As we alerted you last year, chef and restaurateur Michael Mina was looking to expand his local empire further, and he'll be doing it with acclaimed sushi chef Ken Tominaga, who owns Rohnert Park-based Hana Japanese Restaurant.
Mina hasn't opened a new restaurant in S.F. since Bourbon Steak in 2010 and reopening Michael Mina in the former Aqua space later that year, and his latest is pair of Japanese restaurants called Pabu and The Ramen Bar. The two downtown restaurants mark a move into fairly straightforward Japanese cuisine following two decades of Mina's personal style of fine dining, which has always embraced Japanese flavors.
Pabu is the higher-end, sushi and izakaya concept that Mina tested out first at the Four Seasons in Baltimore the last couple years (it closed earlier this month), and here he'll be adding the expertise of Tominaga, who studied at Akasaka Cooking School in Tokyo.
The space at the base of 101 California, which has been vacant for years now, includes a big central bar with a new cocktail program by Michael Mina bar manager Carlo Splendorini, and tons of seating, with a 76-seat dining room, plus a sushi bar, plus an 80-seat lounge, and patio tables. Here's the full dinner menu, which includes small plates and robata grill items in the range of $6 to $16, nigiri sushi in the $7 to $20 range for two pieces, and entrees in the $22 to $34 range, with a baller's plate of American Wagyu and lobster running you $52.
For more casual slurping and lunching, The Ramen Bar is also open right next door with an additional 56 seats, offering donburi bowls, Japanese-inspired salads, and four main ramen options all with clean, non-porky broths: braised pork belly, Tokyo roast chicken, crab and shrimp dumpling, and mushroom and tofu, with gluten-free noodles available too. See that menu here, and note they will also open at 8 a.m. for coffee and pastry service.
These mark Mina's fourth and fifth restaurants in the Bay Area, which also includ RN74, and his 18th and 19th restaurants in the country. Later this year, he'll also be opening a Bourbon Steak & Pub at the new 49ers stadium in Santa Clara. Read more about him and his prolific career in this recent SF Weekly cover story.
Pabu and The Ramen Bar open today for happy hour and dinner, with all-day and lunch service launching July 28. Dinner hours are Sunday to Thursday, 5:30 to 10 p.m., and Friday and Saturday, 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. Eventually, this will be an all-day, seven-day-a-week operation, with the bar and Ramen Bar open throughout the day.