Vancouver is the land of good-tasting Asian food.
There are so many more options, and quality are far more superior than Seattle.
Hapa Izakaya is one of the prime examples.
We used to go to Guu, but finding its quality came down with expansion — time to venture out.
I made a reservation at 6pm for Hapa, and got quite worry when we were one of the very few tables that was occupied.
Our worry soon vanished, as people kept filing in after we sat down, and the restaurant turned into a lively loud place with a blink of our eyes.
Hapa occupied a really large space in downtown Vancouver, with plenty of tables and a big area for counter seating.
A virgin Hello Kitty was my drink of choice with strawberry puree, Calpis and soda; good fizziness and not sweet, perfect complement to the food.
Alcoholic version would have included vodka.
As izakaya places go, we ordered a bunch to share.
My favorite Japanese vegetables is goma-e.
Hapa’s was delicious with nice, dry spinach that was cooked, and water wrung out thoroughly, then mixed with fragrant, dry ground sesame and other condiments.
Pork belly was very delicious, non-fatty which was a plus, with excellent pickled onions, and a side of miso dressing for dipping.
Sourness of the pickle highlighted the crispiness in the pork belly, and the miso dressing was surprisingly refreshing.
The resulting pork belly was light which was definitely hard to find.
Hot stone rice bowl with pork, egg, garlic sprouts, tomatoes and lettuce was ok with a spicy miso flavor.
The best part was the fried garlic bits on top.
Agedashi tofu was crispy with delicious sauce and plenty of daikon.
Of all the dishes we tried, the mentaiko noodle was my number 1.
Texture of the udon was very good, perfectly al dante, and the flavors were bursting in the mouth — there was sourness, saltiness and peppery garlicky flavors from the kimchi, with a hint of shiso floral fresh flavor, and the sweetness from tomatoes.
A hint of creaminess to the dish, and everything blended so well together.
Grilled squid was marinated really well, aromatic and tender.
I wished that it would be grilled drier and crispier.
Chicken karaage was very garlicky, but the frying seemed to be uneven.
Some parts were very crispy and other parts were soft, still great flavor all around.
We had torched salmon press, and it was an exciting, finishing-touches at the table dish.
Modeled after Osaka style battera sushi, there was the layer of rice, with layer of salmon, avocado and red miso sauce on top.
One thing I did not like about battera sushi was that they had too much rice, and this was no exception.
Adding the green onions and crispy bits to the sushi gave another dimension to the sushi’s overall texture.
I found that the red miso paste did not add much but did not distract from the sushi either.
Another table-side fun fare was the grilled mackerel.
The saba was fatty and delicious; the slight charred flavor was absolutely desirable, and added depth to the overall flavor.
An extra zing was achieved by the side soy wasabi paste.
I will return to Hapa again over returning to Guu; meanwhile, I also tried Kingyo — to be reported on — stay tune!