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I'd like to explain to a butcher what cut of meat is required to make shabu shabu. Can anyone help me?

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up vote 7 down vote accepted

Very high fat, thoroughly marbled ribeye is a good start, but there's a fair amount of variation. The extremely thin slices are also not something that every butcher is accustomed to producing, but that should get you to the right beginning.

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I know little of shabu shabu, but if it is very thin slices and you don't have a full service butcher who can handle the job, you may want to do this: get the ribeye steak whole (boneless or remove meat from the bone yourself), then put in the freezer until it is very, very cold, but not frozen (an hour or two, probably). This will allow you, with a very sharp knife, to slice it very, very thin. I have used this method to make the worlds most decadent steak sandwiches. – SAJ14SAJ Jan 17 '13 at 23:46

Nearly any cut of meat will work, just adjust cooking time in stock (seconds to minutes)

The common cuts of beef are sirloin, topside, shank. Any meat with a decent fat content will do. Cut as thin as you dare. Chicken needs to be about 5 mm thick to hold together. Fish slices depend on fish variety

For beef, about one hour per 500 g (pound) in a domestic freezer is all you need to be able to slice it thinly

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Korean markets sell thinly sliced ribeye. Japanese markets sell thin cut meat for sukiyaki which you might be able to use.

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