Until the 14th of February 2020, the "Oishii" (japanese for "delicious") pop-up has taken its quarters at the Widder Hotel. Guests can get excited about a fondue experience of the more elegant art. However, what is this "shabu-shabu"? and what differentiates Oishii from any other fondue serving restaurant in the city? Here's a quick (not to be taken too seriously) comparison:
- Cheese Fondue: various melted cheeses gurgle happily in a a with garlic coated pot, waiting for a piece of bread or potato to get mixed in.
- Shabu-Shabu at Oishii: a hot bouillion, often made with seeweed, cooks Shirataki noodles, broccoli, pak choi, soya sauce and spring onions. The crowning ingredients such as Swiss beef, Vietnamese shrimp, Japanese fishballs and Scottish salmon are added one by one and cooked to taste. Those who want to indulge even more, can add 100g Wagyu Entrecôte (90 CHF), a piece of lobster tail (25 CHF) or scallops (5 CHF a piece). Vegetarian and vegan options are also available.
The appropriate drink
- Chees Fondue: Can I offer a little more Féchy? Aigle de Murailles maybe? Maybe we'll skip the obligatory next-morning-head-ache. However, the customary digestive cannot be left forgotten.
- Shabu-Shabu at Oishii: A glass for champaign? Two flûtes of Ruiniart are included in the menu. This isn't typically Japanese per se, but does add to the conversation.
What about the accompaniments?
- Cheese Fondue: A couple of lonely cornichons or baby corns can be spotted near the sea of cheese, otherwise, cheese fondue is somewhat for the purists. No "Schischi" please!
- Shabu-Shabu at Oishii: a Japanese vegetable salad starts off the menu and opens up the appetite, without adding too many calories for those counting. In order to enjoy every taste as its own, analog to sushi, you can neutralise the taste between mouthful. Not with any ginger as with sushi but with pumpkin. We had to order quite a few, as the pumpkin itself was a delicious treat. A bowl of rice is also served. And what would a three course menu be without a dessert ? Exactly! The green tea and sake tiramisu will make brighten any matcha-lovers evening.
- Cheese Fondue: The smell of cheese that envelops the whole room. Chairs against chairs, we celebrate being together at a stereotypically red and white checkered wooden table. That's what clear winter nights were made for!
- Shabu-Shabu at Oishii: The decoration at the Oishii is a feast for the senses. The ram statues, which we were told are not to the manager's liking, were descreetly cloaked in the Kinbaku style. The designers from MADE.com, responsible for the ambiance, create such a world, with art work and flowers, that you could almost forget that at the end of the meal it's a tram and not a riksha that awaits outside.
- Cheese Fondue: How can you survive the winter in the Alps, when the bread is already hard and dry? Bingo ! A little hot melted cheese and even the oldest "Mutschli" turns into a feast. Cheese Fondue is a working-class meal and usually costs between 30 and 40 CHF in most places. Whoever finds this sentence ironic, hasn't lived in Zurich long enough.
- Shabu-Shabu at Oishii: The originals of Shabu-Shabu an be traces to China. It first appeared in the 20th centuary in Osaka. As you might know, it is not indigenous to Zurich and at Oishii it has been staged even more extravagantly. Price point: 130 CHF.
Cheese Fondue is an amazing winter dish, no questions asked. However, for those looking for something a little lighter during this season, Shabu-Shabu is exactly right. An evening at Oishii is definitely something exceptional and we would go back anytime - also because of the ambiance as well as the charming and very knowledgeable waiters. The concept is thoroughly thought through - from the welcome to the last drop of champagne. Japanese Pop-ups are already tradition at the Widder Hotel (see post on Pop-up "Sushi & Sake" from March 2016). What magical pop-up at the Widder Hotel awaits us next?
P.S.: For all those who not interested in pop-ups but still would like to enjoy a hot shabu-shabu, you can find out which restaurants serve this dish on our "What-to-eat-where" section. Spoiler alert: there are only 3 other places.