Chef and restaurateur Michael Mina recently made his debut in Japanese cuisine with the opening of Pabu at the Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore. For this new culinary venture, Mina teamed up with Japanese native Ken Tominaga, the chef and owner of Hana Japanese Restaurant in Sonoma County, Calif.
The dining concept is based on an izakaya, or a Japanese pub (hence the name “Pabu,” a phonetic translation). But with its bamboo-embellished dining room and highbrow Japanese menu—composed of dishes like broiled freshwater eel with foie gras, soy sauce, and sesame seeds; and beef skewers doused in a citrus- and soy-based marinade; to name a few—Pabu is anything but pub-like.
The bar, however, is a central part of the dining experience. The traditional Japanese whiskey ceremony, for instance, includes four rare Japanese whiskeys presented in individual handcrafted ice spheres and served with aromatic food pairings, such as roasted bananas and vanilla, to bring forth the natural flavors of the spirit. There is also an ample selection of wines, beers, and cocktails, and a resident sake sommelier can choose from more than 100 sakes to pair with your meal. (410.223.1460, www.fourseasons.com)