Swish Shabu

A pot of boiling, steamy broth waiting to be flavored with various meats, vegetables, seafood and so many other things… that is the type of comfort food no tomato soup and grilled cheese could ever replace. Accompanied with a bowl of rice or noodles, you can taste your uniquely flavored soup at the final stage of the meal with a feeling of accomplishment; you made that broth, top chef!

If you are a “hot pot” or “shabu” first timer, here’s a quick run down of what you’re missing out on. This style of cooking comes from either Mongolia or China (still unknown) where you have a pot of simmering water or stock and an assortment of raw vegetables, meats and seafood. You cook them by dipping the foods in the hot water or broth and dab on some soy dipping sauce and other yummy condiments after; minced garlic, chilies, soybean paste, green scallions, and more. Life is all about enjoying simple pleasures, and there is nothing easier than dipping raw food in hot broth. Really!

I went to Swish Shabu in Fenway for lunch with some lovely Yelpers: Nicole V. and Alex B. (They have some great recommendations if you’re looking for good eats) As always, they picked a fantastic place for lunch. Although I usually go to the buffets because it’s $20 per person, all-you-can-eat, the quality is mediocre and the quantity is the only thing it has going for it. Over time, I learned with the right amount of people and a couple orders of high quality ingredients, you pay the same price or less compared to a buffet.

Vegetarian Combo - $12.50

Seafood Combo - $10.95

Meyers Organic Prime Rib Eye Combo - $20

Ostrich Combo - $15.95

Beef Tongue - $6

Vibrant and fresh greens, beautifully marbled red meat, and you know- other stuff, like ostrich meat and cow tongue. Can you do me a favor before you start to feel squeamish and freaked out though? Give it a shot. The cow tongue was one of my favorite plates and you won’t even think about feeling taste buds against yours at all. I’m sure that didn’t help, but that was for my personal amusement. Anyways, all the dishes were not portioned to fill you quickly, but sized in a great way that allows you to enjoy a variety of foods. For us, we were very happy with every dish and the massive amount of vegetables accompanying them. As for the ostrich meat, it was delightfully game-y and incredibly lean. It’s always fun to try something new.

When I looked at each dish’s price, I was ready to spend some money- $20 for a beef plate? Eek! But no, not that bad at all. Somehow, our table of four was very content and completely satisfied, all with a $66 bill. Not too shabby!

On top of the great food and surprisingly great price, our waitress was wonderful. She always had a smile on her face, filled our waters when they were half way through, and asked if we were enjoying our meal without being overbearing. It seems like the staff at Swish Shabu are all sweet, friendly, and accommodating while being efficient. Perfect.

All in all, I really enjoyed having hot pot here. Thanks to Nicole V. and Alex B., I now have another restaurant that I can happily recommend to others!

I double dare you to try beef tongue at Swish Shabu.
Total Meal: $66
Servings: 4 people
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When you are daydreaming of a wonderfully lavish trip to Paris, it may feel painfully intangible at times. When I dream of Paris, never do I think about the romanticism lingering in the air, the beautifully cut throat high fashion, or people with berets calmly smoking cigarettes with a mysterious gaze. No way man! I dream of piping hot, garlicky and tender escargot, various foods fried in pure duck fat, extravagant foie gras terrines and simply complex pairings of wine and cheese. Oh gosh… Paris! Est-ce que vous connaissez un bon restaurant par ici? English translation: Do you know a good restaurant around here?

There’s something special about Marliave. You feel like you’ve been transported to a chic and casual bistro in France where dining without a glass of wine between your fingertips almost feels uncomfortable. Tastefully simple, dimly lit lights heighten the ambiance for romantic dinners and gatherings of close friends. As for the food… Well, let me tell you about the food.

Everyday, from 4-6pm and 9-11pm, Marliave has a variety of $1 oysters and Little Neck Clams. Oysters usually include Wellfleet, Peter’s Point, Duxbury and Rocky Nook. How can you beat that? Restaurants that serve $1 oysters once a week usually serve you the ones that are about to rot. Trust me, you can taste the difference. This is the perfect after-work spot to relax and slurp on some perfectly briny bites. Squeeze a little lemon juice to bring that baby alive, plop a small dollop of zesty cocktail sauce and then drizzle a little mignonette on it. Yum!

Macaroni & Cheese - $14

Instead of ordering entrees, my table split three appetizers. One of these appetizers is my absolute favorite macaroni and cheese. No fancy descriptions are necessary, I’ll just share the main ingredients: house cut ziti, black truffle cream and farmhouse cheeses. If you had each of those ingredients alone, they would already be good! Firstly, I don’t know how they make the pasta but the texture is unlike any other typical pastas you’ve had. It is very chewy, but starchy and soft at the same time. It is almost like gnocchi made al dente- except it comes with a decadent truffle cheese sauce and tells you to never stop eating it. This is a must-try at Marliave. I’ve never had anything like it!

Beef Carpaccio - $12

Looking at these pictures make me reminisce while salivating over the beef carpaccio. It was good. Damn good. It was prepared with thinly sliced ribeye, topped with peppery arugula, nutty Reggiano cheese, garlicky aioli, sea salt and fruity and flavorful extra olive oil. Here’s the thing… maybe you’ve had steak carpaccios before and they all have same, exact ingredients, but a good quality carpaccio goes a long way. At Marliave, you won’t have to feel unsure about ordering this dish or not. If you aren’t afraid to eat raw meat, this is something I highly recommend.

Duck Confit - $15

Last was the duck confit; “crispy leg, coarsely ground duck sausage, broccoli rabe, cassoulet of white beans.” It was warm, hearty, savory and delicious. The duck meat was cooked to juicy and succulent perfection, and the skin gave it a nice crispy crunch. It was a wonderful dish due to the lovely variety of textures and flavorful components in this hot cast iron dish.

Of course, these are only a handful of great dishes you can order at this cozy establishment. I recommend the Beef Wellington and escargot. I’ve also seen many patrons order the risotto- wild mushroom, Reggiano and truffle butter, and Henry’s Soup- french onion, Gruyere, short ribs and crouton. (Hint: Boston Restaurant week is here and the Beef Wellington is usually $32, so now’s a good time to go!) Cheeses and charcuterie are a good option as well. The Fish-n-Chips has been the only dish I felt indifferent about. I’m not sure if it was only that one time, but the fried batter and french fries were a bit soggy and oily. Even though there’s one single dish I didn’t thoroughly love here, it never alters my wonderful impression of Marliave.

You always ease the pain of my intangible trip to France, Marliave
Total Meal: $65
Servings: 2 people

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