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Chef Abe opens an izakaya

HUNTINGTON BEACH Calif. Famed Southern California chef Takashi Abe adds another izakaya-style Japanese restaurant to that growing field with the opening this weekend of Izakaya Zero.

The venture here is a partnership with Ted Lee, co-owner with Abe of Bluefin Fine Japanese Cuisine in Newport Coast, Calif., and Lee’s cousin  David Lee.  The three also plan to develop another Japanese restaurant together, Sea Smoke, a family-style place slated for a 2008 debut in San Clemente, Calif.

Abe was a protégé of sushi master and bi-coastal restaurateur Nobu Matsuhisa at the famed Los Angeles restaurant Matsuhisa.

Izakayas, the neighborhood pubs of Japan, have caught the attention of many restaurateurs in the United States. P.F. Chang’s China Bistro Inc., for instance, is testing a version called Taneko Japanese Tavern, and New York City has an izakaya row in its East Village section. The places traditionally feature small plates of various Japanese specialties, with an array of alcoholic beverages.

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