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Inside Nabe, DIY Hot Pots In The Sunset

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[Photo: Blair Sneddon]

The neatly dressed little number you see here is Nabe, a brand new nabemono hot pot restaurant opening Friday in the Inner Sunset, from first time restaurateur, 29-year-old Hilwin Wong. You could say running a restaurant is in Wong's DNA: her father owns the Saigon Seafood Harbor restaurants in Sunnyvale, Richmond, and El Cerrito, along with his own import/export business. Nabe is a casual, 32-seat restaurant with one long communal table running the entire length of the space, and a customized wooden grid built into the ceiling. The menu, shared earlier, includes many choices for broth, meat and seafood, noodles and rice, and add-ins like mizuna and raw organic egg.

The idea is to pick from each category above to build-your-own nabemono hot pot. There are also a few starters like gyoza and edamame, and matcha parfait or flavored chocolate fondue for dessert. Hilwin says Japan-native, chef Isamu Kanai sources only organic, "high quality" ingredients, and "knows authentic Japanese food very well."

The decor was designed by Alan Tse, to include a customized sake wall, where Wong will display empty bottles of the "Guccis and LVs" of sake. In the center of the tables are built-in groves and induction stove tops for the hot pots. Hours are daily 5 to 10 p.m., and lunch will begin in January.

Take a look around, and do send any early reports our way .

UPDATE: Chef Isamu Kanai writes in to report that he was just a consultant on the project for a short time and is no longer employed by Nabe. His main job is executive chef at Bushido Izakaya in Mountain View.

· All Nabe Coverage [~ ESF ~]