Dine Out 2014: Hapa Izakaya on Robson Dining Review

I had a chance to try out Hapa Izakaya last weekend with my dear friend, Samantha. I’ve heard a lot of good comments about this restaurant, and just my luck, it’s a part of the Dine Out Vancouver Festival!

Hapa Izakaya

Neighborhood: Robson Street
Price: $28
Cuisine: Japanese
Type: Four Course

Full Dine Out Menu here

For a Dine Out menu, I consider the options to be quite extensive, which is great as I love getting to try different dishes. Samantha and I picked out our dishes, and shared the different ones, giving us each a chance to sample various foods.

Three Ocean Wise oysters; Royal Miyagi, Joyce Point, Read Island GemFresh Oysters
Three Ocean Wise oysters

The oysters are pre-selected by the chef; Joyce Point, Royal Miyagi, and Read Island Gem. Overall, the oysters were quite fresh, and the complimentary condiments were nice to have as well. Royal Miyagi was my absolute favorite (very fresh and creamy), but I have to admit that I wasn’t crazy about the other two; Joyce Point had a bit of a bitter taste to it, and Read Island Gem was mediocre. But for the sake of the Dine Out menu, the selection wasn’t too bad.

Negitoro Chopped Albacore; tuna belly, spring onions, toasted garlic bread
Chopped Albacore tuna belly, spring onions, toasted garlic bread

The negitoro could’ve used some more flavors, or the garlic in the bread could’ve been stronger. The portion of the negitoro could have been bigger as well, especially since the slices of garlic bread were so thick and big. Because of this, there was barely enough spread for the last slice. Nonetheless, it’s an interesting dish. I wouldn’t mind just having the negitoro as itself either.

Oyster Motoyaki; Baked Sawmill Bay oysters, miso mayo sauce, shoestring potatoesOyster Motoyaki
Baked Sawmill Bay oysters, miso mayo sauce, shoestring potatoes

More oysters! Sadly, I found this dish excessively salty, and the miso was very strong. I would have liked for the motoyaki to be creamier as well. However, the crunchy potatoes served on top of the baked oysters was a delight. I really liked the different textures of the dish combined.

Ebi Mayo Tempura; deep fried prawns, spicy mayo sauceEbi Mayo Tempura
Deep fried prawns, spicy mayo sauce

This was probably my favorite dish of the night, and it was much better than I had anticipated. I originally thought it was basically fried shrimp tempura with mayonnaise on the side, but I wasn’t even close. The prawns were lightly battered and crisped to perfection, even though they were covered with sauce. The sauce was a bit sour and sweet with a hint of spice, but all the flavors were nicely balanced. Absolutely loved this dish!

Spicy Pork Ishiyaki Rice; minced pork, garlic sprouts, egg, tomato, lettuce, spicy miso; served in a hot stone bowlSpicy Pork Ishiyaki Rice
Minced pork, garlic sprouts, egg, tomato, lettuce, spicy miso; served in a hot stone bowl

I’ll admit it, I wasn’t too excited by the amount of vegetables served in this dish, especially since I dislike beansprouts. The rice is a bit spicier than I would have liked for it to be (and I’m a big fan of hot foods). Nonetheless, it’s still a pretty good dish.

Oyster Risotto Rice; oysters, mozzarella, onion, carrot, mushroom, green beans, and cream miso broth, served in a hot stone bowlOyster Risotto Rice
Oysters, mozzarella, onion, carrot, mushroom, green beans, and cream miso broth, served in a hot stone bowl

I have never tried risotto before, but having seen it on TV all the time (particularly on Hell’s Kitchen), I’ve been extremely curious to try the dish that creates all the trouble and fuss for chefs. It was quite interesting; tasty, creamy, cheesy rice, with oysters and subtle bits of other ingredients. The dish could use a bit more flavoring or salt. I still need to try an authentic western version of risotto, though.

Our server was very friendly and nice. She asked if it was our first time at Hapa Izakaya (yes for me, no for Samantha) and she went on to recommending popular dishes from the regular menu and such. Our waters were regularly refilled as well. However when we asked for lemons, another slice of bread (as she previously dropped ours), and the bill, there was a bit of wait and reminders were needed. During our 1.5 hours of dining, we also heard the unpleasant sound of glass dropping and breaking in the bar area, twice.

Food came out pretty quick; courses arrived shortly after another. The food was overall alright, some dishes seemed and tasted unique, and others not so much. As I previously mentioned, the selection of food choices on the menu was nice to see, but comparing with the regular menu prices, I wouldn’t say I saved a lot of money by having the Dine Out menu.

Overall, the atmosphere, service, and pricing are almost like a higher class dining version of Guu, and I’d probably prefer Guu. You also should keep in mind that you’ll have to pay for street parking, which isn’t too expensive around this end of Robson, but it’s still something to consider. Plus gas and time are also factors to consider if Hapa Izakaya is far for you (it was for me).

As my first time trying out Hapa Izakaya, I can’t say I loved my experience of it. Will I be going back? Probably not. It’s a good place for social outings and dining with larger groups, but if it’s just me and another person (or two), I would probably stick to some place closer and simpler.

Hapa Izakaya on Urbanspoon

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