PRICE: $5-$10 per entree
“Umm…why are we entering a morgue?” I’m looking at the establishment from the outside in. Well there’s really nothing much to see. It’s black. The words ‘Hapa Izakaya’ are tattooed onto the entrance, but that’s just about it. Black. Nothing but black. The perfect place to house vampires, corpses, or ghouls. I am somewhat hesitant to enter what is supposedly one of the finest Japanese pubs (that’s pretty much what Izakaya means) in the Lower Mainland.
Upon entering the establishment, as opposed to seeing the vampires and ghouls I was expecting, my foodie crew and I enter what turns out to be a pretty classy place. Aside from the periodic “Irasshaimase!” (“welcome”, in Japanese), an assortment of down-tempo lounge and house music floats in the air. The lights are very dim, the table arrangements simple yet elegant, and the atmosphere perfect for intimate conversation. Dark wooden floors and furniture line the place and give it a rustic edge, but preserve a modern, minimalist feel.
Sitting down at our table, the first thing I notice upon opening the menu is that despite the fact that we are in a Japanese establishment, there is absolutely no Sushi available to order. Instead, a swath of tapas-style entrees greet my eyes. Intriguing.
After the orders are placed, the food begins to trickle in. Slow, but worth the wait. Our first victim is the Avocado Salad. Dried Yams standing upright on a glass, with an elegant looking dip to its side. Avocado, Seaweed, Sesame, all mixing with pretty good chemistry, the individual ingredients are all tangible, yet come together as a whole to create a distinctively great vegetable dip. It mixes great with the Dried Yams.
“…despite the fact that we are in a Japanese establishment, there is absolutely no Sushi available to order. Instead, a swath of tapas-style entrees greet my eyes.”
The Beef Tataki makes the next appearance, arranged beautifully in a circular formation, crowned with Fried Onions, Spring Onions, Sesame Seeds, and a Lemon. The Sesame-Chili Sauce integrates rather well, accentuating the tender slices of AAA Carpaccio Beef. Sweet, savoury, and light, it’s another great appetizer.
Agedashi Tofu, is a pretty run-of-the-mill dish, and quite frankly I didn’t really expect too much from it. I didn’t really get much from it either. Not terribly distinguishable from the Agedashi that you can find in most other high-end restaurants. Good, but nothing memorable.
The last dish we ordered arrives. Ebi Mayo is another great entree that I was looking forward to since I saw it on the menu. Tempura Prawns dipped in a Spicy Mayonnaise Sauce, they provide an exciting new spin on a classic dish. Who would’ve thought Tempura Prawns and Spicy Mayo would go together so well? A savoury taste with the well-rounded, buttery consistency of Mayonnaise, it’s definitely a dish to remember.
All in all, a great tapas-style establishment that provides intriguing new spins on timeless Japanese classics.