PABU - San Francisco

4.6
817 reviews
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$31 to $50
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Japanese
Chef Ken Tominaga brings forth a modern take on traditional Izakaya-style dining with PABU - San Francisco. In partnership with Michael Mina this modern izakaya and sushi bar in downtown San Francisco is a dream brought to life for Tominaga and Mina. Located at the landmark 101 California space in San Francisco’s Financial District, PABU - San Francisco combines rustic, old-world Japanese charm with modern, urban sophistication to create a dynamic, social dining experience. Requests for the sushi bar cannot be guaranteed.
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Private dining
Dining Style
Casual Elegant
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Cuisines
Japanese, Sushi, Yakitori
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Hours of operation
Lunch
Mon–Fri 11:00 am–2:00 pm
Dinner
Mon–Fri 5:00 pm–10:00 pm
Sat 5:30 pm–10:00 pm
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Phone number
(415) 668-7228
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Payment options
AMEX, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
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Dress code
Casual Dress
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Executive chef
Ken Tominaga
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Catering
PABU is available for catering requests. Please contact our event's department for further details.
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Cross street
Front Street
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Parking details
Valet parking is offered Monday through Saturday beginning at 5:30pm on California Street. Street parking and various parking garages are located throughout the Financial District.
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Public transit
Bart station is located conveniently on Market and Davis Streets. Muni is located at Market and Geary Streets.
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Entertainment
The music at PABU - San Francisco is inspired by Quentin Tarantino soundtracks. Retro cool tracks set in a modern context, the music at PABU - San Francisco serves to create energy in the room.
Additional
Banquet, Bar Dining, Bar/Lounge, Beer, BYO Wine, Chef's Table, Full Bar, Happy Hour, Outdoor dining, Private Room, Wine

Private Dining

PABU - San Francisco can accommodate your party, large or small and can host special events for either lunch or dinner and is available to reserve in its entirety. One of our Event Manager's will assist in seamlessly planning your special event.

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What 817 People Are Saying
Overall ratings and reviews
Reviews can only be made by diners who have eaten at this restaurant
4.6based on recent ratings
4.5
food
4.3
service
4.4
ambience
3.8
value
Noise · Moderate
85% of people would recommend it to a friend
5
4
3
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1
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C
San Diego
17 reviews
Dined 3 days ago
Overall 3food 5service 2ambience 5

Service was horrendous, took forever to get everything we ordered. The drink that I decided to order witch I ended up loving, couldn’t order the second one because they ran out of some ingredient. Overall not coming back.

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F
New York Area
24 reviews
Dined 6 days ago
Overall 4food 5service 5ambience 5

We had a 2pm reservation and When we got there shortly before 2pm, we were told the restaurant closes at 2pm and had to rush our order because the kitchen was closing. We were only able to order a few things because we felt rushed. It’s unfortunate that we couldn’t try more food on the menu Although our experience was limited, everything we ordered was fresh, nicely presented and delicious. We had the unagi, tuna collar and hamachi nigiri for appetizers and shared the large plate of scallops and black cod (pictured below).

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P
1 review
Dined 7 days ago
Overall 3food 4service 4ambience 2

Arrived for a business lunch. Despite reserving 24h earlier with OpenTable, whereas my name was on their system and the table confirmed, they had nothing available. Got shoved into a corner of the restaurant trying to have a business lunch on a couch. Somewhere between OpenTable and Pabu the system broke down entirely - needless to say I would not rely on this again.

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PY
San Francisco
6 reviews
Dined on September 17, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 4

Was greeted immediately, seated right away (I had a reservation), service was as attentive as they could be, with a busy lunch crowd. The rolls were delicious.

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r
San Francisco
5 reviews
Dined on September 15, 2018
Overall 4food 5service 3ambience 4

Have been going to Pabu for about 5 years now and have always loved it. Have always sat at the lounge side with same server who looks part afraican America/Asian, who has always been amazing. Had a new server this time who seemed bored but was ok. This past time was first time sitting at a booth for two people and I gotta say they are horrible. Only one person gets to fit properly by the table. The other sits a good 15 to 20 inches from the table, super uncomfortable!!

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TL
1 review
Dined on September 13, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

Everything we ordered was great except for the cod which was somewhat dry and lacking in flavor.

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PB
1 review
Dined on September 13, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 4

Fabulous fish, fun ambiance, great service. One of the finest Japanese restaurants I have ever been too. Can get noisy

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P
San Francisco
68 reviews
Dined on September 13, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

Been to Pabu a few times before---first time for my friend. We had an a la carte dinner--tasting menus also available. Pabu offers very fresh seafood & sushi plus some meat dishes. We shared miso black cod (melt in your mouth), seaweed salad and a variety of nigiri--all excellent. We arrived at 5:30 for our 5:45 dinner reservation-- vibrant happy hour happening then. I would go back for happy hour (4-6)--offer special drinks and appetizers--very busy with bar stools and some tables including outdoor Plaza seating. Dining area is more quiet.

