Those of you who know me well, know for a fact that I am truly clueless where cooking is concerned. After all, I don’t say I’m hopelessly undomestic for nothing! I’m also a notoriously picky eater, both because of general lifelong Goddess-y-ness, and because of self-imposed dietary restrictions [I’m what they call a Pescetarian, which basically means I don’t eat anything that can chase me down the street LOL].
Given all of my pre-conditions to enjoying a meal, I’m always on the lookout for places that could satisfy both my gourmet taste –okay, call it pickiness––, and my narrow choices when it comes to food. Believe it or not, fresh, well-prepared sushi has always managed to satisfy both… so when my friend Ann Tran asked me if I was willing to try a new Japanese hotspot in my own city, of course I was in!
The restaurant in question, PABU (@PABUizakaya), just opened at the new Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore, and in a short time has managed to create a pretty good buzz for itself around the city. With good reason, I’d say: just look at that view!
Beyond the breathtaking outdoor space, the management comes with a pretty impressive pedigree: Chef Michael Mina (@chefmichaelmina) is an award-winning American celebrity chef, restaurateur, and cookbook author with namesake restaurants in San Francisco and Las Vegas. Chef Ken Tominaga (@Benkei0303) is the celebrated chef/owner of the Hana Japanese Restaurant in Northern California.
Last Tuesday evening, when a group of my dear social media friends including Sean Gardner (@2morrownight), Ann Tran (@AnnTran_), Lisa Floresca Shapiro (@diningdc), Claudia B Soares (@claudiabia), and Monica Sethi (@ebuzzedge), came to Pabu, both chefs and all-around cool guy @Patric_Yumul [President of Mina Group] offered us THE true Goddess treatment: a 7-course far-east culinary journey featuring the very best their kitchen can offer.
Dinner started with what I’d pick as my favorite: the Happy Spoon, a delightful concoction that truly lives up to its name: raw local oyster [best in America!], crème fraîche, fresh uni and two different types of fish. They paired that with Narutori Junmai Gingjo Nama Genshu [try saying that three times fast] a full-bodied, dry sake that truly makes the Happy Spoon’s subtle flavors and textures do cartwheels in your mouth.
Following the Sakizuke course, in came a parade of delightful dishes, each more delicious than the last. Though I can’t pronounce most of the names [note to self: learn Japanese], I love the fact that Chef Mina, Chef Tominaga, Patric Yumul and the whole staff went out of their way to make sure our plates were all delicious, our glasses were never dry… and most important for me, that I truly got the dishes I could –and was willing to –eat. They even modified the night’s menu for me!
Among the night’s many highlights, a special mention goes to Tiffani Dawn Soto (@Heysakelady), who peppered our evening with equal amounts of perfect sake pairings and geekylicious trivia to go with it. Tiffani, who by the way, is one of only five Certified Master Educators and Sake Sommelier in the US [and the first woman ever], also leads the restaurant’s Sake Workshops. Even if I didn’t mention this, just take a look at her ink… how cool is she?
By the time we got to the plummy brightness of the Aoki Junmai Ginjo Umezake [the sake accompanying the Sesame Butter Bon Bon, Honey Panacotta and other assorted deserts], we were all neck-deep in the Baltimorean version of Japanese heaven. After having tried sushi restaurant after sushi restaurant over the last 4years of living in Maryland, I can honestly say this is by far the most fun your tastebuds will be having in the whole Charm city area… especially if you’re a goddess-y, lifelong finicky-eater, like me.