PAGU is coming to Cambridge's Central Square, right by the MIT campus, and O Ya alum Tracy Chang is behind it, as Boston Restaurant Talk reported. Chang tells Eater that she's aiming for a late summer 2016 opening at 310 Massachusetts Ave., which is located near Naco Taco, Flour Bakery + Cafe, and the upcoming restaurant/arcade collaboration from the Area Four and Roxy's Grilled Cheese teams (working title: Roxy's A4cade).
Chang describes PAGU (Japanese for "pug") as a restaurant and cafe that will serve Japanese tapas, and she's drawing inspiration from her grandmother's Japanese restaurant Tokyo, which was in Cambridge's Fresh Pond area from 1988 to 2000. And she's not just using the word "tapas" to indicate "small plates" with no regard for tapas' Spanish origin: The food will take into account her Spanish culinary experiences as well, from working at three-Michelin-starred Restaurante Martin Berasategui in San Sebastian, Spain to working with visiting Spanish and American chefs as part of Harvard's Science + Cooking course. PAGU will focus on seafood, local ingredients, and "a 'less is more' approach towards composition" with a blending of Japanese and Spanish techniques and flavors.
Chang's resume also includes co-founding Guchi's Midnight Ramen (a 2012 ramen pop-up series) and studying pâtisserie at Le Cordon Bleu Paris.
"PAGU is a hearth for the community to gather and collaborate over soulful food and drink, an environment for creativity to thrive," says Chang. The opening's still a long way off, but follow along on Instagram and Twitter for updates.
Chang will go before the licensing board on December 15 to seek permission to transfer the full liquor license from shuttered Cambridge music venue The Western Front. She's applying for operating hours between 7 a.m. and 1 a.m. Sunday through Wednesday and 7 a.m. and 2 a.m. Thursday through Saturday. The PAGU space might seat around 172 inside, plus 64 on a seasonal patio.