Nouveau Shabu Shabu at Mina 74
by bill kearney
At the Fontainebleau’s new Mina 74, Michael Mina cleverly breaks the rules, adding shape and luxe flavor to shabu shabu.
At the new Mina 74 at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach, shabu shabu is transformed into refined comfort food.
If you’ve previously experienced shabu shabu (translated from Japanese as “swish swish”), you know it’s fun: dipping thinly sliced raw beef into a tasty heated broth at the table, then slurping the barely cooked beef down with whatever vegetables you’ve tossed in. Michael Mina, the creative force behind a 19-restaurant empire, which now includes Mina 74 at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach, describes his new spot, in the former Arkadia space, as a “modern-day supper club bistro” with a playfully global menu, giving him permission to color outside the lines. He fittingly does some rather delicious tinkering with his version of shabu shabu.
Traditionally, the dish is served with a light dashi broth made with kombu seaweed and dried fish flakes, but Mina, who frequently sojourns to Japan, says, “We pushed up the flavor. We add a little bit of aromatics to it—mirin for sweetness and ginger for spice—and it offsets the wagyu beef really well.” He opts for rib eye from Japanese wagyu for its richness. “It’s super marbleized, really tender, but rib eye has that nice, strong flavor, so it holds up well [to the other elements].” Mina chills the beef until it’s really cold to keep it firm while slicing, and takes care to not let the slicer blade get warm and melt the fat.
Michael Mina carefully wraps the beef around daikon radish sprouts and enoki mushrooms.
A Novel Step
Unlike traditional shabu shabu, which usually has a pile of sliced meat on the plate, Mina wraps the beef around delicate daikon radish sprouts and slender enoki mushrooms, making neat two-inch rolls to drop into the broth. He plates the rolls with watermelon radish slivers and shishito peppers (which you are also to drop in the broth), sprinkles everything with bonito flakes and sea salt, and puts the flaming pot of dashi broth in the middle.
Aromatic elements add sweetness and spice.
At the Table
As for the swish, Mina recommends letting the roll sit in the broth for 30 to 60 seconds. “You could eat this raw, but I prefer Japanese beef closer to medium. It breaks down the fats a little bit when you cook it a little further. You’ll start to get a lot more flavor out of the meat.” But it is when you pluck the roll out of the steaming broth, dab it in a white miso dipping sauce, and take a bite that you realize the smarts of Mina’s roll architecture. The mushrooms and sprouts retain broth in their strands, adding savory layers and buoyant texture under the tender meat. As the structure breaks down and everything mingles, you get different intensities of savory, subtle spice, and umami flavor, while the sweet tang of the white miso draws out the buttery nature of the beef.
“When you’re done, you have this broth that’s flavored by the wagyu, and you drink the broth,” says Mina. Chase it down with a malty sweet Rogue Dead Guy ale, the restaurant’s pairing of choice, and you’ll be glad Mina has a habit of coloring outside the lines. Fontainebleau Miami Beach, 4441 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, 305-674-4636
photography by gesi schilling
Cover shoot: Behind the scenes with Pitbull for the October 2014 issue of Ocean Drive magazine.