It’s the Taste of Yaletown time of the year again! Popped into Hapa Izakaya for their $25 three course menu with a friend and between the two of us we had all the non-vegetarian items on the menu because we’re all about the meat around here.
ichi // first course
For the first course, we had the Beef Tataki and the Ahi Tuna Yukke. The Ahi Tuna Yukke arrived first, along with a vaguely apologetic warning that the dishes would be coming out “randomly” tonight, which turned out to mean that while our dishes did come out in order of the courses, they came out one at a time, which I suppose facilitated sharing the food family style…? It certainly made it easier to focus on one dish at a time!
Ahi Tuna Yukke | Ahi tuna tartare, quail egg, pine nuts, shiso, crispy seaweed for wrapping
The yukke was almost startlingly tiny when it appeared, but I guess that’s what you get for a $25 three course meal? The yukke was excellent, size aside, the ahi tuna sashimi was fresh and delicious, and you can’t go wrong with quail’s egg, really. Definitely something to order again, although perhaps at a more regular serving size.
Beef Tataki | Lightly seared AAA beef, soy barbecue sauce
The beef tataki had cute little slices of lightly marbled beef which was soft and tender but weirdly light on taste. The soy barbecue sauce wasn’t much help, either, unfortunately, but the garlic chips were delicious! (Deja vu… I’ve posted the exact same thing about Hapa Izakaya’s beef tataki before, on Instagram 🤔) The portion size was much much better than the tuna yukke though, so. There’s that going for it.
ni // second course
Chicken Nanban | Fried chicken thigh, daikon tartar sauce
The third thing to arrive was the Chicken Nanban. This was definitely the most sloppily plated dish we got tonight… there were enormous, slightly wilted lettuce leaves tucked in next to the unevenly sized chicken chunks, and messy (probably accidental) sauce smears beside the chicken and in the bowl of tartar sauce, and the whole thing just generally looked unappetizing and out of character for Hapa Izakaya, which normally has reasonably Instagrammable™ dishes. Thankfully, the chicken tasted much better than it looked. The chicken was nicely fried, light and tender, not too oily at all, the tartar sauce was refreshing, and it all went together nicely. Win!
Crispy Panko-Fried Scallops | Fried scallops, jalapeno mango mayo, lotus root chips
Next up were the Crispy Panko-Fried Scallops. The panko crust was excellent, perfectly fried and crispy and a little buttery, but unfortunately the scallops themselves were a touch overcooked and just on the rubbery side of chewy. The lotus root chips were excellent though, especially with the jalapeno mango mayo. That mayo was so good I wouldn’t have minded having the chance to dip the fried chicken in it too, but the mayo didn’t show up til we’d finished all the chicken, boo.
san // third course
Hambagu Steak | Ground AAA Angus beef, minced daikon, ponzu, shiso, garlic chips
This was the least exciting dish we ordered, personally, because my brother makes weirdly good tofu beef hambagu steaks, and I’m all about trying things I can’t get at home at restaurants… and sadly, when it came, I was absolutely not blown away. This Hambagu Steak was a super dense meat patty, so abnormally dense that we had difficulty trying to break it into bite-sized chunks with our chopsticks, and it showed up under a mountain of minced daikon that was at least half the size of the Hambagu Steak itself.
Aburi Saba Sushi | Torched pressed mackerel sushi with sansho pepper
Thankfully, my Aburi Saba Sushi arrived shortly after, because you absolutely can’t go wrong with Aburi Saba here. The other must order at Hapa Izakaya 😍 I guess because this was part of the Taste of Yaletown menu, they didn’t torch it tableside like they normally would. The nice thing about the tableside torching (besides the sheer dramatic awesomeness of FIRE) is that you get to pick how seared you want the saba. I prefer mine barely seared, for maximum raw saba power, but for people who aren’t overly friendly with the intense oily fish flavour that saba serves up, a little more cooked might be a better option.