Restaurant Review: Hapa Izakaya

>> Monday, August 11, 2014

Vancouver has always been known for its amazing sushi. Their fresh seafood is hard to beat and therefore the sushi and sashimi are always top grade. One of the most popular sushi places is Hapa Izakaya, known for their unique take on classic Japanese dishes. They’ve now brought their flavours to Calgary, recently opening on 11th avenue and we decided to drop in to check out their locally inspired menu.

Atmosphere: Contemporary and modern interiors with a lounge like feel.

Price Range: Mid $10s

Food and Drink: The menu was nicely divided in to various sections highlighting hot and cold appetizers, small sharing plates, stone bowls and different sushi selections. We decided to try a bit off of each starting with the Tuna Avocado Salsa Dip which reminded me more of a tartare due to the addition of the creamy avocado. Served with a side of plantain chips it was a nice light start to our meal. Next up were the apple soy marinaded Beef Short Ribs. The flavour of the short ribs were good, but I did find them to be a bit chewy and hard to bite through, it would have been nice to be accompanied by some more lettuce or additional sides and served as wraps.

It was hard to decide between the stone bowls so we ordered both the Spicy Pork Ishi-Yaki and the Kinoko Ishi-Yaki. The pork stone bowl was comprised of minced pork, garlic sprouts, egg, tomato, lettuce, spicy miso over rice and the Kinoko featured mixed mushrooms, iwanori seaweed with rice. Both of them were served in a hot stone bowl and the server will help mix them when they arrive, however since the bowls are quite hot it ultimately creates little pieces of rice crisps on the bottom of the bowl. I found that the crisps added a nice crunch to each bowl making them even more amazing.

Instead of having to decide which sashimi to order we got the Sashi Mori, a chef’s daily selection of fresh sashimi. It’s perfect for those who are a bit adventurous and would like to sample different types. It has a good selection of unique pieces, not just your typical salmon and tuna but pieces that are fresh and flavourful like the tuna belly.

We couldn’t leave without trying the sushi rolls. Sadly the Kin Roll was not available that day due to a back order on yellowtail but we did get to try the Hapa, Umi and Hanabi rolls. It was hard to pick a favorite. The Hapa roll had avocado, cucumber, carrot, asparagus, kaiware (radish sprouts), topped with salmon, spicy mayo was all torched which provided a really nice charred flavour profile to the roll. The Umi consisted of chopped scallop and mayo mix, avocado then topped with ahi tuna and tangy onion vinaigrette. All the ingredients melded together nicely and the vinaigrette was light and refreshing. The Hanabi roll was a play on the traditional spicy tuna roll but topped with lots of tobiko for added texture and presentation.

You don't have to worry about being thirsty at Hapa, their drink menu which rivals their food menu has anything and everything from sake to cocktails. It'll probably be harder to decide what you want to get over whether you will be ordering a drink.

My Picks: Spicy Pork Ishi-Yahi, Hapa Roll

Overall: Although the menu is different and slightly smaller than Hapa Vancouver, it still featured some interesting items that I would definitely go back for. I already have some dishes in mind for when I return. Aburi mackerel and kin roll, here I come.

Hapa Izakaya
816 11 Avenue SW
Calgary, AB
(403) 452-6737

Hapa Izakaya on Urbanspoon


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