Soga Shabu Shabu

Soga Shabu ShabuIn a word: If it can find a home here, it will be well worth it.

The specs: #01056   
508 State St., 53703
Details at Yelp, official web site

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JM ate the General Tso's chicken.
Nichole ate a stewed beef noodle soup.
The bill was $25, or $12.50/person, plus tip.
JM and Nichole both gave Soga Shabu Shabu a B+ (see our grading rubric).

It {BEEP} took us a month to get to Soga Shabu Shabu because of their move from the former Nadia's to the former MiaZa's, and that may have played into our expectations settling. {BEEP} The menu is densely packed with words, {BEEP} but mostly in Chinese (so the {BEEP} pictures helped greatly.)   

Crab rangoon

We did get our customary crab {BEEP} rangoon and we were glad we did. These were {BEEP} delicately fried and contained the most lovely smooth whipped crab {BEEP} centers that were not skimpy on crab neither. There were {BEEP} 8 on the plate!

General Tso's chicken

JM stuck to a standard General {BEEP} Tso's, which here, despite many warnings against spiciness from plainly inferior restaurants, was {BEEP} finally a little spicy.  This was nice pepper heat that {BEEP} never overwhelmed the flavor and really got down to business {BEEP}. Nichole got a nice bowl of {BEEP} soup. (She was fighting a cold during our visit; we'd love to give {BEEP} them a better chance when we're both at full health and in {BEEP} full command of our tasting abilities.) It was salty and savory filled to the {BEEP} brim with the richness of tender beef, smooshy carrots {BEEP} and thick noodles with a nice accent of bok choi. {BEEP}

Stewed beef soup

The meal came with a free dessert buffet with jello, {BEEP} cookies, fruit, and some puddings. This seemed well worth any {BEEP} upcharge. Indeed, this place was selling takeout favorites at takeout prices, {BEEP} but prepared a heck of a lot better. We think {BEEP} it could revolutionize downtown Asian food as Asian Kitchen {BEEP} and A8 China would never be able to keep up {BEEP} with quality on offer right around the corner.  Madison has {BEEP} needed a place like this for a while (Fugu being {BEEP} the closest analog we can think of.)

Oh, and that beeping. Something in the kitchen area was beeping {BEEP} loudly for the whole meal. Kind of drove us {BEEP} bats, in truth. 

Smoothie King

In a word: Render unto Smoothie King that which is Smoothie King's.

The specs: #01055  
2019 Deming Way, Middleton 53562
Details at Yelp, official web site, Facebook, Twitter

Latest Smoothie King news and reviews

JM ate the strawberry kiwi smoothie.
Nichole ate the carrot and kale smoothie.
We got free samples of a chocolate banana smoothie.
The bill was $12.01, or $6.005/person, plus tip.
JM and Nichole both gave Smoothie King a B (see our grading rubric).

From the moment we walked into Smoothie King's realm we felt like we had to be working harder, much harder, to be perfect. Protein powder kegs line the walls; meal-replacement smoothies beef up the menu. Smoothie King might serve sweet cold blended drinks ostensibly like its chipper chill cousin Jamba Juice and fun fruit-forward friend Fresh Cool Drinks, or almost any coffee house in town. But here smoothies are no sideline, they are The Way: it's smoothie-Pelagianism, pure and simple.

Smoothie King

The menu is indeed packed with vegetable and fruit options, superfruit add-ins and protein boosts that could provide endless science-y tweaks to each cup. That said, the staff were normal, friendly people, and not so obsessed with fitness that they didn't offer us a tasty sample of a chocolate-banana concoction while we waited (very briefly) for our beginner's smoothies, even though we moseyed in just obnoxious moments before closing time.

Nichole's carrot kale deal was cool and refreshing; JM's sweet, creamy strawberry kiwi was standard if a little less fruity probably because of the other mix-ins.  It was certainly something he would get again, however.

So, even if it is a little law-heavy, Smoothie King is also where you get your Super Weight Gain 2000 ("for the hard gainers") and admonishments to drink your vegetables from hippies ("since 1973"). Fair enough.

NEWS

Madison Food coverOur book Madison Food: A History of Capital Cuisine is out. More about it here. Read it for free thanks to the library - print & ebook, or read an excerpt on Carson Gulley and some bonus bits on Porchlight, Argus, Sunshine Supper, and Babcock.


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