Modern Izakaya with Michael Mina at Pabu

After reading about Pabu, Michael Mina’s newest San Francisco venture with Chef Ken Tominaga back in April, I couldn’t wait to try it! It just so happened that I was able to score a reservation for my (then) upcoming August trip through OpenTable before they opened on July 1st. Just in that month, I had heard such great things about the location, service, ambience, and cuisine. It was probably a little risky choosing a new and hyped restaurant for my birthday dinner, instead of an old favorite, but I’m sure glad I did!

We started out with their classic Kaiso Seaweed Salad served with hand-ground sweet sesame dressing. Sometimes, an Izakaya-take on seaweed salad means that they serve several kinds of seaweed. While I like the variety, I was glad that they chose to stick to the classic seaweed and sesame flavors.

Fortunately for us, there was room at the sushi bar, so we got to enjoy seeing the sushi chefs prepare the Tasting Menu for others. We didn’t do this because I wanted to try other options, but I have heard rave reviews and witnessed the artistry that goes into crafting each and every course. It was an experience in it of itself to witness. To get our sashimi fix, we ordered the 10 Fish Sashimi Platter. The presentation was gorgeous and the selection was delectable. From Tuna to Amberjack to Mackerel, we had a nice balance of flavors and consistencies.

Next, and my favorite dish of the evening, we enjoyed the Monterey Squid Okonomiyaki. This was one of the Hot Small Plates on the Dinner menu. The pork belly and squid patty was topped with a sunny-side up egg and bonito. If I could eat this day, I would be one happy gal. The combination of flavors was absolutely amazing and the best example of “everything is better with an egg on it.”

Steven and I don’t usually get sushi rolls that have any “cooked” or “baked” aspect to them. We made an exception at the urging of our waitress and ordered the Crispy Spicy Roll. Filled with yellowtail, amberjack, scallions, and tobiko, the warmth of the roll and the spiciness of the sauce was a great combination.

Lastly, we finished off our meal with a classic Spider Roll. Filled with soft shell crab, kaiware, tobiko, and spicy mayo, this was the best Spider Roll I have ever had. The crab was cooked to perfection and provided the perfect crunch in each oversized bite.

I can’t wait to visit SF again, so I can try their luxurious Tasting Menu and more of their Izakaya options. With mentions on and, Michael Mina has another winner on his hands. Pabu is quickly becoming FiDi staple and the praises will continue to roll in! Be sure to visit Mina’s The Ramen Bar directly next door to check out Chef Ken’s signature Tokyo-style ramen recipes.
For more information on Pabu, visit

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