Well what with extravagances the weekend prior and more to come I decided I wanted to try Pabu on Smith Street.
I liked the bar feel of Pabu and the giant abacus on the ceiling. I'd seen this before but couldn't remember where. We were shown to a table for two towards the back of the restaurant with a view of the long bar.
There's lots of choice and at first it seemed easier to perhaps go with the Chef's Banquet so we did but we ordered an extra dish or two that we fancied trying and I'm glad we did as one of them was the dish of the night!
Hamachi Sashimi - Thinly sliced fresh king fish with jalapeños & yuzu (citrus) soy sauce
Opening up we started with two options we love at Nobu. First impressions are good. The dishes are appetising and attractive. I'm not entirely convinced by the fluorescent strips of pickled ginger not being a fan. The slices of the meat and the fish are thicker and generally larger than that of Nobu and yes, the dishes lack that visual elegance. However the gyu tataki is half the price at Pabu and the kingfish a good $9 cheaper so expectations need to take this into account.
We enjoyed the "steakiness" of the gyu tataki. The kingfish is also a winner and enjoyable. Both don't surpass Nobu but they're not meant to. These are like the homely versions. I think the citrus soy used lacks that zing of citrus though and that spike could elevate the dishes. Also my personal preference is for coriander to go with the kingfish and not the pickled ginger but that's because I love coriander but don't like pickled ginger.
But so far so good...
Sake Aburi Sashimi - Slices of salmon lightly seared with hot sesame oil, ponzu soy, ginger, spring onion & roasted sesame
Maguro and Salmon Salad - Fresh tuna & salmon topped with rocket salad tossed in sesame soy served with our chef's secret spicy sauce & mayo
Again loved the thick slices of fish and the fact that the servings are so generous. And again, didn't like the use of the pickled ginger.
The salad, which was the extra dish we ordered, didn't have the ginger and was enjoyed even more so to the extent that Steve proclaimed it the dish of the night and so original it was unlike anything he'd had ever. And I have to agree that this one dish demonstrated creativity whereas the other sashimi dishes were either a replica of a traditional dish such as the gyu tataki or following the styles of trailblazer dishes now made classic by the likes of Nobu.
The sesame tones and the fruity sweetness of the secret sauce lifted the richness of the chunks of tuna and salmon.
Mix Nigiri Sushi - Assorted nigiri sushi (fish on rice)
Buta Gyoza - Juicy pan-fried pork dumplings with spicy ponzu sauce
The mixed sushi was as expected and pretty run of the mill. The gyoza looked like other gyozas but we had to admit they were particularly good.
The skewers were good enough. Well seasoned, tender and no gristle.
We ended the meal with the dessert plate which consisted of ice cream - green tea. black sesame and yuzu sorbet as well some mochi which is ice cream wrapped in this sweet, chewy, doughy sweetened outer layer like a thick dim sum wrapper.
The ice creams are smooth and flavoursome. I like the toastiness of the black sesame one. The yuzu sorbet is a bit lemon cheesy with that yoghurty tang. Not unpleasant at all but unusual. I usually love mochi but I don't like melon and sadly these were melon flavoured so fell into the don't like camp.
We enjoyed Pabu's offering and it represents good value for money. It's not earth shatteringly good or original but it's a good neighbourhood restaurant and if you're in the area and fancy Japanese, it's not a bad option for you at all.