I don’t know about you all, but whenever I go to an ethnic restaurant, I always keep an eye out for how many people of that ethnicity are actually dining there. I have no idea if this is a valid metric for a restaurant’s quality, but it’s served me well so far. So when I walked into Lettuce Shabu (Hongdae) and heard a lot of Japanese, I knew that I had come to the right spot for shabu shabu in Seoul.

From the title, you might picture Lettuce Shabu to be a cheap buffet joint that focuses on quantity rather than quality, but it’s actually rather upscale. To give you an idea, their freaking bathroom soap is from l’Occitane en Provence (I also judge the quality of a restaurant by its bathroom soap).

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Lettuce Shabu’s interior.

Lettuce Shabu offers you four different kinds of all-you-can-eat options with a ninety-minute time limit. The baseline option is pork for ₩14,800 (₩7,800 for lunch). From there, you can upgrade, and with each upgrade you’re allowed to select from the previous options as you go through ninety minutes of pure shabu shabu indulgence. The next level up is beef for ₩19,800 (₩9,800 for lunch), then Wagyu beef for ₩29,800 (₩19,800). Finally, for ₩35,800 (₩25,800), you can get Hanu beef, which comes from a specific breed of Korean cattle that is a cultural icon and a source of national pride for Koreans.

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Koreans consider Hanu beef to be one of the highest quality beef in the world. Photo cred: Lettuce Shabu

Once you’ve made your choice of meat(s), you then have the option to select from five different kinds of broth: the standard kombu, sukiyaki, tofu doenjang (bean paste), chili tomato, or curry.

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Lettuce Shabu’s sauces. Photo cred: Lettuce Shabu

If you’re overwhelmed by the options, I’d recommend choosing the beef at minimum (option 2) and the sukiyaki broth with raw egg dip on the side (the raw egg costs a little extra, but it’s definitely worth it to get the full shabu shabu experience!).

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Sukiyaki Broth with Beef and Pork, three kinds of sauces.

Lettuce Shabu also offers various dishes like udon as part of their buffet menu, but the unlimited beer tap they have available for customers is far more interesting in my opinion. I mean really, how awesome is that?

If you like shabu shabu, Lettuce Shabu in Hongdae is definitely worth a visit. You’re guaranteed to leave sated and, if unlimited beer is your thing, pleasantly buzzed as well.

Info:
Phone: 02-338-4952
Address: 163-10 Donggyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul
Hours: 
11:30 AM to 10:30 PM (last order at 9:30 PM)

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Lettuce Shabu is on the second floor, above Natuur Pop.

Directions:
Hongik University Station, Exit 9. Take an immediate left then the first right. It will be on the building to your left; second floor.

Looking for more great places to eat in the Hongdae area? Check out The Best Hongdae Restaurants You’ve Never Heard Of series, including restaurants like Dalgona (Italian) and Publican Bites!