Shabu-Shabu Meets Fine Dining at DipDipDip Tatsu-Ya

Chef Tatsu’s latest concept offers Austin a new hot pot experience

DipDipDip Tatsu-Ya is the latest concept from chef/owner Tatsu Aikawa, who graced our city with other culinary hits Ramen Tatsu-Ya, Kemuri Tatsu-Ya, and Domo Alley-Gato. Northside gourmands will revel in its Burnet Road location, which opened June 27.

Photo by Jody Horton

All those dips refer to shabu-shabu, a Japanese hot pot experience where diners cook raw ingredients at their table, usually sharing a pot of simmering broth. In order to elevate the entire experience, Tatsu along with his design team at McCray & Co., crafted a space filled with intricate details – wood-carved light fixtures, bamboo walls, traditional Japanese baskets, and tables constructed to hold an individual cast iron pot for each guest.

The experience really begins in the parking lot where a wooden facade has replaced the strip mall exterior, forming an unexpected juxtaposition between refined architecture and outdated structure, or perhaps the past and the future. DipDipDip’s exterior is just a taste of the design sense that awaits inside.

As “Irasshaimase!,” a Japanese welcome, erupts from the dimly lit space, thoughtfully arranged table settings come into view, and wooden dividers subtly add privacy. Each table comes with a platform to support dishes, a utensil assortment – ladles, tongs, chopsticks, slotted spoons, tasting dishes – plus shelves to hold the ingredients, and a miniature hourglass. Menus are pulled from their holsters (attached to the stools’ sides) and with guidance from the server, diners select from broths like vegetarian kombu dashi and 50-hour Tonkotsu pork bone broth. Soon a broth-filled cast iron pot is placed in its designated slot on the table, on top of burners, and in the time it takes the broth to simmer, plates topped with raw ingredients begin appearing.

Photo by Jody Horton

Items like koshihikari rice, citrus ponzu dip, and sesame gomadare dip are placed nearby for easy dipping, and the truffle sukiyaki is topped with a 45-minute egg, mentsuyu soy, and brown butter. Locally-sourced vegetables inside a wooden box – think enoki mushrooms, cabbage, snap peas, asparagus, kale, daikon – are centered on the table, and plates of delicately sliced meats are stacked on shelves. Other items include sui gyoza – wontons stuffed with blue crab and lemon butter, and a “pot pocket” – tofu skin filled with raclette cheese and mushrooms.

For the chicken and shiso meatballs, the mixture is scooped with a hollowed piece of bamboo into the simmering broth for 3 minutes, timed by an hourglass, and once removed, each meatball is dipped into a separate sauce option – citrus ponzu, sesame gomadare, and truffle sukiyaki. Diners continue to drop items into the pots one-by-one, flipping the hourglass to match the table card’s specified cooking time. Fresh dashi broth periodically appears, refilling each pot in need of a top-off, and as a bonus, nightly specials glides around on their wooden cart, presenting off-menu items to be chosen on sight.

For anyone not absolutely stuffed already, dessert features dishes like watermelon granita with a dollop of crème fraîche, for a refreshing end to a decadent meal.

DipDipDip Tatsu-ya

7301 Burnet Rd., #101

Wed.-Thurs., Sun., 5-10pm; Fri.-Sat., 5-11pm

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