With February and the Olympics approaching ever so quickly and the likelihood of eating out at a restaurant pretty much disappearing until April, the time is now to check out some new places. With that in mind, I heard about Hapa Izakaya’s newest restaurant in Yaletown, so I made my way over there for their opening night.
So if you’re looking for a quiet evening, you’ve come to the wrong place! As you enter the restaurant, you’re greeted to a great looking place and the chefs yelling out a loud and friendly “Irashaii!”. Well, to be honest, I had no idea what was being yelled, all I knew was that they were yelling something. After asking our server what was going on, she explained that “Irashaii” is a greeting in Japanese.
Now that we were greeted and seated, it was time to order and Hapa did not disappoint! And since my Japanese vocabulary is growing, I also learned that the word “izakaya” means “i” (to sit) and “sakaya” (sake shop). In other words, that Hapa Izakaya is essentially a Japanese-tappas type of restaurant, so we proceeded to try a bunch of things!
The tuna carpaccio was exactly as it should be…melt in your mouth, enough said!
The tempura prawns were sweet and spicy with a great light crunch and were served with a very nice spicy mayo.
The crispy oysters were probably my least favorite dish of the evening. They were good, but my expectations may have been too high after the first two plates. It was served on a brown rice sauce which I I found a little bland and didn’t pair well with the oysters. By the way, check out the great control of the chopsticks, it really adds to the picture doesn’t it?
The last dish of the evening was the ishi-yaki, which came tableside with a raw egg sitting on the rice. It all happened so quickly, otherwise I would have taken a picture of the “before”. Not only was it an amazing presentation, the server quickly mixed the egg, rice, pork, chives, tomato, lettuce and spicy miso in a hot stone bowl that had been baking in the oven all evening! Although the ebi mayo was great, the ishi-yaki was my favorite dish of the evening, as the flavors worked perfectly together and it had a nice comfort food feel to it.
Needless to say, Hapa Izakaya’s opening night was a huge success. I had a great time and the company certainly added to it! When you go, be prepared to be treated to a delicious meal and a warm and friendly irashaii!
1193 Hamilton Street in Yaletown