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OT
New York Area
4 reviews
Dined on September 12, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 3

Too loud. Little “sticky” as far as table etc given the prices.
Not staffs fault but so busy service wasn’t great.

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SL
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on September 10, 2018
Overall 3food 3service 3ambience 3

the restaurant charged us incorrectly for drinks; not worth my time to go back but disappointed.

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v
San Francisco
35 reviews
Dined on September 9, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 5

Did the Omakase menu. Food was excellent with some unique options for sushi. Not everything was a unanimous hit, but most were. It was quite expensive, though. Pretty easy to find parking in the area and valet is an option.

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OT
Central Coast
6 reviews
Dined on September 8, 2018
Overall 3food 3service 3ambience 3

Food it’s okay
Service a bit slow
Noise level too loud
Can’t hear each other

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E
Los Angeles
3 reviews
Dined on September 2, 2018
Overall 5food 4service 5ambience 5

The food was well presented and delicious! The sushi was great quality and there was a large variety of fresh fish and rolls from which to choose. We were a large group and appreciated such an extensive menu of sushi/sashimi as well as cooked appetizers, robata skewers and entrees. We were very fortunate to be sitting in a lovely semi-private room. There was ample room for our party of 9 and with just enough privacy so that everyone could hear each other speak without shouting. The service was wonderful too!

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OT
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on August 31, 2018
Overall 1food 3service 1ambience 2

The server pushed us to order Toro as a special. She neglected to tell us it was $40 each. At lunchtime. On top of the full bill we paid for other starters and the main courses. #SanFranciscoRidiculousness

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OT
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on August 31, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 3

Came for a birthday celebration. The food was okay for the price—not bad, but nothing memorable. Our server was very friendly, but the food came out noticeably slowly even whilst having a conversation. The noise level is pretty high, so I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this place for a special occasion. Overall OK!

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SC
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on August 26, 2018
Overall 3food 5service 5ambience 5

The food was really good but the check surprised all of us and it was outrageously expensive, more than $250 per person.

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OT
Phoenix
1 review
Dined on August 25, 2018
Overall 3food 2service 2ambience 2

This place was a pretty big disappointment.... The food was extremely average

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AS
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on August 24, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

I'd read reviews that PABU was overpriced for what it delivers, but I didn't find it so. Its prices are fairly typical for San Francisco, and if the bill adds up, it was worth every penny. The sushi was good, but what makes PABU outstanding were the small plates. The PABU chef must have a real talent for sauces and flavor combinations. A few days later, I'm still thinking with pleasure about the miso-marinated black cod, not just because of the cod, but because of the extraordinary smoky broth it was in and the flavor that gave the clams. Ditto the oysters. I love oysters, and I have to say the oysters I had at PABU were better -- creamier, and more flavorful -- than the same oysters I had at Hog Island the day before. I usually prefer oysters plain (no vinaigrettes, no sauces) but these oysters had the smallest amount additional flavor (a tiny bit of daikon, a tiny bit of chili, a tiny bit of ponzu). Something I'd never had before, something small and perfect.
The sake list is incredible, and because they provide short descriptions for each one on the menu ("pear, apples, lilac" or "cedar, hay, cooked cherries") it's fun to experiment. The only thing the sake list doesn't tell you is whether the sakes are sweeter or drier, so you'll have to ask if you have a preference. But the sommeliers are all friendly and helpful and steered us toward some fantastic sakes, that weren't particularly expensive. (Not cheap, but not more than we'd have spent on a bottle of nice California wine at another restaurant.)
The restaurant is lively and a bit loud, but we had a booth and I was surprised to find that the noise wasn't a problem.

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MP
San Francisco
7 reviews
Dined on August 22, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

Good food and service, but way too expensive for what was supposed to be a casual dinner. The total check for 2 people was $300 NOT including service - and we only had one carafe of cheap sake (half bottle) shared in 2. I don’t have issues to invest money in food that deserves it, but definitely there are other Japanese restaurants in SF with better quality of food for at least half the price. Michael Mina adds the marketing cost directly into your pocket. Food was fine, but not worth it to come back.

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L
Indiana
9 reviews
Dined on August 19, 2018
Overall 5food 4service 5ambience 5

Excellent diverse menu. Somewhat smaller size sushi than I’ve seen at home.

