Shabu Shabu vs Hot Pot – What is the Difference?

Shabu Shabu vs Hot Pot: Shabu-shabu is one of the famous Japanese cuisines that spread worldwide due to its savory taste. On the other hand, hot pot is a Chinese-originated dish with 100 years of history.


  • A Japanese dish where thin-sliced ingredients are cooked instantly, often enjoyed in a group setting.
  • Invented in 1947 by Dr. Yoshida Shoya and later popularized as a winter treat.
  • Shabu-Shabu Involves communal cooking with a pot of boiling water on the table.
  • Hot Pot concept popular in China with a long history, involving communal cooking in boiling broth.
  • Shabu-shabu and hot pot vary in cooking methods, broths, serving styles, and ingredients.
Shabu Shabu vs Hot Pot

Although both of these delicacies look the same at first and contain almost similar ingredients, they are distinct in their way of cooking and serving. In this article, we will cover the Shabu-shabu vs hot pot difference, with all its history, feature, and cooking method.

What is Shabu-Shabu?

I worked closely with Japanese cuisine a few years ago and got hooked. Moreover, this dish is cooked by a few. In many national cuisines, there are options for instant cooking on the fire. The Chinese analog of shabu-shabu is a hogo pot; the Swiss one is fondue.

Image: Canva

In Japanese culture, there is a dish similar to shabu-shabu called sukiyaki – with beef or pork, tofu, shiitake mushrooms, and udon. The essence of all these dishes is the process of their preparation, and the process of eating them is practically inseparable. Due to the thin cutting of ingredients, food is cooked instantly: ten seconds, and go!

History of Shabu-Shabu

In 1947, a member of the folk art movement Dr. Yoshida Shoya from Tottori Prefecture invented a unique method of cooking meat, which became the basis for the emergence of modern shabu-shabu.

The new taste was liked not only by the participants in the movement but also by ordinary Japanese. It served as a rapid spread of this technology throughout the country.

History of Shabu-Shabu
Yoshida Shōya (1898-1972), Folk crafts of Tottori prefecture

The name “shabu-shabu” first appeared in the restaurant “Suehiro,” which opened in Osaka in 1952. In 1955, the restaurant registered “meat shabu-shabu” as its trademark. Later, the head of the Suehiro restaurant admitted that the creation of shabu-shabu was an emergency measure to stimulate sales of meat dishes in the summer. But, today, shabu-shabu is primarily a winter treat.

Some people also believe that shabu-shabu may be derived from the Chinese lamb dish Shuan yang Rou, as its recipe is closer to the original Chinese than other nabemono dishes such as oden or sukiyaki.

Shabu-Shabu Feature

Shabu-shabu is a companion dish. Of course, you can eat it alone, but in Japan, shabu-shabu has developed an image of a dish for a large group: a family or a group of friends.

A capacious pot of boiling water is placed on the table, vegetables are poured into it, and each participant takes turns putting meat into the soup. One way or another, communication arises between all the people sitting around shabu-shabu.

For those who like to eat a lot, restaurants offer the “shabu-shabu tabehodai” system – eat as much as you want. The visitor pays a fixed amount and, in 90 or 120 minutes, orders as much meat as he can eat.

Types of Shabu-Shabu in the Regions of Japan

  • Hokkaido: Octopus shabutako, lamb shaburamu, and crab kanishabu.
  • Nagoya: tori shabu with meat from Nagoya kochin chicken.
  • Toyama: buri-shabu with yellowtail.
  • Kansai region: hamo-shabu with moray eels.
  • Kagoshima: Kurobutashabu with Berkshire pig meat.

What is a Hot Pot?

If you are in Asia, be sure to visit a restaurant where they cook soup on their own in such an exciting brazier. Most often, it is called “hot pot.” I found the name on the Internet in simplified Chinese: 火锅; traditional Chinese: 火鍋; pinyin: huǒguō; lit .: “hot pot.”

Hot Pot
Image: Canva

Hot pot is the English translation from Chinese-Huo Guo-hot pot. This dish has a thousand-year history, extremely popular in China for many centuries. The hot pot has spread throughout China, growing in new variations, changing in each province depending on geographical and climatic conditions. But, despite the variability, hot pot remains a favorite dish for family holidays, friendly gatherings, and corporate events in almost the entire Middle Kingdom today, as it was many years ago.

Generally, a Hot Pot is a large, constantly heated pot (or pot) with boiling broth and food. It can be absolutely anything: thin strips of sliced meat, mushrooms, lettuce, vegetables, seafood, or fish. 

Several people gather around the pot, choose the ingredients they like, dip them in boiling broth, and cook, after which, falling in the sauce, they use the products cooked in a fragrant, spice-rich broth.

The process of cooking and eating food in this version turns out to be very meditative: the slow selection of an ingredient, its preparation-all this gives a lot of time for friendly conversations or noisy feasts. It is not surprising that the hot pot is China’s most essential and typical festive family dish. It is surprisingly diverse, suitable for any large company, and every taste.

Hot Pot Recipe History

Hogo has a long history in China. This Chinese hot pot samovar has been known in China for over 1,000 years. This dish originated in the north, where people tried to fight the cold with hot broth.

Earlier, people only ate it in the winter to fight the cold, but over time, people started to eat it all year round. Nomads from the north, who settled in China, introduced beef and lamb to the recipe for hot pot.

During the Tang Dynasty (618-907), hogo began to spread to the south. Residents of the south started to add seafood to the hot pot. During the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), hogo became a popular dish throughout China.

In each province of China, a hot pot is prepared in its way, using local ingredients. The birthplace of hot pot and the main hotpot – the city of Chongqing, the heart of Sichuan province-is known for a very spicy version of the dish with the addition of large amounts of chili pepper and Sichuan pepper, about the fantastic “buzzing” property of which I have already told you before. 

