We haven't tried the Shabu Shabu dining option at the Lotus Garden aboard the Norwegian Pearl so we decided to give it a shot. A large fondue-like pot with hot broth was brought out and placed on the heating element located in the middle of our table. The servers then proceeded to bring out a huge plate of vegetables, tofu and chicken, as well as a plate of thinly sliced beef. The vegetables consisted of baby bok-choy, napa cabbage, scallions, onion slices, snow peas and wild mushrooms. You also get two dipping options in the form of a peanut sauce and ponzu. Four pork dumplings that were already steam-cooked also included.
Four different types of noodles also accompanied the other plates. There were udon, Hong Kong style egg noodles, rice vermicelle, and white rice noodles. Personally I thought the egg noodles tasted the best.
The thinly sliced beef was the star- dip into the boiling broth for 2-3 seconds and it's ready to be eaten- very tender and melts in the mouth. We finished the first plate and asked for a second plate, which came out frozen but still tasted good. The snow peas you have to make sure they are not overcooked. Same goes for the dumplings or else you risk the breaking apart. The broth was not too salty and the flavor kept increasing due to all the ingredients that were placed in the pot.
For dessert you get your choice of green tea ice cream w/ green tea cake or sashimi fruit. Both were terrific- you can try both if you ask for it. The "sashimi" fruit was pretty much thinly sliced fruit with two tasty dipping sauces- one was vanilla-like and the other seemed to be made out of passion fruit.
Overall it was an enjoyable dinner, though we thought NCL could have improved the Shabu Shabu/hot pot experience a couple ways. Firstly there was a glaring lack of seafood. No shrimp, fish or scallops came with it. Perhaps the $15 per person cover charge was not enough to include seafood which would have really intensified the flavor of the broth. What would have made the hot pot super-special was if raw geoduck were included. Also if NCL had included a third sauce in the form of the sandy Chinese/Taiwanese style BBQ sauce w/ soy sauce and raw egg it would have improved the overall experience as well. Actually any addition of egg would have been a welcome addition to the broth (and the mouth).
Service was very good overall. A team of four servers helped bring out the pot and plates as well as put some items on the plates into the broth. You could easily ask for more helpings of any particular vegetable, dumplings, meat, etc. no problem.
We give the Norwegian Cruise Shabu Shabu a 3.5/5. It's definitely worth a try, especially if you're on a chilly Alaska cruise.