Khoa Nguyen is a man who takes his research seriously. Before opening Pabu ('pub' in Japanese), he took off to Japan, visiting the very best Michelin-starred restaurants to meet with top chefs. The result is a breath of fresh air to the Smith Street top end, a classic sushi bar by day, edgy Japanese dining by night.
A modern take on traditional Japanese interiors, Pabu was designed by EAT Architects (who also did Richmond's Maedaya). Hidden behind the central bar, amongst dark timber walls, the yakitori grill runs at full speed, chefs dishing up perfectly charred skewers of scallops with bacon, or asparagus spears wrapped in pork belly.
Alongside an excellent fresh sushi and sashimi offering are a few standout dishes. Must-try is the gyu tataki (thin slices of seared beef with wasabi mayo, sesame seeds and citrus soy) and the hamachi (sliced raw kingfish with ginger and jalapeños). To finish, dessert moriawase ('combination') features a rich green tea brûlée, black sesame ice cream and mochi, a gelatinous rice cake flavoured with melon.
Finally, it wouldn't be a Japanese pub without sake – ask the friendly waiters to recommend a match, or try a 'tasting flight' for a crash course.