In Beijing and northeastern China, they love the lamb hotpot. In Guangdong, a southern province known for its exotic culinary tastes (this is where the most omnivorous Chinese live), prepare a seafood hot pot. Each region adds something special, especially appreciated, to the dish, but, one way or another, hot pot remains a favorite folk dish.

Hot Pot Feature

The cooking technology of the dish is exciting. It comprises a bucket of coals at the bottom and an aluminum bowl with an elevation on the center’s top. First, let the pot heat up, then fry the meat on top, and grease the surface so that other ingredients do not stick later. 

You can choose a set of meat or seafood yourself. Everything will be cut very thinly so that it is easily fried. They will bring you water (we pour it into the deepening of the brazier, where you will cook the soup), vegetables, and all kinds of spices, and you add all the ingredients yourself at will.

What’s the Difference Between Japanese and Chinese Hot Pots?

“Hot pot” – under this name, we have taken root dishes from China, Korea, and Japan, which are served on the table directly in the pot (or saucepan) in which it is prepared.

This dish, with hundred-year history, is trendy in China and Japan. It has grown in new variations throughout China and Japan, based on local ingredients and geographical conditions. Most of these dishes are prepared directly on the table during a meal on a built-in or portable heated stove (electric or gas). 

The ingredients in the boiling broth are prepared quickly, and the heat under the pot is usually not reduced, so during even a very long dinner, this hearty dish, served for everyone, remains hot all the time.

Shabu-Shabu vs Hot Pot – Difference Between Hot Pot and Shabushabu

The common similarity between shabu-shabu and hot pots is that both use identical vegetables and meat slices when cooking them. But the main difference between Hot Pot and Shabushabu is, hot pot uses a heavier broth compared to shabu-shabu, which is cooked in a lighter broth.

Almost everyone agrees that shabushabu is a type of Japanese hot pot. Although these recipes share certain commonalities in ingredients and taste, many notable differences exist:

1. Cooking Method

The things that are the same for both shabu-shabu and hot pot are the table setting for preparation and preparing meat. But the cooking method is the only point where hot pot and shabushabu most sharply differ.

When it comes to making shabu-shabu, it does not imply cooking everything together. Each item is cooked separately. Also, the meat slices are cooked individually, preventing any flavors from mingling. In a hot pot, however, this requirement is not strictly enforced. In most cases, all meat and vegetable ingredients are added to the broth simultaneously and served.

In addition, we know that the preparation and cooking processes are the same. But there is a combined searing of meat and vegetables in a hot broth.

2. Broth 

Japanese hot pots, such as shabu, rely on broth almost as much as meat and vegetables. It is what cooks the meat and gives it flavor and tenderness. Most shabushabu restaurants use mild, flavorful soup with few seasonings.

However, hot pots are cooked in a sweet and savory sauce made of soy sauce, mirin, broth, and sugar. The alluring aromas and flavors result from a seamless blending of salty, sweet, sour, and umami components.

These broth combinations aren’t always necessary, and both recipes could benefit from variations and additions.

3. Serving

Shabu-shabu is served to prepare it bite by bite. It usually comes with various dips, such as soy sauce, wasabi sauce, and sesame sauce.

To prepare a hot pot, combine the meat and vegetables in a boiling liquid mixture and cook them all together. The entire meal is served in one go and is usually served with tofu and noodles cooked in a sweet and salty sauce.

4. Ingredients  

The ingredients appear to be very similar at first look. The main meat in both recipes is beef (often a ribeye steak), and the vegetable options are very similar ( leafy greens, cabbage, mushrooms, etc.).

The difference, however, is in the components used to make the broth. We’ve learned that hot pot broth typically incorporates particular ingredients (like soy sauce) that impart a dosage of sweetness, umami, and sourness.

However, the egg batter used in the hot pot dish appears to be the primary distinction. In shabushabu, you never use batter made with eggs. In contrast, hot pot ingredients are frequently dipped in an egg wash before cooking in hot broth.

People also ask – FAQ

Is the Hot Pot Korean or Japanese?

No, this is a Chinese-originated dish spread throughout Japan and Korea in new variations, depending on geographical and climatic conditions.

Is Shabu-Shabu Healthy?

Shabu-Shabu is a very healthy dish that contains a good balance of proteins and vitamins and contains no grease, oil, or Monosodium glutamate (MSG).

Is Shabu-Shabu Good for Weight Loss?

It can give you more energy and has other health advantages, but because it contains a lot of calories and carbohydrates, there are better options for weight loss.

What Do You Serve With Shabu-shabu?

You’ll often be given two dipping sauces at shabu-shabu restaurants: ponzu and sesame sauce.

Is Hot Pot Gluten-free?

Due to the soup’s abundance of umami and excellent vitamins and minerals from all of the components, the dish is exceptionally nutrient-dense. Yes, it is gluten-free and oil-free.

What is a Korean Hot pot?

A Korean hot pot is a delicious broth known as a hot pot that is typically served in a sizable metal pot. Throughout the course of the dinner, the broth is simmered after coming to a boil. Raw items are cooked by being added to the simmering broth, including meat and vegetables.

How Many People Can Share a Hot Pot?

A large hot pot can serve up to 8 people but often serves 6 people perfectly. Consider setting up 2 hot pot sets if you have more people.

How Much is Hot Pot Per Person?

To feed about 4 people (not sharing) with a diet coke came up to $16, and the average price is under $50, including tip and others.


Shabushabu is a type of traditional Chinese hot pot. Many people mix up shabushabu with hot pot, but the dish’s Japanese roots and preparation (swishing the main protein in hot broth) make it distinct and a must-try item. However, don’t overlook the many classic recipes and limitless options of a good hot pot.