Hanasuki executive chef Takashi Yamamoto tells Broadsheet that shabu-shabu (Japanese hotpot) is a favourite winter pastime for Japanese people, not unlike a barbeque on the beach for Australians during summer. Hanasuki is the first restaurant in Sydney devoted to it.
Many styles of hotpot around east Asia are served with all the ingredients already in the pot, but at Hanasuki, the broth comes straight up, bubbling away on induction cooktops set into the tables.
There are no rules for the order in which ingredients should be cooked, but Yamamoto encourages starting with mushrooms to impart more umami to the broth; made here with kelp, bonito flakes, shiitake, mackerel and sardine.
Then comes protein, including different cuts of A5 Wagyu, imported from Kagoshima and Fukuoka in Japan. Swish them in the broth for around five seconds (for medium-rare). Then add fresh veg – including mushroom varieties, Chinese cabbage, garland chrysanthemum, shallots, watermelon radish and red radish, some of which come directly from the restaurant’s own farm.
Dipping sauces (ponzu and sesame) and condiments like grated daikon radish, yuzu kosho, chilli and wasabi are also available to enhance the flavour.
What makes Japanese hotpot extra special is the zosui (or Japanese congee) that follows, using the leftover shabu-shabu broth. The staff will go as far as measuring the broth’s saltiness using a special saltometer, adding salt and broth accordingly for the perfect zosui. Choose traditional zosui,where the egg is visible, or modern zosui, where the egg is mixed in for a creamier finish. Enjoy this with house-made pickles and salted konbu.
Allow up to two hours for the meal, and “don’t rush”. Instead, enjoy the company of fellow guests, the omotenashi (Japanese hospitality) and the fresh ingredients cooked and eaten at your own pace.
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