Second time’s the charm. Is that how it goes? Or is it “third time’s the charm”? If so, I guess that means we have to go back to Hapa Izakaya one more time! After unsuccessfully securing a table on Saturday night, we made a reservation for the following night right there and then. The hostess looked very amused at my look of defeat. We returned on Sunday night with reservations in place, feeling invincible.
The Hapa group operates 4 locations in the Lower Mainland: West End, Kitsilano, Yaletown as Hapa Izakaya and Coal Harbour as Hapa Umi. Prior to this, I’ve only been to the West End Hapa Izakaya. The Kitsilano location is located right at Kits Beach, on Yew at Cornwall. What a great place for light summer dinner after a long day of tanning under the sun! I know what I’ll be doing come July!
Hapa reminds me of the Asian version of Earl’s/Cactus/Moxie’s/Joey’s line of restaurants. Slightly higher class, very dimly lit, modern, candle-lit dinner type restaurant. However, unlike that line of overpriced, mediocre food, Hapa serves overpriced, good food!
Compared to only the night before, it was quite quiet on Sunday night. We arrived around 6:30 pm with a reservation, but it looked like we may not have even needed it. The interior of the restaurant is dark, lit by the back wall and one tea light on each table. The furniture has a modern feel to it.
We started with the Sashimi Salad ($9.99 sm, $15.99 lg), Mixed sashimi with a citrus-soy dressing on a bed of organic greens. This is the small size. Damn, that was one delicious salad. I would come back just for the salad. Although I was initially disappointed that the salad did not look like the one Follow Me Foodie received on her visit here, I was completely satisfied with the taste. The organic vegetables were so fresh. You can tell by their bright, vibrant greens. The mixed sashimi were 1 piece of salmon, 2 pieces of tuna and 1 piece of scallop. The salmon was the best. It was fresh yet creamy. But the best part of the salad was the dressing. It was a citrus-soy dressing of magic and happiness. It was so refreshing and flavourful! This is probably one of the best salads I’ve ever had! I can’t recommend it enough! I could eat this for every meal. So, so good.
We ordered the Cho Wagyu ($11.99), 6 pieces, Self seared Japanese premium beef, garlic chips, green onion, ponzu sauce off of their Fresh Sheet. We’re actually quite frugal people and we normally would not order thinly sliced beef at $2 a pop. But since we had a Groupon, we rationalized that it’s okay to splurge and try new things once in a while.
The beef was definitely premium beef. Quality, tender, creamy Japanese premium beef. You can see the marbling here.
The hot stone was really hot! The stone sizzled when beef was placed on top of it. A few seconds on each side did the trick. I did not try the beef raw because I found the novelty of the hot stone too fascinating to not maximize.
Next we ordered the Aburi Saba ($8.99), 6 pieces, Seared marinated mackerel sashimi. Aburi sushi is flame seared sushi. The saba sashimi was presented to us and then seared table-side. I loved all the interactions we were able to have with our food. First the self searing of the wagyu and now the searing of the saba. Saba is very fishy and some people don’t enjoy the taste. Personally, I love it so I enjoyed this dish very much.
Although this dish wasn’t bad in any way (in fact, it was delicious), it did not stand out compared to the other dishes we had that night. The service was so fast that within 15 minutes of each other, we were served everything that we ordered. I know that’s not necessarily a bad thing but for the small 2×2 table we were seated at, four dishes did not leave much room for anything else. That’s definitely a #firstworldproblems.
Last to come was the Spicy Pork Ishi-yaki ($9.99), Rice, minced pork, garlic sprouts, egg, tomato, lettuce, spicy miso, served in a hot stone bowl. The server mentioned that this is his favourite dish as he prepared it for us. It looks much better when served, before it’s mixed table-side. Our rice was quite pasty and I know it’s supposed to be crispy but it tasted delicious anyway. Initially, the combination of tomato and lettuce in rice did not sound appealing to me. But this ishi-yaki sounded better than the other two that they offer so we went with this one. It turned out to be so flavourful! I think this was our second favourite of the night, after the salad.
The bill came to $46.44 after tax and with my $30 Groupon, it was $16.44. The Groupon cost $15 so in total, we paid $31.44 before tip for the meal. The thing about using a Groupon is that you should tip on the original subtotal. So we paid ~$35 in total for the two of us. Hapa Izakaya is one of the more expensive izakaya groups. You’re paying a premium for the brand and the ambiance. I would only dine here if I had a Groupon or maybe for a special occasion. Otherwise, their Hapa Hour menu looks quite affordable.
Thanks for eating with me!