Hapa Izakaya has been on my list of izakaya style restaurants to try for a while but it was on the pricey end. Hence I was thrilled when I saw a Groupon for $15 for $30 worth of food at the Kisilano location. It’s located near the corner of Yew and Cornwall Avenue and also next to another sushi restaurant as well. They had a small patio area and on the day we went it was really sunny so it might be too blinding to sit outside. Well I’m not really a patio person anyway. The inside of the restaurant was dark with TVs that showed various sports footage. Hapa was not loud like Guu either which was good because I think Guu is too noisy sometimes.
We also ordered the Scallop Tartare. We had originally wanted the Duck Blueberry but they sold out of it already. =( The scallop tartare was surprisingly spicy and we thought there was wasabi in it but after taking another look at the description, it said it had karashi mustard in it. That’s some strong mustard! The wonton chips helped balance out the spiciness nicely though with a hint of saltiness from the chips.
The Aburi Saba Sushi was marinated mackerel land oba sushi seared table-side. This is the first time I’ve watched my food seared in front of me! Yes I was quite fascinated as I watched the skin of the fish brown lightly under the torch. I secretly wondered how many fish the waitress had burned before she perfected this technique. Like the Sablefish, the mackerel was really soft and smooth. The rice was perfectly formed so that it was easy to pick up and didn’t fall apart. I wished they had given us 6 pieces though. =(
The Ahi Tuna Steak was featured on their fresh sheet menu of the day and my friend had wanted the regular Ahi Tuna and I wasn’t sure what the difference was so we went with the steak version. It turns out that the steak version was not the sashimi but a more cooked version of the sashimi. It looked more than lightly seared but I still liked it. The sesame sauce was delicious as well.
Finally we had the Pork Belly Lettuce Wrap. It arrived with some more wonton chips and pickled onions as well. The pork belly was crispy and fatty. When everything was combined in the lettuce there was an interesting assortment of flavours and textures going on. I didn’t really feel that this dish was particularly special though. I’ve probably had too many lettuce wraps with my Peking duck. Also while we were eating we had no idea what the sauce was. We felt quite baffled since it was nothing we had tasted before and we forgot to ask after. Turns out it was apple yuzu jam. Now I would have never figured that out!
I’m glad we had a Groupon because our meal came to be $55 for five really small portions (so happy I used my Groupon before it expired!). Although I know that tapas are suppose to be small plates and the food was executed well, these are really pricey! The Sablefish and Aburi Saba Sushi were my favourites but unfortunately I will have to stick with Guu for my Japanese izakaya fix (unemployed recent grad). Fear not though if you can’t afford to go during regular hours, they do Hapa hour at various times for their different locations so be sure to visit them then instead so check out their website. Even though the menu items are severely limited, they are all under $5 and that’s a steal!