My radar for new restaurant openings has been a little off lately, which is probably not the best admission for a local food blogger. The end of the year was crazy busy and the beginning of the year not the best, but now I am back on the Boston scene and ready to delve right back into what I love best, which is eating and writing about food and wine within our continually flourishing Boston culinary scene.
Last week on a bitterly cold Monday I suggested to my friend, Karen we try Pabu Izakaya in the new Millennium Tower in Downtown Crossing. Pabu brings superstar Chef Michael Mina to Boston with this high-end and chic Japanese restaurant. We were meeting early – around 5.30pm so managed to get a reservation, which I am hearing are tough to come by.
I walked into the Millennium Tower and found myself in a dark vestibule with an elevator. Press 2 and the doors open up into a soothing, dark, lantern filled lounge. The immediate feel is welcoming casual but with an elegant, swanky atmosphere. You feel important the second you step off the elevator.
The bar area and restaurant itself was quiet this early but soon filled up to a wait for tables by around 7.30pm. Very impressive for a Monday evening. The narrower lounge area has seating along the bar and red high top booth seating opposite. Along the windows there are high cocktail tables behind a screen, which bring a more intimate, almost clandestine feel. The restaurant has an open floor plan of tables, highlighting the chef station at the end.
Instead of sitting at our reserved table we opted for the bar. Menus were handed over and we were instantly overwhelmed by the choices of hot and cold small plates, skewers, hot pots, steaks, sushi and the lists go on and on. We had to do drinks first before deciding anything, which led to another dilemma with their extensive list of Sake, which I always think I want. Who I am kidding, I am a complete novice when it comes to Sake so I picked what I know best, wine. Given I knew I would probably end up with some sort of spicy roll I opted for a glass of Romain Riverdy Sancerre. The only mild disappointment of the evening is that they barely pour a half glass of wine, which at $16 seems wrong to me. This certainly didn’t change how I feel about my overall experience.
We decided on sharing and settled a few things with an open mind to possibly getting more food.
The Spicy Edamame is superb with a brilliant sweet kick of spice from the caramelized soy and Japanese spice blend known as shichimi.
Our next bite was the Ahi Tuna Poke. A delicate dish of sushi grade tuna blended perfectly with mild Japanese onion and roe. Pop a fork full of tuna onto a crisp and you need to shut your eyes for a moment to savor.
Given it was still early and we were not dinner hungry we picked some rolls to share. While both were outstandingly good, my favorite of the two was the Spicy Yellowtail. With six pieces each we found ourselves more than satisfied with our dinner. While no more food was ordered we did sit at the bar and enjoyed another glass of wine each while we watched the incoming flow of people.
Pabu is simply marvelous in food, atmosphere and service. I honestly cannot wait to go back to try the broader menu and perhaps even dabble in a bit of Sake.
A must try!