There are exactly three restaurants dedicated to shabu shabu in Irvine: House of Shabu Shabu at the 99 Ranch plaza on Jeffrey, Ayame Hot Pot on Portola Parkway, and SWSH at Diamond Jamboree, which was the last entrant in a city that previously only had one a few years ago.
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Just outside of the city limits there's California Shabu Shabu in Costa Mesa and the popular Shabu Shabu Bar in Santa Ana. All opened within the past five years, a period which I classify as a shabu shabu boom. The planned Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot that will open soon in Irvine is part of this trend even though it isn't technically shabu shabu.
So with all these options, is there really enough business to go around for another restaurant that would serve essentially a pot of hot water and thinly sliced meats as meals?
OOii Shabu Shabu hopes so. The newest shabu shabu planned for the city will occupy the space where a Daphne's once stood in the Kohl's-anchored complex on Jeffrey near the 5. Will it triumph and prove that there's still room for one more? If the rest of the year is as cold as it has been this week, then yes, probably. But winter doesn't last forever. Some day soon we'll reach a shabu shabu critical mass.