Business Profile

“Swish-Swish” the Food in Your Shabu Shabu Dish

New food concept arrives in Orlando

Successful restaurateur Charlie Sukitjavanich began his venture 35 years ago in Thailand and has since brought his culinary expertise to the United States. With successful eateries in both California and Florida, he has teamed up with his son, Nat, to open a one-of-a-kind dining experience on International Drive.

Best Shabu Shabu World Noodle +Pho had its grand opening in May, and the Sukitjavaniches have been pleased with the amount of local traffic so far. As the only restaurant in Orlando that provides shabu shabu, Charlie has capitalized on this niche and taken the idea to the next level, offering noodles from all over the world to pair with the finest meats, broths and sauces.

“I don’t know anyone in Florida who has a menu like this, with everything in one place,” said Nat, who manages the restaurant.

“We are introducing a new food concept,” Charlie said. “There is nothing like it in Orlando. It’s like fondue; you eat beef with soup. We have many kinds of soups and broths for the customer to choose from.”

According to the restaurant website, shabu shabu, translated as “swish-swish,” is a Japanese hot pot meal of thin slices of meat and vegetables cooked together on the table in a nabe. All guests eat from the nabe by serving their own portion into their individual serving bowls.

Essentially, guests can take slices of the top quality Kobe or U.S. top quality beef or other meats, like salmon, pork, chicken or lamb, and dip them in the hot pot of soup or broth, choosing rare, medium-rare or well-done finishes.

“We also have a seafood combination,” Charlie said. “You can have fish, scallops, oysters and more in a combination of flavors. Enjoy both surf and turf, from the land and from the sea.”

No stranger to success, Charlie has seen businesses boom in Los Angeles, with his Cho Oishi restaurant — located in the Hollywood & Highland Center in front of the famous Hollywood Walk of Fame — and in his four Central Florida locations of Thai Thani, a popular local Thai restaurant. Still, nothing like Best Shabu Shabu has existed yet in this area.

“We have a variety of noodles from all over the world,” Charlie said. “This is our concept. We have noodles from Thailand, China, Singapore and even Italy.”

His dishes range from vegetarian-friendly options to melt-in-your-mouth Kobe beef.

Chef Saing, who made her way to the U.S. with the Sukitjavanich clan, has created a one-of-a-kind special sauce that has a mild, spicy but sweet taste, which many enjoy pairing with the various shabu shabu dishes.

Charlie Sukitjavanich opens Best Shabu Shabu World Noodle +Pho, a one-of-a-kind eatery that offers patrons noodles from all over the world to pair with the finest meats, broths and sauces. The successful restaurateur then visits Alaska, where his next venture may be located.

Charlie Sukitjavanich opens Best Shabu Shabu World Noodle +Pho, a one-of-a-kind eatery that offers patrons noodles from all over the world to pair with the finest meats, broths and sauces. The successful restaurateur then visits Alaska, where his next venture may be located.

Charlie brought his family to America initially for education, and he and his wife, Anita, still instill that value in their six children and five grandchildren. Charlie graduated from Michigan State University with an MBA in marketing, and his son, Nat, earned his MBA in finance from St. Louis University.

Japanese saké is just one of the many drinks offered at Best Shabu Shabu’s full liquor bar. Guests have the option of enjoying a meal or a few drinks at the bar, or finding seating near the open kitchen. The 5,000-square-foot restaurant provides upscale indoor seating and a nice outdoor area as well.

“Our best dish is the Kobe beef shabu shabu,” Nat said. “I would pair it with Japanese saké. It goes really well with the dish.”

For guests who still want more than the Best Shabu Shabu menu offers, Nat has a solution: the clientele is able to order food from two nearby sister restaurants — Thai Thani or Oishi Japanese Hibachi & Sushi Restaurant — and have the dishes served to their table.

“We can serve you everything on the Asian turf,” he said. “I’m passionate about the food. The first restaurant my father had, I was 7 years old. For 35 years, we continued having restaurants, from Thailand to the U.S.”

And Charlie doesn’t plan to stop growing. A true lover of the culinary arts, he is currently on a quest to find a new location for yet another successful concept restaurant. He recently traveled to Alaska and is considering the Land of the Midnight Sun for his next venture.

Shabu Shabu World Noodle +Pho is located at 11025 International Drive in Orlando. For more information, call 407-809-2662 or visit http://www.shabunoodlephoorlando.com on the Web.