Monday Munchies: Hotboxing Before Hotpots

“Sha” to the “bu” at Kaizen Shabu (photo by Jefferson Matthew VanBilliard)

Throughout history there’s been people who have accomplished great things out of spite, pettiness or just plain stubbornness. Lamborghini got its start because Enzo Ferrari dissed the future automaker’s driving skills; Paris of Troy died in battle because he thought stealing the most beautiful woman in the world was a great idea; and Coke made Tab fail on purpose just to take Pepsi Clear with it to their mutual graves. For me, once I’ve set my mind to something, I know that I won’t stop until I’ve completed the task–whether it’s finishing this article or eating the largest meal possible followed by a second meal. But we’ll get to that later.

The night started out like any other night for me. After smoking my normal amount of the devil’s lettuce and changing my clothes no fewer than four times, I started to feel that familiar growl echoing around my empty stomach. There’s a “sweet spot” when smoking before heading out into the wild and that night I easily went several miles too far. THCA, the acidic precursor to the psychoactive THC we all love, may seem like the Ethel in a sea of Lucys, but when heated at the right temperature, the fine powdered crystal becomes a stoney force to be reckoned with. Using my Puffco Peak, I inhaled what I would later call the worst/best decision I had made all week.

I arrived at Kaizen Shabu feeling higher than the price of gasoline in the summer. After sitting myself down in front of a hot bowl of boiling water, I was ready to make my second worst/best decision of the week: the Carnivore Plate. For a mere $45, you can try to finish a 20-ounce plate of thinly sliced meats, fish and whatever else your heart desires. I chose a double dose of beef followed by pork belly and swai fish.

For the next hour, I subjected myself to some of the most delicious cuisine available in Orange County while a soundtrack of ’90s era R&B steadily kept the room’s ambiance at a comfortable level. There were times that I thought about quitting, but I had come too far to let myself be defeated by a few measly morsels of cold meat. When the meal seemed as if it was winning our war of stubbornness, I politely excused myself to the patio for some much needed air–and a chance to get another dose of euphoric bliss from my Pax pod.

After finishing a mammoth-sized meal like the one I’d just crushed, it’s important to get your metabolism pumping with a brisk walk. Lucky for me my favorite bar happens to be two blocks over. That’s where I made the third worst/best decision that week, but that’s a story for another time.

Kaizen Shabu, 303 N. Spurgeon St., Santa Ana, (714) 486-3464;

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