Hapa Izakaya is what many would consider the gold standard when it comes to izakayas. Flavourful Tokyo-inspired tapas, a modern look, and lively service have helped the three Hapa Izakaya locations – Robson, Kitsilano, and Yaletown – cement a cult-like following among the foodie crowd. A dimly lit, modern and zen-like room sets the tone for the chain of restaurants, the first location of which opened in 2003 by Lea and Justin Ault.
Cocktails and premium sake get your meal off to a subtly calm start. Then, the train of dishes begins. The joy of eating at an izakaya is the selection of plates to sample. For the most part, dishes are made to share, meaning that for a two-person meal, 7-10 menu items is far from excessive. Try Hapa Izakaya’s Ebi Mayo, a favourite amongst patrons. Deep-fried prawns are tossed in a spicy mayo that provides a delightful contrast to the batter. The Bintoro is a nicely-seared albacore tuna sashimi with the house ponzu sauce, and it’s certified ocean-friendly by the Vancouver Aquarium. The fresh sheets at Hapa Izakaya are always slightly altering the dishes available, but this is far from a detraction. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to test the Cheese Tofu, a sweet and savoury appetizer with honey and strawberries served over toast.
Hapa Izakaya has been lauded by food critics city-wide, and has even garnered national acclaim. The quality of the meal is why you go there the first time, the service is why go back a second, and the combination of the two is why you become a regular. With three locations, Hapa Izakaya can be enjoyed by young professionals across Vancouver. Though, we recommend making the rounds to all three to see the subtle nuances that makes each its own entity. Hapa Izakaya. Robson: 1479 Robson Street, Vancouver, 604-689-4272. Yaletown: 1193 Hamilton Street, Vancouver, 604-681-4272. Kitsilano: 1516 Yew Street, Vancouver, 604-738-4272.