My friend Trish arrived from Indiana this past weekend, and when asked what type of cuisine she’d like to try, her response was “something we don’t have in Indiana.” That being said, I thought we’d try shabu shabu, also known as Japanese hot pot, here in NYC.
Now, I only had shabu shabu (or as my friend Tori calls it, shabs) once before up in Cambridge. After sizing up several reviews on Yelp, I figured we needed to find a place that was good for beginners and relatively inexpensive, just in case people in our party didn’t like it and didn’t want to spend a ton of money. We decided on Quickly, a little joint in Chinatown.
Despite looking small on the outside, Quickly has additional seating in the basement, with hot plates built into the table. If you aren’t familiar with shabu shabu, basically you order a plate of broth, which you then cook meat, veggies and noodles in at your table. At Quickly, you could get a choice of two different meats for $12.95. I went with chicken and beef, and this meat has been frozen, and then thinly sliced with a meat slicer, so it cooks pretty quickly in the broth. You can order a miso style broth for free, but since I detest miso soup, I went with a Sichuan style broth for an additional $1.45.
Included in your order at Quickly is a drink, which were mostly different flavors of green teas. We also received a free plate of veggies per person – think spinach, cabbage, tomato, tofu, mushrooms, etc. While we waited for our order to be prepared, we headed to the condiment station, where we could make concoctions of dipping sauces. I went with a basic soy sauce and dumped some garlic and scallions in.
As our broth boiled, it became clear that service was going to be pretty poor. The server turned half of our hot plates on, but forgot about the other half of the table. Once we received our meat and veggies, I had to chase down a server to get utensils to scoop up the goodies out of the broth, because let’s face it, one set of chopsticks wasn’t going to cut it. To be honest, it made some of us a bit nervous that we had to cross-contaminate raw meat with certain utensils, because unlike my other shabu experience, we didn’t receive a separate fork for the raw meat. Instead, I was expected to use my scooper or my chopsticks.
The chicken and beef were delicious, and there was just enough spice in my Sichuan broth. The veggies were
a different story. There was some weird ones that none of us could figure out what they were – and despite being adventurous enough to try it, they didn’t taste that good. I liked though that the veggie plate included vermicelli and udon noodles that I could eat with the meat. However, I wish the server told us this before we each ordered a plate of noodles. I also wish that our server came over and checked on us more – our broth boiled down to the bottom a few times, causing major smoke at our table. If you don’t have enough broth, you can’t really eat at shabu shabu.
We finally received our teas about halfway through our meal and I have to say, the mango green tea was delicious. I didn’t go with the tapioca balls in my drink, but I tried my friend Tim’s and it was a pretty delicious addition to the drink. I’d advise getting the tapioca in your tea if you decide to go.
Overall, I had mixed feelings about Quickly. Service was terrible, but the price was good if you want to get the basics of shabu shabu without breaking the bank. While I didn’t like all the veggies, I certainly didn’t leave hungry and was full off of what I liked. If trying shabs again, I would definitely try some place else in the city. In Cambridge, I felt like I had such a good first impression of shabu shabu and wanted to eat it again soon (like the next night), but after leaving Quickly, shabu shabu didn’t seem so great anymore. If you decide to go though, don’t go too late – around 9:15, our server showed up and said we had 10 minutes left to finish.The Basics Name: Quickly Location: 237B Grand St, between Bowery and Chrystie Who to bring: Friends Price: Â $$ Under $20 with tax and tip. Overall: 2.5 Stars. Â Most likely not returning.