It's Shabu-Shabu Season

A rare winter treat at Buena Vista's Shokudo

Shabu-shabu, or Japanese hot pot, is about as rare as snow flurries in Miami. But even if there's no blizzard forecasted for the next few months, these cooler times are ideal for dipping meat and vegetables into a boiling pot of water and kombu, fondue-style.

So we were happy to notice that shabu-shabu ($35 per person) had quietly creeped onto the menu at Buena Vista's Shokudo.

Once we settled into our bistro-style table, we were served a crunchy green salad with yuzu vinaigrette. Owner Yoko Takarada then placed a propane burner and handsome clay pot on the table, along with trays of raw beef rib eye, brightly colored vegetables and tofu cubes.

Shabu-shabu mise-en-place (Photo: Paula Echevarria)

We love shabu-shabu's near-immediate gratification: A 30-second bath in the bubbling liquid was all it took to cook the paper-thin meat. The flavors were simple and straightforward–the meat was not marinated or salted before cooking.

We dipped cooked beef, honey-sweet tofu, bok choy, daikon and mushrooms in the bonito-tinged ponzu sauce, and then bundled these on our chopsticks with rice and assertive kimchi. The experience was comforting, but we didn't feel weighed down by it later.

Shabu-shabu condiments: scallions, kimchi and shaved daikon (Photo: Paula Echevarria)

Takarada, whose parents once owned World Resource Café and Toni's Sushi Bar, travels often to get inspiration for Shokudo's pan-Asian menu, which changes seasonally.

So you'd better take advantage before the shabu-shabu slips away.