With the weather as terrible as it is right now, it's hard not to crave warm, hearty, savory meals. Luckily, I found a (relatively healthy) answer in Shabu & Mein - a hot pot and ramen spot in Kendall near the Cambridgeside Galleria.
In case you haven't noticed the trend, we write about a lot of Asian restaurants - but hey, they just happen to have the most delicious salty/savory foods! Oddly enough though, hot pot was usually last on my list over Korean BBQ, ramen, or sushi. Maybe it's just the #snowpocalypse, but after Shabu&Mein I've had to rethink my stance.
The space is larger than it first appears, with seating in the front, middle, and a back bar area for ramen and drinks. When you come in, you'll be asked if you're there for ramen or hot pot - your answer will define where you sit since only some of the tables have heated tops. (sidenote: Emily visited Shabu&Mein previously and said the ramen was just ok, so I went with the hot pot option and recommend that you do as well).
Next step - picking your broth. We went with two: a lighter miso broth, and a fuller flavored tonkatsu pork broth. This might've been playing it a little safe since there were plenty of more interesting options (ahem, goji berry?) on the menu.
You then can pick your meat preference a la carte, or go with a combo. I ordered the short rib, while my date got a mix of lamb, chicken, and beef. While I love lamb normally, I found this to be a little odd mixed with the broth flavors we had chosen. I preferred the more traditional pork or beef options. In general, ordering from the combo meals is definitely a cheaper option than ordering a la carte, since you get a basket of vegetables and your choice of carbs (udon, rice noodles, rice, etc).
We also went with an appetizer - stir-fried clams in a delightfully earthy, savory black bean sauce, that had us dipping whatever else we could find in it long after the clams were done. I also got the Char-Shu Bao, since I find bao impossible to pass up. The slightly sweet pickled vegetables and, again, the sauce, made them an excellent choice.
Back to the broth - it comes with a side of minced garlic (not uncommon) that I couldn't get enough of, and the richer tonkatsu sauce was definitely my favorite. I unabashedly souped up some of the garlicky broth after my meat and vegetables were gone.
We finished with their fried icecream dessert - an option I've only found in a few Asian places around Boston, as I'm not sure it's technically all that traditional. They had plenty of options, from green tea and red bean to coconut. We went with coconut, and I couldn't be happier.
Overall, I'd say what really makes this place wonderful is the attention to the sauces/broths/accoutrements, as well as the incredibly friendly servers that take care of you from the minute you walk in. While I was sad to hear their ramen was just OK, I'd say it's definitely worth going back for the hot pot and the welcoming atmosphere (especially when it seems like the snow just won't stop!).