Thursday, September 04, 2008

Cocary Shabu Shabu BBQ - Monterey Park

As pictures come up on my Flickr photostream, I sometimes wonder what made me upload them at the time. Since I tend to think in thematic groupings, but actually write based upon whim, the pictures and subsequent postings can seem a little disjointed.

For instance, I thought about posting a different Chinese restaurant every day for the duration of the Beijing Olympics to show the diversity of Chinese cuisine. While I have enough pictures in the queue to do so, I did not have the stamina to sort and edit those photos, nor the wherewithal to actually do the writing.

And thus, Cocary Shabu Shabu BBQ in Monterey Park sat forgotten for the duration of 200 photos.

Cocary Shabu Shabu BBQ - Monterey Park 1

I seem to hit restaurants in the late afternoon, after the lunch rush and before dinner. There were a handful of other diners and just me, the oldest '87, her oldest sister and her baby. We just missed the 3 p.m. cut-off for lunch discounts of 20% off the total bill.

There's actually two Cocary locations, a little diagonally across from each other, and both located on Garfield Avenue in Monterey Park. This is Cocary Shabu Shabu BBQ, the newer location, on the west side of the street, just south of Garvey Avenue. The old location is just north of Garvey in an aging strip mall and bills itself as Cocary Bar-B-Q Restaurant. Got that?

Cocary is a cook at the table Chinese grill and hot pot. At the back of the room are huge refrigerators where you choose from various meats and vegetables. Plates start at $1.29 and go up to $2.99. There's also a corner near the counter to serve your own free rice too.

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In the center of the table is the combo hot plate and hot pot. Add what you want to the soup. Slather on some butter and grill your meat. Don't wear anything you don't want splattered with grease.

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My cousin warned me not to get these egg dumplings because they were pretty tasteless. And at $2.99 for only six tiny dumplings, they weren't that cheap either. But I remembered seeing Amy of Nook and Pantry's egg dumplings and wanted to try. I don't remember what was in the filling, but sure enough, as my cousin said, these dumplings were pretty bland. I added them to the soup and they tasted like nothing. Tried grilling them and didn't get much flavor either.

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I thought the plates of meat were pretty skimpy too, even for that $2.99.

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A $2.99 veggie plate.

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Grilling up some meat and making soup.

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Added a plate of chrysanthemum leaves and oysters.

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Time to hit the dessert fridge. I liked the almond jelly.

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Eight large plates, two mid-size plates, and six small plates. Total bill before tip for three people? $40.95. Not that cheap when you think about it. For that price, I could have hit up a really cheap all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ and had my fill of meat and veggies. The concept reminded me of a long ago visit to Coriya Hot Pot City in San Francisco, but at least the latter had the all-you-can-eat price to justify the lackluster food.

In a city of really great Chinese food, just OK doesn't really do it for me. Anyway, I suggest if you want to try this place, go before 3 p.m. to take advantage of the 20% discount.

And for all you cheap Yelpers who brag about leaving no tip or a measly 37 cents for the waitress because you have to get and cook your own food, all I can say is: You suck! The waitress brings your plates and tea, clears plates as needed, and has to clean up after you. Don't be cheap just because it's an Asian restaurant or because you chose to dine at a place where you do the cooking. She's got to make a living too. Sheesh!

Other hot pot and shabu shabu restaurants:
Happy Sheep Cafe - Rowland Heights
Happy Sheep Cafe Shabu & Grill - San Gabriel
Jazz Cat Restaurant - San Gabriel
Monland Hot Pot City - San Gabriel
Shin-Sen-Gumi Yakitori-Shabu Shabu - Monterey Park

Cocary Shabu Shabu BBQ
209 S. Garfield Ave.
Monterey Park, CA 91754

1 year ago today, Chicken Pot Pie with Cilantro Biscuits.


  1. OMG- I want that Shabu Shabu grill pot!!!!

  2. I don't do the no tip or a measly tip thing, but I'm curious, how much is appropriate for this kind of meal? And also, what's the tipping rate if you pre-pay for your meal (like at a boba place for a meal). Thanks.

  3. Jaden,
    You want a Korean BBQ grill too. Where would you put all this stuff?

    I tip the standard 15 to 20% regardless of ethnic cuisine. I don't believe in tipping less simply because it's an ethnic restaurant or because I'm cooking my own food. Restaurants such as hot pot or BBQ, cooking your own food is part of the experience. The wait staff is still bringing out plates and clearing them, same as any other restaurant. As for boba places, they're akin to coffee shops, so if I tip whatever change I have in my hand.


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