Best Japanese

725 Aliceanna St., pabuizakaya.com, (410) 223-1460

Pabu bills itself as an "izakaya," which, in Japan, means the focus is on boozing it up-not that the food is necessarily an afterthought in such places, but the connotation is more of an alleyway hole in the wall where you can both eat and get shit-faced after a hard day's work. Well, that definitely ain't Pabu, which is decidedly a destination spot (it's adjacent to the Four Seasons hotel after all) and a must-visit for seekers of Japanese food in Baltimore. The interior is beautiful, the fish selection and quality immaculate, grilled meats (including not-often-seen offal options) expertly prepared, and the array of saké unmatched in the area. It's not cheap but not outrageous, and well-nigh affordable during the regular or late-night happy hours. Our only real gripe is about the hours: no lunch and closed Sunday and Monday.

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