DipDipDip is owner and chef Tatsu Aikawa’s new-school take on shabu-shabu, which is a type of Japanese nabemono aka hot pot. He wanted to focus on this particular type of cuisine to “show people in Austin that there are a lot of cool sub-genres of Japanese food besides sushi.” He compared DipDipDip to “going to a nice steakhouse.”
The way it works: Raw meats and vegetables are cooked in hot broths and then dipped into sauces. The entire seating setup is made for an easy hot pot experience, or what Aikawa calls the “cockpit of the dining experience.” There are shelves for meat trays, individual heaters for the Japanese cast-iron pots (as opposed to communal pots at other similar restaurants), holders for the dipping sauces, a little stand holding ladles and spoons. There are timing suggestions on the side of each setting for each type of meat. The dividers are removable for parties larger than two people.
People can order off the menu, which is found in a pocket on the twirlable stool seats which are fixed to the ground, as well as the tall roaming carts full of seasonal specialties (“I really wanted to build a rolling candy cart,” Aikawa said). There are a la carte choices, as well as omakase options.
The cookable ingredients are meant to highlight the best of Texas ranches and farms. There’s A5 miyazaki wagyu from the Japanese island of Kyushu, Texas wagyu from Strube ranch, and more. Vegetables will include seasonal mushrooms. There will also be concocted items meant to be dipped, like tofu skins stuffed with ingredients; meatballs; skewers; gyu maki (beef rolls); housemade tofu; and noodles including ramen, of course.
“Shabu shabu gives me the form to taste those things in a direct way,” Aikawa explained, “but we make it fun by adding different dips.” Those include fun ones like the truffle sukiyaki served with a 45-minute egg which is meant to be mixed up, as well as the Keep Austin Dipping, its take on queso which is actually served in a container meant to be placed within the broth pot for easy melting.
As for the drinks from beverage director Michael Phillips, there’s a focus on “classic standards, brought up in modern Japanese style,” as he explained, “tried and true drinks with our own tone.” This means the gibu martni, his take on the Gibson martini with barley shochu, Irish gin with gunpowder tea, and a rakkyo pickle; or the take on the gim bramble with the Second Spring, mixed with imo shochu, yaupon gin, sudachi, and koji-fermented blackberry.
This is the first Tatsu-ya restaurant which will feature wine, with a focus on both old-world and natural options, the latter of which are “very palate cleansing, and goes really well with the food.” There’s also sake and beer.
DipDipDip will be open for dinner from 5 to 10 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday, and then from 5 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Eater photographer Courtney Pierce toured the space, which is full of wood details, from the tansu cabinets that line the walls to the family crest surrounded by cut bamboo shoots