Review: Pabu.

I had first visited Pabu, a modern Japanese restaurant in San Francisco, this past summer when they opened. I really enjoyed the food at Pabu so I wanted to take Tommaso there so he could experience delicious Japanese food and high quality fish.

We rarely get to eat Japanese food back in Italy and when we do it’s not that great. All the Japanese restaurants I’ve tried in Italy don’t have high quality sushi grade fish and when they do, they have a very small selection of types of fish available.

What I like about Pabu is that their menu offers a variety of dishes from small cold and hot plates, robatayaki items, shabu shabu, nigiri sushi/sashimi/rolls, and entrées. However, since they offer numerous items it can be difficult deciding what to order. Therefore, they offer a tasting menu that consists of various nigiri sushi (that isn’t offered on the regular menu if you just want to try different types of fish) with some meat and a dessert. We decided to order several types of dishes from cold/hot appetizers and nigiri sushi.

Bar.

Bar.

DSC02259

Main Dining Room.

Sushi Bar.

Sushi Counter.

Yuzu Kanpachi with Pine Nuts and Fried Shallots (7/10).

Yuzu Kanpachi with Pine Nuts and Fried Shallots (7/10).

“Happy Spoon” Oyster with Uni, Ikura, Tobiko, and Ponzu Crème Fraîche (8.5-9/10).

Maitake Mushroom Tempura with Soy-Dashi Dipping Sauce (7/10).

Maitake Mushroom Tempura with Soy-Dashi Dipping Sauce (7/10).

Grilled Octopus with Potatoes, Mentaiko Mayo, and Fried Garlic (7.5/10).

Grilled Octopus with Potatoes, Mentaiko Mayonnaise, and Fried Garlic (7.5-8/10).

Pork Belly Skewer with Sansho Salt (6/10).

Pork Belly Skewer with Sansho Salt (6/10).

Kanpachi/Amberjack Nigiri (8/10), Hamachi/Yellowtail Nigiri (8/10), Hotate/Scallop Nigiri (8.5/10), Madai/Sea Bream Nigiri (8/10), Sake/Salmon Nigiri (7/10), and Botan Ebi/Spot Prawn Nigiri (8.5/10).

Kanpachi/Amberjack Nigiri (8/10), Hamachi/Yellowtail Nigiri (8/10), Hotate/Scallop Nigiri (8.5/10), Madai/Sea Bream Nigiri (8/10), Sake/Salmon Nigiri (7/10), and Botan Ebi/Spot Prawn Nigiri (8.5/10).

Fried Prawn Heads (7/10)

Fried Prawn Heads (7/10).

Unagi /Freshwater Eel (8/10).

Unagi/Freshwater Eel Nigiri (8.5/10).

Uni/Sea Urchin Nigiri (8/10),

Uni/Sea Urchin Nigiri (8.5/10), Masaba/Japanese Mackerel Nigiri (7.5/10), and Kohada/Gizzard Shad Nigiri (7/10).

Grilled Squid with Umami Shoyu, and Togarashi (8/10).

Grilled Squid with Umami Shoyu and Togarashi (7.5/10).

Fried Chicken

Fried Chicken “Karaage” with Spicy Mayonnaise (8/10).

Roll Cake with Yuzu Curd, Strawberry, and Coconut Ice Cream (7/10).

Roll Cake with Yuzu Curd, Strawberry, and Coconut Ice Cream (7/10).

Soy-Caramel Custard with Coffee Jelly and Sesame Candy (7.5/10).

Soy-Caramel Custard with Coffee Jelly and Sesame Candy (7.5/10).

Green Tea White Chocolate Mousse with Huckleberries and Sake Jam (7.5/10).

Green Tea White Chocolate Mousse with Huckleberries and Sake Jam (7.5/10).

Pabu is a great restaurant to share multiple items and to try new types of fish. My favorite dishes of the night were the “happy spoon” oyster, grilled octopus, and various nigiri sushi. The “happy spoon” oyster was the perfect bite of seafood deliciousness. Sweet yet briny oysters with creamy rich uni (sea urchin), tangy ponzu crème fraîche, and pops of saltiness from the tobiko (flying fish roe) and ikura (salmon roe). The grilled octopus was paired with baby potatoes, creamy mentaiko (pollock or cod roe) mayonnaise, and crispy sweet fried garlic, another winner. Lastly, the nigiri sushi was delicious; all the fish was extremely fresh, tender, and flavorful. Also the nigiri sushi was prepared correctly; a lot of the times when I eat nigiri sushi, the ratio of rice to fish is completely wrong (usually way too much rice, should be able to eat it the nigiri in one bite).

Overall, my second experience at Pabu was equally successful and therefore I’d give a rating of 8/10. Pabu is definitely worth trying once for a mixture of modern and traditional Japanese cuisine.

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