine plates of meat each.

I can do just over two plates at best so the idea of nine plates is truly shocking to me. But it’s lots of fun and I like to joke each time that the restaurant will soon hang a sign outside saying “No Filipinos allowed for the eat-all-you-can shabu-shabu,” and that they’ll require to see passports before they serve meat. If any more Filipinos eat here and break records, you see, they’ll either have to raise their prices or go out of business.
Tonight, though, I failed to count the plates as we were talking about Philippine politics. But someone said she didn’t think we’d had as much meat as in their previous visits to Japan. She said: “We must be losing our touch. Better try harder next time.”
Just another evening in our never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife. Good night from Tokyo.

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