Sun-Thu, 11am-11pm, Fri-Sat, 11am-midnight
B, D at Grand St.
$8.95 - $16.95
American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
Worth St. to Prince St., Allen St. to Centre St.
Like its name, Chinatown’s Emperor Japanese Tapas Shabu’s cuisine is more an assemblage of disparate cooking styles than a logical fusion. The menu offers some Japanese classics (wagyu beef, bento lunch specials), some Chinese dishes (cilantro with preserved egg shabu shabu), and a few regrettable inclusions (French fries?). Fried potatoes are one of the closest thing to tapas here, however, as most portions are quite large. Décor-wise, Emperor is more suitable for a dinner date than other feeding stations in the neighborhood: it’s spacious, with sleek red and exposed brick walls, and only a few paper dragons hanging from the stairway. To share, a large stock pot of shabu shabu lets diners cook thin slices of meat and vegetables at the table, but greasy broths and watery dipping sauces mask fresh ingredients; prime rib eye loses its succulence after a bath in over-seasoned Szechuan peppercorn broth and swish in bland sesame goma. Worth ordering just for novelty’s sake is the fish paste, which comes served in a tube and forms springy, gummy noodles when squirted into boiling broth. Another odd success: foie gras in red wine sauce, perfectly seared with a classic, buttery interior, and only moderately impaired by garnishes of sad litchi and mandarin orange slices.Lunch Special
Daily, 11 a.m.–4 p.m., bento boxes are $6.75, additional discounts on shabu shabu items.Recommended Dishes
Foie gras sauté, $16.95