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m
1 review
Dined on August 18, 2018
Overall 3food 4service 2ambience 5

Excellent food but the service was very disorganized

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OT
San Francisco
11 reviews
Dined on August 15, 2018
Overall 2food 2service 3ambience 4

Good but not great dinner. It was particularly disappointing for the price. For $500 for two, I'd have expected awesome, if not the best sushi I've had, but the uni tasted off- not particularly fresh, and some of the other fish was similarly meh. IMO, Aikikos and Robin are far better choices for real Japanese food/ sushi aficionados.

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OT
New York Area
5 reviews
Dined on August 14, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Staff amazing -
I did the tasting menu with the sucky pairing and it was extraordinary

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S
Tahoe
1 review
Dined on August 12, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Food was was amazing and service was delightful. All the staff were very attentive and personable. Food was not only amazing for the palette but for the eyes toooo.

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B
San Francisco
72 reviews
Dined on August 12, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Sake and fish just wonderful!!!

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OT
1 review
Dined on August 11, 2018
Overall 4food 5service 5ambience 4

Very good!

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y
New York Area
27 reviews
Dined on August 10, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

We went for dinner with my family during our visiting SF. It was our first time to visit this restaurant but we were all very happy with their appetizers, sushi, Yakitori and their selections of beer & wine! Strongly recommended for any occasion!!

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KG
San Francisco
8 reviews
Dined on August 8, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

I'm blessed to live near Ken Tominaga's Sonoma County restaurant, Hana Japanese Restaurant and regularly indulge in his culinary delights and his curated list of small batch sakes which he imports and showcases at his restaurants. I had a wonderful date this week at Pabu SF and was blessed to find Ken-san in the house and serving up his magical culinary alchemy. Words do not do justice to his talents for both imaginative and traditional Japanese food and drink nor to his passion for quality and exceptional hospitality. He spoiled us with special treats including an amazing heirloom tomato salad - his take on a burrata and tomato salad with nori chips and tofu cream instead of cheese - truly exquisite! You really can't go wrong on their menu whether you choose sushi, robatayaki or splurge on the most delicious wagyu I've ever put in my mouth! His culinary offering is paired with equally imaginative and delicious cocktails and an impressive offering of special sakes, wines and spirits. My mouth is still watering as I type this review and remember my divine experience of a few nights ago. We will be back :)

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JN
San Francisco
2 reviews
Dined on August 8, 2018
Overall 2food 4service 3ambience 3

Very expensive for what you get. Also had many service mishaps...several times food was brought to our table that we did not order. Also very loud for a business meal.

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M
Palm Springs
5 reviews
Dined on August 3, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Nothing short of AMAZING! Be sure to try the seared Ahi!

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SD
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on August 2, 2018
Overall 5food 4service 5ambience 5

The cocktails, sake, service, and tapas/izakaya style dishes were phenomenal. Maki did not impress; they would have been indistinguishable from my neighborhood sushi joint at 40% the price. Karaage had too much inedible gristle, and while it was very delicious overall, that’s the kind of detail that shouldn’t be allowed to distract from the dish at this price point.

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OT
San Francisco
2 reviews
Dined on July 30, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Love Pabu! Great food, great service.
One tiny improvement opportunity: lower the music level at lunch time, it can get loud.

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S
San Francisco
153 reviews
Dined on July 29, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

It’s my only place for sushi/sashimi. Tried the yakitori and it’s getting much better too. The pork fried rice is everyone’s favorite but I like the kushi oysters to start the evening. It’s not cheap, but what comes out of the kitchen/Sushi bar is top notch.

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OT
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on July 27, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Amazing food!

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H
Los Angeles
29 reviews
Dined on July 21, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 5

My second time here was for dinner with a friend at the sushi bar. We had the tasting menu with the “luxury” add-on. (Not really the same as omakase.) Everything was very tasty and the sushi chef sauced the sushi. The reason for not having five stars is because of the size of the slices of fish. They’re about one half to maybe two thirds the size of of most other sushi restaurants around the world that are highly rated. Great service by everyone and nice casual yet refined atmosphere but you can’t slice either of those.

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PB
Salt Lake City
1 review
Dined on July 18, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Fantastic attention and service from the manager. There was a glitch on one of our orders and Pabu went above and beyond to make sure they made up for the issue and they did so many times over.

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k
San Francisco
22 reviews
Dined on July 18, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Incredible food. Way too noisy.

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OT
New York Area
1 review
Dined on July 17, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Omakase was fabulous

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GT
San Francisco
2 reviews
Dined on July 14, 2018
Overall 4food 5service 4ambience 3

Sushi was excellent (super fresh) and service was very friendly and attentive. Unfortunately, the design of the restaurant resembled chain restaurant without a cohesive theme (sort of like Japanese mixed with Olive Garden) and the noise level was high.

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OT
1 review
Dined on July 12, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Great food and ambiance!

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