This is the fourth location of the popular Japanese tapas restaurant Hapa Izakaya.
I guess trying to move Hapa upscale with the Umi concept did not work as this has changed to a format similar to the other Hapa's. Not the same as the menu is scaled back and does not have the sampler menu as the Yaletown location where you can pick 3 items for $12. Also they do not have the $3 beer specials during Canuck game nights. Sat at the lounge to watch the Canucks game and they were good enough to have the audio on. Tried the salmon and tuna sashimi and it was very good, yaki soba - very good, cali negitoro and real crab rolls were also very good, seafood rissotto - good. The only failed dish was the ebi mayo as the mayo was already mixed on the prawns making them very soggy. Nice mixed cocktails with their versions of many classics including the mojito and ceasars. Pricing for the sashimi is in fair at $8-$10 with the rolls being from $4 - $12 depending on the ingredients. Hot dishes were in the mid teens. Service was very good with plate changes and drinks replaced quickly. Lounge is a great place to have a drink and watch a game. Can't comment on the table area, nice wraparound bar. Would probably go to the Yaletown location to watch a game as it seems to be a bit more game friendly.
We came to Hapa Umi because of a groupon type deal, and felt very lucky that we had found this gem. It's quite a large space, tucked into the side of the Tourism Vancouver/Tickets Tonight building. Don't give up on looking for the door - it's worth it!
Our deal gave us a three course dinner which unfortunately meant that we missed out on sushi - it looked great as it went past the table. I started with the Fanny Bay tempura oysters, nicely presented in manageable pieces with a miso vinaigrette and pickled shallots. My dining partner's beef medallion things looked pretty great, and I don't even eat much meat. Our mains were some form of deliciously tender chicken for him, and salmon for me with gnocci, vegetables, sauce. All nicely presented, great sides, delicate flavours.
We were already quite satisfied, and then came dessert. Truly, one of THE BEST desserts I've ever had the pleasure to experience. The menu undersold it as a warm chocolate cake with banana tempura and vanilla ice cream. It was actually a good sized molten lava cake, with two generous pieces of warm banana tempura on the side. The textures and tastes complemented each other in a fabulous way. The cake was topped with fresh sliced strawberries and some carmelized sugar art. There were fresh blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries, and the ice cream was very tasty. Pretty much a party on my plate.
The only negative was that they all knew we were in a rush, but the service was on the slow side. Otherwise, my highest recommendation on this place.
PS - washrooms are lovely - three small self-contained rooms for each gender!
Went there for lunch today since I found out that Hapa Umi has changed to Izakaya.
Ambiance wasn't very good as usual due to the poor noise dampening. This was expected as Hapa Umi had the same issue. They played music as well which did not help. Had to speak quite loudly just to have a conversation.
There is no more bento box, which was one of my fav selections at Umi.
Had a japanese rice curry which was priced at 12.99, which is quite a bit higher than most places so I had some expectations of a decent portion of meat. Quite disappointed when it arrived. Just a single bowl of rice and a small cup of curry which had very little meat at all. Just a few small slices. They curry flavour was good but the lack of meat makes it poor value. I was still hungry after the meal.
It also took quite a long time to try to pay the bill. Had to ask 2 different waitresses to get the bill and when asked for a split bill, it came combined.
Overall, I thought the food selection at Umi was better. Pricing is lower but not enough food for the price.
May try again to see if there is improvement.
Went there for lunch, food is just average while charging high end price, and the Hapa Izakaya tradition, portion is real small, esp. factor in the price and quality. The most disappointment is they charge $1.5 for tea. I've been to hundreds of Japanese restaurants around the world and that's the only Japanese restaurant I ever know that charge for tea. Well, $1.5 is not much, but adding the average food, overcharge price and small portion, I feel total ripoff and hit the final nail of never return for any reason.
BTW, the 3 out of the 4 server are hot. And they wear the deepest V and shortest skirt I ever saw in Vancouver restaurant. That make me feel like it's Hooter #2. And no, I still won't go there again.