A new izakaya restaurant named Pabu just opened last week in the city’s Financial District (FiDi). It’s being commanded by experienced chefs Michael Mina and Ken Tominaga. Utilizing Tominaga’s knowledge in Japanese style cuisine and Mina’s experience in a multitude of successful restaurants, both chefs sought to fuse their culinary philosophies and create a modern approach to izakaya cuisine. Based on the unique menu offerings and considerable amount of media buzz leading up to the restaurant’s opening, we visited the establishment on its second day of operations. Below is a summary of our dining experience.
Interior And Exterior
Tomoe Gozen hakushu 12 yr whisky, coriander liqueur, fernet branca, lavender piercing – 13
Chicken Wing Tebasaki,Sansho Shio Tare Glaze, Lemon – 7
Shrimp And Scallop Dumpling Soup Hon Shimeji – 9
Ken’s Roll Shrimp Tempura, Avocado, Spicy Tuna, Furikake – 7 Sea Urchin Uni – 14
The Sea Urchin arrived as two small pieces of Uni, seaweed wrap, and rice. The uni tasted fresh and contained its distinct ocean brininess. However, for the cost we were expecting either a greater amount effort in the dish or greater quantity of Uni.
Miso Black Cod Mustard Seeds, Summer Beans – 32
Saké Roll Cake Sake Roll Cake Yuzu Curd, Strawberry, Coconut – 8 Cherry Sorbet Sparkling Sake, Almond, Shiso – 6
The cherry sorbet dessert arrived as a small bowl of nectarine wedges, cherry bits, and scoop of cherry flavored sorbet. As the server poured saké over the bowl’s ingredients, it bubbled over the sorbet and gave the liquid an effervescent mouthfeel. The cherry sorbet and saké concoction contributed a rich fresh cherry flavor to the overall dessert and paired well with the fruit pieces.
There was a noticeable amount of enthusiasm and energy seen in the hostesses, wait staff, cooks and chefs. Michael Mina seemed focused directing kitchen staff and coordinating with other employees. Food was delivered quickly and our waitress was friendly, prompt, and seemed to have a confident knowledge of the menu.
Our food’s high quality marinated meats, flawless robata grilling style, and significant balance of flavors reflected a high level of knowledge, effort, and attention to detail. Surprisingly, in only the second day of opening, Mina and Tominaga’s restaurant seemed refined and razor focused in creating a modern izakaya experience with an added urban hip vibe. With a bill of $125 (excluding tip), all this effort doesn’t come cheap but we think it’s worth the experience. Pabu’s intelligent food options, promising bar selections, and ultra modern ambiance should send a minor shockwave throughout FiDi’s somewhat lackluster restaurant scene.