Pabu Grill & Sake_Interior 3

Pabu Grill & Sake:

190 Smith Street Collingwood
(03) 9419 6141 or

Collingwood’s Smith Street dining strip is now home to Pabu Grill & Sake, a Japanese Izakaya with a menu rivalled only by its interior design. The space features an impressive interplay of architecture and artwork, courtesy of Architects EAT and Two One Elephant.

It took nine months to transform what was once an old shop lot into Pabu Grill & Sake. Limited by a heritage overlay and shop front façade, Architects EAT employed contrasting materials to turn the 200sqm space into an all-day dining venue. Its success lies in the use of contemporary ‘Japanalia’ décor that subtly references traditional times.

The restaurant is flawlessly tailored to the Izakaya experience. A house-shaped, recycled timber partition wall with a wide window enables food to flow freely from kitchen to floor staff, while raw bricks contrast against steel finishes and add a touch of Collingwood grunge.

“The most enjoyable aspect is creating ‘a gastronomical theatre’ for the customers. It is all about showcasing the process of creating the food and drink — our job as the architect is to ensure the design of the space enhances this communication between staff and the customers,” says Eid Goh, Director of Architects EAT.

Hiroyasu Tsuri of Two One Elephant is responsible for the Japanese mural spread across the wall opposite the kitchen, where elegant cranes and silhouetted plants painted in natural, subdued hues sweep across a mountain scape.

Pabu owner Khoa Nguyen is especially fond of the floating abacus on the ceiling, made from soft timber with orange highlights. Other decorative features include framed vintage Japanese posters, vibrant traditional pottery and a collection of designer light fittings — from green and yellow pendants to tubular globes.

Customers sitting at the elongated bar — which runs parallel to the mural — can watch their food being prepared in the kitchen while sipping on sake, hand-selected by sake master Toshi Maeda. The customary beverage is best enjoyed in conjunction with the banquet menu, where dishes such as kingfish sashimi crowned with jalapeños and yuzu soy dressing are paired with the likes of Onigoroshi Junmai, a lighter sake with a fruity fragrance and smooth finish.

Like the interior, the menu at Pabu Grill & Sake celebrates the best of authentic Japan with a modern twist. Highlights include sweet miso tiger prawns and scallops wrapped in bacon, both prepared on the specialty Yakitori grill.

“My passion is to inspire, engage and bring guests together as they graze through our menu learning the delights and significance of sake in Japanese dining culture,” says Nguyen.

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