I’m still clearly into the cherry blossoms that are dolling up our beautiful city at the mo’.
My sister with a pretty package of Cartems Donuts.
Classic downtown Vancouver.
But I won’t go overboard. So.
The other day I finally got a chance to eat at one of the Hapa Izakaya locations. Despite the less than flattering reviews they get, the franchise has ‘izakaya’ in its name and so I had to give it a go!
The other few times I’ve tried to pop in, they’ve been closed (once because of water problems), so I was excited.
We came at a good time. Hapa hour! We got a peak at the regular menu after, and thank goodness we came before 5:30. The yummy beef tataki below was originally priced at $10! Just for six small slices of beef.
It had a good spicy sauce and refreshing, cool texture, so I’d recommend it if you stop by. Nothing special, though.
The ika calamri was pretty good, too. For $3 a pop, I’d happily gobble up a few plates! The dill cream sauce was very Western, but it tasted fine so I didn’t mind.
Despite the place not being packed, our waitress was a bit absent. We didn’t see her very often and to be honest, out of the three times she stopped by, twice was when I flagged her down.
It’s kind of ugly, too, but whatever.
The ebi mayo was just plain bad. It wasn’t inedible, but it wasn’t ebi mayo. The mayo was very faint and the the ebi was coated in a sauce that tasted vaguely like the kind of sweet and sour sauce you’d get in an Asian food court stall. Not impressed.
The grilled ika was good. We didn’t actually order it–when ordering, I had said “ika–wait, no, ika calamari,” but I guess she misheard, which is fine. We liked it anyway!
After that, Hapa hour ended. We were kind of full, but we hadn’t ordered any drinks, so we still felt we could afford more food. We ordered yaki udon, aburi saba, and beef short ribs. Although Marielle had actually hoped for aburi saba sushi, she liked mixing in the salty saba fish with the udon noodles.
The saba getting seared.
Beef ribs. Pretty tasty.
Hapa to me was a kind of izakaya version of Cactus Club. The place looks urban-chic and the atmosphere is distinguished by its dim lights and sleek yet casual interior, as well as the apparently attractive wait staff. I can understand straying a bit from the traditional nature of an izakaya joint (after-work pub food in Japan) to emulate the West Coast urbanized Coal Harbour area, but the whole izakaya-meets-Cactus Club vibe didn’t really work. The food was ridiculously overpriced at regular dining hours, and it wasn’t at all great (it was fusion-esqu and like most fusion places, Hapa did not pull it off). The service wasn’t particularly good, either.
The only redeeming thing about it is Hapa hour, where tapas (such a non-Asian–never mind Japanese–term) are half price. I would never bother with it if it wasn’t a legitimately a good deal. But would I go back? No, probably not.
Luckily, the night was still great, because my sister & I caught up with some longtime best friends, and took a bunch of cheesy mirror photos.
I’m going to start posting more this week, by the way. I’m dining out a bit more (ouch, my wallet!) so there’ll be more restaurant reviews coming up. Get excited. Or not excited, I guess… whatever.