Saturday, April 2, 2011

Porin Shabu Shabu

Let's be honest: despite all the wonderful vegetables present in Korean cuisine, the salad bars here generally leave more than a little to be desired. Either they're ridiculously expensive (lookin' at you, VIPS and NOVOTEL), or they're filled with pretzels, taste-free iceberg lettuce, and out-of-season produce that doesn't even deserve the name (take that, Pizza Hut.) Is there nowhere we can go to find heaps and heaps fresh, local vegetable abundance?

Despair not! Behold, Porin Shabu Shabu in Chilgok.

Ok, so it's not exactly a salad bar. No raisins, shredded cheese, croutons, or thousand-island dressing here. Rather, it's a Shabu Shabu (AKA Chinese hot-pot) buffet. An analogy for the uninitiated: cooked directly in front of you in fine Korean DIY fashion, Shabu Shabu is to Chicken-noodle soup as Samgyeopsal is to microwavable bacon. The poster below explains how it's done:

Step 1) Heat up the broths; one spicy, one mild.

Step 2) Head to the bar and pick up a few plates of veggies and friends. Choose from about ten different kinds of leafy greens, chives, green onions, sliced potato and sweet pumpkin, tofu, bean sprouts, tiny ddeok dumplings, a few varieties of mushrooms, and more.*

If all the choices leave you at a loss, and if you've got a translator, read the explanations of each vegetable and its nutritional benefits. This "jeok-gyeo-ja" is apparently full of vitamins A and C and is reputedly good for your eyes, ears, and "stability of heart.":

Bring the treasure back to your seat, dunk, and enjoy. Dip in either Thai-style hot chili sauce or soy sauce with wasabi.

Step 3) **OPTIONAL** Add either seafood, imported beef, or Korean Han-u.

Step 4) Enjoy a clump or two of nice, thick noodles.

The sign doesn't mention Step 5: Go back for seconds.

If you were a rabbit in your past life, if you're into vegetables piled high, or if you're even the slightest bit tired of standard doenjang and gochujang-based banchan, Porin will be a welcome change of pace. Graze on more kinds of greens than you knew existed, then fill up on delicious pumpkins and thick, chewy noodles. Choose either plum or cinnamon tea for desert, and then enjoy a cartoony game of kawi-bawi-bo with the owner. Win and you get a coupon for your next trip^^

The details:
Name: Porin Shabu Shabu
Location: Chilgok, within about 5 minutes walking distance of HomePlus.
Veg*an-friendly?: The broths are made with some amount of animal products; customers are expected to order meat or seafood with the meal, and the staff are confused if you refuse, but eventually they'll concede.
Price: dinners from W9,000, weekday lunches from W6,500.
Address: 대구 광역시 북구 동천동 904-4번지
Contact: 323-6661

UPDATE: There's a second location (which was actually the first location) at 대구광역시 수성구 수성3가 5번지, on the green line right between Daegu Bank Station and Beomeo Station.

*Up until a few months ago, Porin's Shabu bar contained a good deal of organic produce. Nowadays, due to increased prices, they've had to return to standard stuff. Keep supporting them and maybe they'll be able to switch back!


  1. I hunted and hunted for this place (I live in Chilgok and work about a block from said location), but I couldn't seem to find it! Potentially closed?

  2. I would just like to day that a chicken broth is NOT vegetarian or vegan friendly. most of your reviews of "vegetarian/vegan" restaurants all have some sort ofmeat or fish in it. Please look up the definition of vegetarian/vegan again.