Monday, January 21, 2013

Happy times at Hapa Izakaya

Mrs Yumyum's list of restaurants is a never ending list with all the new restaurants opening up in Toronto. One that she got to check off this weekend was Hapa Izakaya Another izakaya restaurant from Vancouver. She's been hearing great reviews from the food forums she follows. It was a great place for a girls' night. The restaurant was recently renovated and the girls like the modern decor and lounge feel. The restaurant was loud from the upbeat music and the patrons talking over it. It was completely different from Guu's bar style, communal tables, and loudness from the enthusiastic servers/chefs.

It was a late dinner so the girls were hungry and to make ordering quicker they went with a lot of the "favourite" items. Their first dish was Karaage and their version of this was generous portions of chicken lightly battered that had a nice crunch, topped with thin slices of onions and a soy ginger sauce.  Cmpared to their competitors like Guu and Fin, it was the new leader for this dish.

Next dish was a bit of a disappointment, Salmon Yukke which is featured on their Fresh Sheets. A raw quail is served on top of salmon tartar with seaweed tempura chips. The tartar was unders-flavoured and the delicate tartar was not complimented well with the super crunchy chips.

The girls were happy that the following dish made them forget about the last dish, Scallop Tartare. The tartare was nicely dressed and the wonton chips add the perfect amount of saltiness and crunch texture.

Beef Tataki was pretty good, but not good for those who cannot eat spicy since the thin slices of beef is covered in a sesame-chili sauce. Mrs Yumyum prefers the one at Guu with the large portion of radish served with it that absorbs the tasty sauce.

The next dish was one that Mrs Yumyum and the girls haven't tried at other Izakayas. Negitoro which was chopped albacore tuna served with garlic bread. The girls like this one. It was definitely something different. A lot of flavour and almost like a Japanese bruchetta.

If you are a fan of avocado you will like this one, Tuna Avocado Salsa Dip. Another dish that they haven't seen at other Izakayas, this yummydip was served with plaintain chips used for the dipper.

Another winning choice was the Tuna Steak. Perfectly seared tuna served with a salad and wasabi mashed potatoes. The girls all loved the wasabi mashed potato and was disappointed when they reordered this dish that it did not come with it.

Aburi Saba was a simple but very satisfying dish. An extra bonus was the mackerel was torch seared table side. A good dish if you like mackerel, but not a must to order.

A few of the girls really like pork belly, so they were excited to order the Pork Belly Lettuce Wraps. Unfortunately this was another miss of the night. The thick cuts of pork belly were overcooked making the meat dry. Mrs Yumyum says this dish is similar to the Korean BBQ lettuce wraps, but she preferred those over this dish.


This one is a must order according to the girls, Halibut Tacos. The tempura halibut and shredded vegetables were wrapped in tortilla and served with the super tasty jalapeno tartar sauce. This tartar sauce will make anything taste good.

This is a must must must order according to the girls - Ika. They could not stop eating the perfectly grilled squid which was marinaded with sake, soy, and garlic.


They could not decide which tuna dish to order so they ordered both, Ahi Tuna Sashimi and Bintoro. The sashimi was very fresh. But if Mrs Yumyum had to only choose one to reorder it would be the Bintoro with the lightly grilled Albacore tuna served with ponzu sauce, thinly sliced radish, and garlic chips.

The girls were pretty full at this point but they had two dishes to the finish line.  A lot of tables were ordering this one so decided to try it as well (originally thinking it would help fill them up), Spicy Pork Ishi-Yaki. Again not a good dish for those who cannot eat spicy food, but for those who can a really good dish. A large portion of rice, tomato, lettuce, egg, pork, and spicy miso sauce served in a hot stone bowl. A much bigger portion than Guu's rice dish, but Guu takes the edge with their Kinoko Bibimbap.

Somehow with their full bellies, they were able to squeeze this last dish. Teriyaki Chicken Burrito. They enjoyed the Halibut Taco so much that they had high expectations for this one. It was good but not taste exactly as it sounds. Mrs Yumyum says if it was served with the jalapeno tartar sauce maybe she would re-order it again.

The girls gave this restaurant the thumbs up and would suggest people trying it. They found a lot of western influences on their menu. The portion sizes were good and it was a fun atmosphere for a date night with a group of friends. However, Guu and Fin are still the preferred Izakaya restaurants.

Hapa Izakaya Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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