The rumors were true: as Bite Club Eats initially reported, Michael Mina is about to embark on his fifth San Francisco project, and this time, he's going Japanese. According to Inside Scoop, Mina and longtime pal Ken Tominaga, who owns Hana Japanese Restaurant in Rohnert Park, plan to open a San Francisco branch of their izakaya concept, Pabu, which debuted in Baltimore's Four Seasons Hotel last year. They decided to take the gigantic space at 101 California, which, at over 10,000 square feet, has lent itself to a sister spinoff, Ramen Market.
Pabu is the more upscale of the two concepts, incorporating both a sushi bar and an izakaya-style robata grill. Unlike the Baltimore location, the San Francisco branch will also offer shabu-shabu, and it'll also have a significant bar component, with 30-40 seats (compared to the dining room's 90). All in all, it sounds an awful lot like nearby Roka Akor, which could be a good or bad thing, depending on your perspective. Here's the menu for the Baltimore location, if you want to check it out; it got solid reviews from both the Washington Post and the Washingtonian, and made the James Beard longlist for Best New Restaurant this year.
The space is large enough to allow for a 20-seat heated patio and a garden, but Mina isn't stopping there: it's also going to be home to Ramen Market, a more casual 50-seat sister spot serving bowls of noodles with seasonal veggies, grilled or sous-vide proteins, and herbs grown in the garden. Diners can assemble their own bowls from a list of ingredients, or choose from a handful of Tominaga's pre-selected assemblies. Ramen Market will also offer Japanese-style breakfasts with freshly made juices and coffee and tea from SoCal's LAMill, and a retail component selling spices, tea, and sake.
The deal has just gone through and a full buildout is required, so don't expect this duo anytime soon: Mina says they'll likely open in the spring or summer of 2014. Meanwhile, Mina's fourth SF project, The Company Bar & Kitchen, has hit some kind of snag, and is "on hold indefinitely," to the point where it may not actually open. Yikes.
· Michael Mina to bring Pabu and Ramen Market to SF [Inside Scoop]
· Mina, Tominaga's SF Pabu a 13-year dream come true [Chron]
· Ken Tominaga and Michael Mina May Bring Hana to SF [~ ESF ~]