East meets West at a new hot pot restaurant coming to Bayside next month.
Standing at 39-32 Bell Blvd. is Shabulixius, the brainchild of Long Island chef and co-owner Shirley King. After working for 20 years at renowned restaurants and hotels in the greater New York City area, King wanted to open her own place to step out of her comfort zone.
Hot pot or “shabu-shabu” in Japanese, consists of thinly sliced meat, vegetables and other ingredients boiled in a flavorful broth, traditionally shared amongst a group of people.
“Basically, Shabulixius is gonna be for neighbors, for friends and family [to] get together eating hot pot in either a big pot in the middle or individual,” said King.
Historically, the chef said that Asian cultures eat hot pot during special occasions and holidays but has since become more common. The idea for her own hot pot restaurant originated 20 years ago when “mini shabu” started becoming popular in Flushing.
“My sister and I, we really like to eat this. It’s very interesting [and] it’s fun because you have your own pot,” King said. “One day my sister told me that, ‘You know what, Shirley? One day if I ever wanted to open a shabu restaurant, I’m gonna call it Shabulicious.'”
Nearly two decades later when King decided to open a hot pot joint, her sister offered up the name. Instead of using the ending “-cious,” she decided to go with “-xius” for a unique twist. King’s 11-year-old niece designed the shop’s logo, which incorporated chopsticks and animated steam.
When it came to menu planning, King said that she wanted to combine her Western cooking style with her Eastern roots. She said that her father, who is a Chinese chef, has been working with her to come up with innovative recipes like French onion broth hot pot, bouillabaisse broth and a special sukiyaki with duck jus.
The chef shared that she wanted to focus on the quality of ingredients that go into each hot pot dish in an increasingly health-conscious world.
“You know what you put in your mouth and the broth that we make is really from cooking down the bone and not adding any other stuff. A lot of people are skeptical about MSG [monosodium glutamate]; we don’t use that. So it really takes time to cook it down and make the broth flavorful,” King said.
Some ingredients that go into the broth are lemongrass, bay leaf and málà, a combination of 15 to 20 spices simmered in oil. A majority of the meat, seafood, vegetables and other ingredients will be sourced locally from supermarkets and farmers markets.
Once the restaurant is open, King said that there will be a guide to teach newcomers how to eat hot pot. Guests can choose two, three or four soup bases for a big pot or one of seven house-made broths for an individual serving.
“Shabulixius is very happy that it gets to be part of Bell Boulevard,” King said. “We hope that we could bring a lot of joy to this neighborhood.”