It’s almost unfair to call Ushabu a “work in progress.” But for chef and owner Matthew Spinner, that’s how he sees his tiny Japanese restaurant. “Our menu is constantly under construction,” he says.
While the offerings consistently include shabu-shabu, the Japanese practice of cooking thinly sliced meat in a hot pot of bubbling broth, Spinner reinvents the regional Japanese small plates menu every couple of months.
Not only does he spotlight a certain place, but he’ll zero in on a specific time. He’s explored Osaka in 1957, delved into Okinawa in 1984 and recently took diners back to Nagasaki in 1584 — every time researching the hell out of the culture.
“There’s a larger, overarching, unflinching respect for the food cultures of the world,” he says. “When we approach recipes, we don’t look at something and say, ‘Oh, that’s old. That doesn’t make sense. Let’s do it in a more modern way.’ We approach it and say, ‘Let’s dissect that.’ ”
His latest menu, set to launch in early May, takes a broader approach by examining traditional Japanese steakhouses — which he says are much different than the Benihanas Americans are used to. He’ll use different cuts and ages of beef (expect to see imported A 5-BMS 12 Japanese wagyu) and prepare them a variety of ways —think grills, cast-iron pans and sous vide.
“It’s thinking of all these different ways to utilize these different styles and cuts of beef that give what I feel like is the best expression of them,” he says, “rather than just slapping them on the same grill with salt and letting them speak for themselves.”
2173 Professor Ave., Cleveland, 216-713-1741, ushabu.com
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