Pabu Grill and Sake sets our evening with a warm welcome. A narrow dining front area leads to a quiet day lit room sectioned room. Mellow but up beat tunes set for a relaxed atmosphere not so loud that you can't have a conversation but not so quiet where you could almost hear the crickets.
Our waiter was friendly and inviting, allowing us to browse the large menu, but also giving a description on how the dishes are arranged and offering suggestions if we were stuck.
This evening is about freshness, crisp flavours married perfectly to enhance your palate which leaves you wanting more.
To begin the Buta Gyoza and Pabu Famous Watori Kari Maki. The gyoza was filled with a succulent, juicy pork inside a soft dumpling coating with a golden crisp base served with a spiced ponzu sauce. Now you know that I always have Gyoza and theres a reason why....... there awesome! There little gems of pleasure and I have to say that the flavours in this gyoza were well balanced and what was great was that they didn't fall apart like most do. You could enjoy each bite with out the pork dropping out or the dumpling break into pieces. Perfect and one of the best I think I have to say.
The Watori Kari maki sushi roll was filled with soft shell crab, avocado and cucumber with a scattered coating of toasted sesame and finished with a flying fish roe and mayo. Fresh and soft flavours combined to make for a delicate pleasure. Everything in this roll is supposed to be there, there is nothing out of place here. Crab is highlighted through each piece perfectly and freshened with the hints of avocado and cucumber with bursts of roe.
To follow was some Renkon chips and the Gyu Tataki. Renkon chips are a delightful pub dish if you are downing those sake's or beer's. Golden crisp lotus root chips are addictive and tasty.
The Gyu Tataki of seared porterhouse beef coated in toasted sesame, spring onion and red ginger nestled in wasabi mayo and a garlic, ginger and citrus sauce packed a punch of flavours. Slight hints of spice wakened the taste buds but not so much that it over loaded the taste from the beef. A well balanced flavoured dish fresh and vibrant ginger added a depth of flavour to the meat and balanced out the strong garlic notes in the sauce.
A dish that won my heart was the glorious Unagi Kabayaki. Normally when I order eel I receive about 4 - 6 small slices of which you have to battle the rest of the family for. Here, theres no problem about sharing. This large fillet of perfect mouth watering grilled eel is glazed with a sweet sauce and coated with sesame. It's tender and falls apart, the flavour is outstanding and this dish a lone is what's going to make me return. Unbelievable.
The Takayaki of Octopus pancake balls served with a Japanese mayo, spring onions, sesame and red ginger finished off with shredded bonito were tasty morsels. Soft pancakes delivered a octopus flavour and balanced with the sweet mayo and fresh ginger and spring onion. They were firmer than the ones I've had at other places which I liked a lot more. It was a much better texture and I think it helped hold the flavours it was delivering.
The last couple of dishes were also a highlight of our night and are a must have along with the Unagi when dining here.
First is the Yaki Buta. Pan fried juicy fall apart pork belly coated delicately in a light soy and served on a bed of herb soy tossed mixed salad and finished with fried leeks. All I can do is drool like Homer Simpson right now as I remember such succulence. Truly amazing flavours bought through the pork and fresh salad.
The other was the Piri Kara Maguro Maki. Fresh tuna rolls with fresh cucumber, avocado, seaweed and flying fish roe finished with what I found out was a special hot sauce that no one will ever know apart from the Chef and owner. Amazing is all i can say. Delightful bursts of fresh flavours and pops of heat from the tiniest drop of red sauce. Almost looking Christmassy when it arrives, it's looks are decieving. I was not expecting such boldness from this dish, it blew me out of the water and really bought amazement and a smile to my face when eating.
A finishing plate of Dessert Moriawase was the only way to conclude our evening. A dessert selection platter with green tea ice cream, black sesame ice cream, lemon and Japanese citrus ice cream and also a Cherry blossom and kuromame rice cake. A refreshing plate to finish with a friend if you're about to burst at the seams.
My favourite was the cherry blossom rice cake and the black sesame ice cream. But everything on this plate was a delight and was a great sampler of everything.
The night was filled with amazing flavours and the menu delivered everything that you would expect from a Izakaya. The host and owner Koha Ngugen has truly put his heart and soul into Pabu and is destined to continue delivering the very best Japanese styled tapas with beautiful refreshing sake, cocktails and beers to make for the perfect social evening.
We will be returning with friends in tow next time maybe to test out the set menu with matching sake to make for an even more fun filled evening.
It's moden, sassy and best of all enjoyable. What more could you ask for?
Pabu Grill & Sake
190 Smith Street