When Duke Nguyen opened California Shabu Shabu in Fairfax, VA 3 years ago, he had no idea the Japanese concept would take off.

Traditional shabu shabu consists of cooking thinly sliced meat, tofu, seafood, or vegetables piece-by-piece in a hotpot at the dinner table.

Guests dining at the restaurant are given a plate of assorted vegetables and in-house sauces made entirely of Japanese ingredients. A goma and ponzu sauce (gluten free options include soy ponzu or teriyaki) make up the major flavors shabu shabu loyalists come back to again and again.

What to Eat in Fairfax, VA

Tucked between an assortment of speciality stores, guests will enter California Shabu Shabu to find beautiful murals and a bar-style seating arrangement.

There’s so much for your senses to experience there, but after-all we’re here for the food. We recommend starting the night with their Japanese chicken wings. Then go for a choice of their high-quality Kobe beef as your protein paired with their house-blend goma and ponzu sauce.

Make it a girls night out or date night and choose a cocktail from their extensive selection of Japanese spirits. My drink of choice? The mojito, hands down.

Check out some photos of the space below:

Your choice of protein is dipped into a hot pot of specially treated water.
Inside California Shabu Shabu in Fairfax, VA.


An Army Vet, Nguyen is glad the people of Fairfax, VA have embraced shabu shabu. It’s a dish he holds so dear he used to eat it 3 times per week. (He swears he only has shabu shabu once a week now.)

“I like the people in this community, says Nguyen. “I started to develop friends.