My first trip to Diamond Plaza in Rowland Heights resulted in my first time dining at The Boat. I noticed Little Tokyo Shabu Shabu there as well, and the husband said he'd been there once with a friend, and he said it was really good, so I wanted to go back and try it, which we recently did.
It was on a Sunday night, a little later in the evening than peak dinner time, but the Plaza was still crowded enough that we decided to park downstairs. The downstairs parking is a little hard to find. If you drive alongside the buildings, and you get about half-way down, to the stop sign, the right turn should be the turn into the parking garage. I think there's a small sign that indicates that, which might be a little hard to see though.
We got to the restaurant, and we were told there was about a 30 minute wait, so we were given a buzzer and sat inside to wait. It only took about 15 or 20 minutes before we were seated at the bar. The restaurant isn't very big, consisting mostly of a long, double-sided bar. There are a couple of four-person tables, one two-person table and a larger table that seats about 10 or 14. Each seat at the bar has its own setup with a burner that has a pot with water in it. There are also various condiments available. At the tables, they have plug-in burners with pots on top, and because there isn't as much room, the table has to share the pot. I like the individual pots better because there's no confusion about what item belongs to whom, and you can also season your pot to your own taste.
The menu consists of some cooked items available as appetizers and then a choice of beef, lamb, pork or vegetarian plate, either in regular or large. Each choice also comes with rice and assorted vegetables. At least that's how it works with the shabu shabu, which is what I was there for. I've not had sukiyaki before, so I'm not entirely sure if that's similar, but I intend to find out sometime.
I decided on the appetizer of jelly fish (since I love the stuff), and it was really tasty, nice consistency, and spicy to boot. I also ordered the regular beef plate. The husband had an appetizer of gyoza (which he liked), and he ordered the large beef plate. He said that on a previous visit, he'd had a combo of beef and lamb and didn't think the lamb was that good.
There's boiling water in the plate, and all the items are brought to you raw, so you cook them yourself in the boiling water. The meat is cut very, very thin, so putting it in the water for a little while and swishing it around a bit is sufficient to cook it. For the vegetables, I like to leave them in the water for a while since some of it (like the stalk sections of the napa cabbage) are thicker and take longer to cook.
There is soy sauce and green onions and sesame oil that you can put in the pot or in your bowl for dipping. This kind of meal is especially good in colder weather because you get everything piping hot since you're cooking it yourself. You can also eat at your own pace and decide what you want to eat next.
The quality of the beef and the vegetables was very good, and I liked the mixture of vegetables. The only downside of the restaurant would be that it's often very crowded, so if you're going to go, don't wait until you're already hungry, because you'll probably have to wait.
Little Tokyo Shabu Shabu
1330 S. Fullerton Road, #108
City of Industry, CA 91748