*Restaurant is now closed*
You'd think that having Japanese AYCE so many times lately would make me sick. Well, if you know me, there are very few things that make me sick - well, maybe raw onions... Anyways, this is the first time I've been back to Shabusen since it had that infamous fire last June. Shabusen is a bit different from all the other Japanese AYCE joints, it includes Korean BBQ. For Korean BBQ enthusiasts, Shabusen might be lacking authenticity and choice. Moreover, for those who are well-versed in Japanese food, they might cringe at the Japanese food served here. But, as I have said before about AYCE Japanese restaurants, you cannot expect too much. You must go in with reasonable expectations, otherwise you'll be bitterly disappointed. But, if you really want quality Korean or Japanese food, and you cannot accept any less, then I suggest you stay away from these places. Now if you can stomach these types of restaurants, then please read on...
The prices at Shabusen have slowly crept up from 5 years ago, it's roughly $3 more now. AYCE lunch is $13 and dinner is $23. I personally think that the prices are reasonable for what you get. The overall decor and atmosphere of both Shabusen locations are inviting and comfortable. Only problem is leg room is at a premium since the grills are built into the tables. The service is a bit inconsistent. In fact, the service can be quite indifferent and slow. It really depends on your luck and I guess if you have to rely on luck for good service, then just like a casino you'll probably lose more than you win. The selection of food items is quite extensive for dinner and the lunch menu is better than most other AYCE places. Lunch even includes sashimi, albeit there is a limit of 8 pieces per person (that's still plenty).
We ordered a variety of items starting with Salmon and Tuna Sashimi. The fish was fresh and the slices were very big (Nordel Sushi, please take note!). It's nice to see that even though there was a limit, they didn't skimp on the size. The Gyozas were fried up nicely and were not overstuffed, having just enough filling. The Beef Teryiaki was alright, similar to most places, the meat was a bit chewy and it was pretty much unmemorable. The Chicken Teriyaki was alright as well, it was not overcooked and there wasn't too much sauce on it either. The Tonkatsu was a bit thin and overfried. The Tonkatsu at Ninkazu was better, as was the Chicken Karaage. The karaage at Shabusen was not very good. It's fried perfectly, but the skin isn't all that crunchy and the chicken is completely flavourless. It didn't look all that appetizing either, they probably used too much flour or starch.
The Nigiri Sushi was pretty standard, but it's good to see that the fish completely covers the rice (take note Nordel Sushi!). The roll sushi was actually not that bad. There was plenty of filling and they didn't overdo it with the rice either. Now, I left the Korean BBQ for the end because this is maybe a contentious issue for some people. Let me get this out first - it is NOT authentic Korean BBQ. That doesn't bother me personally; however I can understand why it would be an issue for others. I love authentic Korean BBQ and there are plenty of places in the GVRD that serve it. The Korean BBQ at Shabusen suffers from several issues - no small appetizer dishes, lack of meat selection, bland/unauthentic marinade and no service button at your table (just kidding...). But if you were looking for authentic Korean BBQ, you should look elsewhere. For me, Shabusen offers good value, taking into account the price and the overall selection of food. I will admit that Shabusen doesn't satisfy my Korean BBQ cravings; but I can put up with the occasional visit once in awhile.
- Good selection for dinner and lunch
- Comfortable surroundings
- Korean BBQ included
- Service needs some work
- Food is a bit average
- Korean BBQ is not authentic and limited
Shabusen Yakiniku House
2993 Granville Street
11:00am - 2:30pm, 5:00pm - 10:30pm (7 days a week)