The Chinese influence shows in the mountain of Chinatown vegetables you can dump into your hot pot; and in addition to miso and torikatsu, soup bases include Chinese cilantro with preserved egg and spicy Sichuan. For those bored with udon, there are Thai vermicelli and spinach noodles.
The beef, rest assured, all comes from Japan, including a Wagyu that’ll run you from $38–$68 for use in shabu-shabu (submerging slices in boiling water for about five seconds yields an incredibly tender meat blob) and $88 for a panfried steak. Modest spenders can opt instead for ostrich, lamb, chicken, or pork meat, as well as a surf-and-turf combo, and there are dozens of à la carte ingredients to throw into the pot, from lobster to tong-o to a-choy to, um, live shrimp. Lunch service focuses more on rice dishes, but you’ll find the shabu-shabu a little cheaper and the sake a little more decadent.
Emperor Japanese Tapas Shabu, 96 Bowery, nr. Hester St.; 212-219-1993