First off, this was my first dining experience with Grubwithus dining group. Grubwithus is a new social dining network. The way it works is you go to their website and pick your city and see what is offered. Pick a meal that appeals to you, check out the menu and pay. The catch is that the organizer is the cheapest price after that the price goes up $1 for every person who signs up. Usually the group is between 6-12 people. You can also create your own meal. On the site there is a "create a meal" button. Follow the prompts and you can have your meal. I'm finding that you have to be general on your request. Catherine who set up this meal had requested a specific restaurant and they couldn't do that, at least not yet. So, you need to say Japanese, or Indian or Southern and they will find a restaurant in your area that meets the criteria. It gets posted to the website and whoever is interested signs up. So, it could be total strangers or a bunch of your friends that are signed up with Grubwithus. The great part is once you pay, that's it. Your meal is paid for other than drinks or any extras you order at the dinner. From the looks of it this is nationwide so if you happen to be going to another city and want to meet people or have a good meal this is a great way to do it. It's free to join and so far I think it works pretty well.
OK so last nights dinner was at Heat Shabu Baru a new "shabu shabu" restaurant. Shabu Shabu is like a Japanese fondue. Meat and vegetables are placed in a hot broth to cook.
As you can see the restaurant has a clean modern decor. It's very nice.
This evening there were eleven of us for dinner. One of the rules of Grubwithus is to get to the restaurant early since dinner is served promptly at the designated time. Our dinner was for 6:30pm and all but one couple was there on time. I think service did start pretty much on time since by time the last couple got there they were lucky that there were a few appetizers and some salad left.
Dinner is also supposed to be served family style, which tonight it was.
Though the menu is posted be prepared for a few changes in the menu. The only change we had for this meal was the salad. It was posted as an Organic Kumquat Salad but we were served a Seared Ahi Salad instead This was fine with me since I'm not a big fan of kumquats.
We started with Crab Cheese Wontons, crab, cream cheese deep fried in a wonton skin. It was your typical Crab cream cheese wonton, though this one had hardly any filling in it.
We were next served a Ramen dish of Kurobata Pork, mushrooms and topped with a fried egg. The broth was very bland. The pork I thought had good flavor, with a good broth this could have been very good..the broth is probably the most important part of Ramen.
The main course was the Shabu Shabu. Pots of broth were placed on the heat elements on the table, we had 3 pots of broth for our group one was a vegetarian broth while the other two were Miso and Spicy Tonkatsu in a divided pot. There were plates of raw vegetables, napa cabbage, enoki mushrooms, spinach leaves, tofu, noodles and a few other items.
The meat was American Kobe Beef and New Zealand Lamb. The meat is cut super thin, almost too thin but I guess it needs to be so it will cook quickly in the hot broth.
Again the broth was bland. The miso I though was the best of the two. After the vegetables and meat is cooked it is scooped out with the little scoop things. I asked for soy sauce, but it never came. They did bring some Ponzu sauce, that helped immensely with the flavor. There was also white rice served.
I do have to say there was more than enough food for all of us.
Desert was Green Tea ice cream.
Was I impressed with the meal? No unfortunately. It just lacked flavor. The service was good and there was plenty to eat and with it being mostly vegetables this was a pretty healthy meal.
I did like the idea though of having everything paid for up front. We just ate and since no one ordered drinks or anything extra that was it. It felt a little strange to just eat and leave.
I will be on the look out for other Grubwithus meals in the future.
Heat Shabu Baru
2416 18th St
Sacramento CA 95818