Pabu is the Japanese pronunciation of pub and Japan’s version of pubs, aka izakayas, tend to be laid back, small quarters where the after work crowd can unwind with a few beers and some fried chicken and offal.
I wanted to find a memorable Japanese meal for Blaine’s birthday and I chose Pabu specifically for their vast sake offering. They even have a sake master, Stuart Morris (unfortunately he was out the night we went, but now we have good reason to return).
We started off the night with a bottle of the best sake we’ve ever had, Tsujizenbei Junmai Daiginjo Tobingakoi. It’s birthday time, you gotta go big, right? It was ridiculously good! Sake, like wine, is wonderfully complex. It has over 400 documented aroma and 600 flavor components.
Pabu’s sushi bar serves fresh fish from Tokyo’s Tsukiji Market. And you can’t get better fish than Tsukiji’s catch.
We ordered a few appetizers to accompany our ridiculously good sake. We sampled a tasting of robata, an array of slow grilled skewers including chicken meatballs, chicken thigh, wagyu beef, pork belly, and eringi mushroom. Next, we tried ikayaki, grilled squid, and chawanmushi, savory egg custard with shrimp, scallop, shiitake, and dashi. The squid was wonderfully tender (which was a relief because chewy squid is my nemesis).
For our entree, we shared the miso black cod. Yum. It was rich, but not overpowering and the sweet and savory miso flavor lingered on the tongue just long enough. We topped off the meal with huckleberry and chocolate filled Okinawa donuts (what more could you ask for?).
Beyond the upscale Japanese pub treats, Pabu’s sushi bar serves fresh fish from Tokyo’s Tsukiji Market. And you can’t get better fish than Tsukiji’s catch.
The space was elegant with high ceilings, cozy booths, and cherry blossom murals. It’s a great spot if you’re feeling fancy. Although, I will admit, I’m still on the lookout for a more laid back, traditional style izakaya in SF. So, if you know of one, please let me know.
For a taste of traditional Japan in a modern Japanese setting, try Pabu.