Landmark PABU Izakaya in the center of the equally innovative Financial District is known for a tremendous number of excellent aspects, from the exceptional food to the inviting atmosphere. Though there is one prime feature that stands out far above the rest and cannot be replicated anywhere else, which is the incomparable Sake Master Stuart Morris.
Definitely regarded as a local and prolific celebrity in the Bay Area's culinary scene, Morris's global expertise and deep passion for his craft have taken him far beyond San Francisco before finding home at Chefs Michael Mina and Ken Tominaga's PABU for the last seven years.
Here, his wealth of knowledge and genuine love for sake radiates all throughout PABU when he's on the floor, greeting guests with friendly conversations, warm personalized service, and providing intricate food and beverage pairings for a full and inviting experience.
Originally as a Boston native, he began at Johnson & Wales' culinary program, and moved to work at Hyatt in New Orleans before flying to London to study at the premiere Le Cordon Bleu. After then moving to work in a Michelin-star restaurant in Switzerland, his unstoppable talent brought him to various areas such as San Diego and our own Positrio before relocating to a sushi restaurant at the US Virgin Islands.There in the carribean is where he truly unlocked his love for the traditional rice wine. After being at a career crossroads, Morris decided to take his interest in sake further, flying to Japan with encouragement from his supportive father.
After fruitlessly knocking on several doors in Japan asking for someone to train and educate him, the owner of his prior restaurant La Toque introduced him to Chef Ken Tominaga at Hana. Stuart and Ken became fast friendsas Morris worked at his sushi bar, sparking Morris to fully enter the sake world after Ken boldly told him,"you aren’t good at making sushi," requesting him to "move to front of house and talk about sake."
Stuart passed the rigorously difficult sake-knowledge Kikisake-Shi exam in Tokyo in 2009, and soon he rose into prominence within the global community of non-Japanese Sake Masters. Amazingly possessing all the knowledge of sake production from his relentless studying, he became not only Hana's official sake sommelier, but began his own production and collection of premium sake, including rare and imported Nama Sakes.
Morris continues to fly to Japan and back to San Francisco to work on his sake at the Yamagata prefecture's Shindo Shuzo. The brewery produces 30-40 different sakes, with his 2021 and 2022 sake made remotely over Zoom with Stuart's guidance all the way back here in America! Stuart would ask in great detail every aspect of his sake, with his precise guidance creating over 500 bottles.
PABU currently pours their 2020 bottling, which sells for $450 for 1.8 liters.
Stuart Morris is the proud definition of persevering for your passion. As he says, "you have to prove that you wanted to do it and then they will teach you and help you," he recognizes those who trained him. Stuart is authentically happy to pass on his knowledge to all his sake enthusiasts, kindly answering any question in a genial and non-judgmental way.
Definitely say hi to him when you see him at PABU for your next happy hour or dinner outing, especially with their upcoming outdoor seating perfect for summer!
Photography by: Mina Group