Nabebugyo Hot Pot Cuisine was a Japanese individual hot pot place opened in mid 2016. It was a hype in the foodie world because they were bridging Japanese and North American culture by not accepting tips. We have featured a few individual hot pot restaurants, but Japan is where this culture originated. This restaurant provides high-quality food and service that is worth multiple visits. Nabebugyo is located on Cambie Street and 16th Avenue in Vancouver
Strength: Japanese operated authentic hot pot
Other Individual Hot Pot
What is Nabebugyo
Traditional hot pot usually involves people gathered around one pot. The store name Nabebugyo means the disputes over the hot pot where Nabe means the hot pot and Bugyo means the slightly annoying person. When we go out for a hot pot with friends, there are usually disputes around what to put in the pot. Sometimes, you don’t even get to eat what we put in the pot. I like how the name is chosen for an individual hot pot restaurant.
Not many window from South
Nabebugyo Hot Pot Cuisine is located at a corner. They got some opportunities to advertise on 16th Avenue, but there are not many windows on this face. There is not much foot traffic on 16th Avenue, so it’s not a big deal. Also limiting the south-facing windows kept the store cooler during summer.
Spacious interior with proper equipment
The interior space has a similar strategy to Gokudo Shabu Shabu where the center U-shaped counter makes serving customers very efficient. If you come here by yourself or with 1 other person, you’re likely to be placed in this counter. There are many other tables and chairs to accommodate groups of 3 or 4.
Mirage Cadet Induction Range
When you sit down, the personal range is right in front of you with a good distance to the edge of table for you to eat. These ranges are very clean even after 3 years. The simple interface made it easy to operate. Staff will help you set the initial temperature of 200 degrees for cooking and recommend you to turn it down to 120 degrees to keep things warm. When I turned the temperature down, I noticed the temperature respond very quickly. I did some research and found out these units are approximately $450 each.
The utilitarian design maximized counter space
After sitting down, the first thing the staff does is to get you a jug of ice water. If you come with another person, you will be sitting at the counter. The jug of water is placed on the tray with glasses and push towards you so you can easily pour the water yourself. Afterward, they would pull the tray back toward them. This space is converted to place your meat dish in case patrons want to share.
No Tips needed
Have you heard of the stories where Chinese waitress chase after customers outside the restaurant to ask for more tips? I have, and I find it very embarrassing for the restaurant. In my honest opinion, Vancouver’s tipping culture has grown out of proportion over the years. It seems to have grown to 12% minimum, and most places preset the credit card machine to a 15% minimum tip amount. If you go with a large group, some restaurant does a mandatory 18% gratuity. Most of the time, these restaurants who increased their tip amount didn’t increase their service quality proportionally. I really think Nabebugyo appreciating their customer’s presence is such a breath of fresh air in this regard.
Seaweed Salad Appetizer
The next thing we got was a small deep dish of seaweed salad as an appetizer. It has good sesame and a slight acidity to get me ready for the main course.
4 pieces of meat
The meat is placed on a narrow plate on the side of the induction range. There are only 4 pieces of meat. It doesn’t seem like a lot but the meat has good thickness. When you bite into the meat, you can feel the chewy thickness. The meaty juice would come out and combine with the broth. It is very enjoyable.
Standard Veggie plate with noodle
Each meal comes with a bowl of rice, and a standard veggie plate like this. If the meat doesn’t fill you up, these will. The staff will explain the cooking process to you but the lady is quite soft-spoken, so you need to listen carefully.
Miso sesame broth
I ordered the #6 Miso Sesame Soy Milk Pot. The pot came with a pot of miso sesame broth as the base and a side of soy milk to be added after the temperature is turned down to prevent spilling. This soup is carefully prepared with konbu. There are lots of white sesame seeds to create a rich sesame aroma.
You are your own chef
With this self-cook hot pot, you get to decide your cooking sequence. You can cook each individual one by one as you eat, but I cooked everything together because the soy can only be added at low temperature. I’ve noticed the small pot only has 1 handle. This shows how thoughtful the owner is because only the staff is moving the pots. It is also a good way to save counter space.
Pouring it in
The number 6 is my favorite. The biggest reason being the satisfaction of pouring the soy milk into the pot. It’s almost ritual-like to pour it and tell myself “Let’s Eat!”. I’m not sure if you are familiar with soy in your food, but if pay attention, there is a faint undertone of acidity when the soy is combined with the sesame miso broth base. It’s very subtle and very delicious. This makes the hotpot very interesting.
604 Food Critic Assessment
Nabebugyo Hot Pot Cuisine focuses on an individual hot pot experience similar to the ones in Japan. Business strategy or not, I admire them for taking an opposite approach to the tips culture. The 4 pieces of meat per meal are a little less, but I am not sure how many pieces of meat are fair to ask for a $14 meal. Ultimately, Nabebugyo Hot Pot serve different styles of hot pot and ramen that taste authentic. This is probably the only place where you can get to have a hot pot meal for less than $15 in Vancouver.
How to get in touch
- Phone: (604) 710-5039
- Address: 3190 Cambie St, Vancouver
- Hours: 11:30 am – 2:30 pm Re-Open 5:30 pm – 9:30 pm, Saturday & Sunday 5:30 pm – 9:30 pm