Hapa Izakaya is a reasonably priced, funky Japanese tapas restaurant on Robson Street.
We always order the same items on girls night-outs! Grilled chicken salad, cheese tofu, om rice, yakiudon........For some reason, this combination really fills us up and the variety satisfies us and we don't seem to get tired of it :) Definitely a favorite! It gets quite busy though so we always try to go during their "off" times after the dinner rushes, or book ahead.
My first visit to Hapa (Kitsilano) was not a good experience at all, however I was forced back for a second visit for a friend's birthday at the Robson location and it was waaaay better. The birthday girl, having spent 3 years in Japan teaching English, had recommended that we all order the Omakase as it would be a better value for our large group. I was very pleasantly surprised with the quality and the quantity of the food. The Omakase came with Edamame and one choice of salad, plus 9 entrees all for $30. My favorites were the sable fish, negitoro, and ebi may. Since I do not eat red meat, I was not able to eat all of the entrees (2 were red meat) but I was still quite full at the end. The Hello Kitty drink is a must try too.
I probably will never go back to the Kits location, but will definitely visit the Robson location again.
Hapa Izakaya on Robson was disappointing. Our first (and last) time there. The ebi salad, mixed greens with sesame ginger type dressing some slivers of almond, like half an avocado and a few shrimp. Ebi mayo, decent, standard 6 out of 10. "Chicken" udon had 5 dime sized flakes of chicken and for presentation I would give it a fail. Sablefish, too fishy to have been all that fresh and really uninspired. Chicken karaage was also decent, a little sweetness to it reminiscent of the korean chicken found typically in Oahu. I think that was the only saving grace of the meal. Oh, and the Asahi. Guu is much better for flavour and freshness, quality and execution.
(if you want the cliffnotes version skip to paragraph 3)
Hapa Izakaya on Robson is an interesting little place. If you aren't looking for it, you might just walk past its nondescript outer walls.
Once inside, however, you find yourself in a dimly lit and classy looking place while being greeted by the oft-heard "Irashai!". Expectations at this point are usually quite high, as you see an array of pretty Asian waitresses prancing about. After being seated, you are served a warm, moist towel to clean your hands and as the waitress hands you a menu and directs you to a sheet of hand-written fresh specials, your anticipation is almost palpable.
HOWEVER, as you'll soon discover, Hapa is more of a deceptive facade than anything. The food is good, not great however, especially for the price it carries. Some dishes are quite good, while others are uninspired. The waitresses are beautiful and they seem to be more interested in making sure you know that than providing good service. Service has been hit and miss for me, as I've visited Hapa a number of times. I've had really good service, but most of the time the service has been without a smile and not much enthusiasm. The best aspect of the restaurant, I'd say, is the ambiance. It is a swanky looking place.
However you'll soon find that there isn't really anything super special about anything else.
The description says 'funky', but truly there is nothing funky about this place at all. It's pretentious, really. The only time I ever go to Hapa is if someone else invites me to go there, or all the other izakayas near the area are packed solid.
This night started with my lovely girlfriend and I deciding to dine at a Japanese restaurant. After hearing recommendations from my co-workers we decided to give it a try. We were greeted by a busy waitress who asked us if we wanted to grab a spot at the bar since it would be a 45 minute wait for a table. So we gladly took the seat and absorbed the ambiance. It was quite loud at the bar as the chefs shout out the order everytime a waitress brings it in. It is also quite dark inside, we almost walked right by the place.
Anyway, for the food itself we ordered the King Crab roll, Lamb chops, Ebi Mayo and the Ishi-Yaki (which is the rice in a stone bowl).
The King Crab Roll was quite nice with a nice savory sauce. The amount of rolls for the price was about right, but if you are really hungry, you may need to have two orders.
The Ebi Mayo was good, but it was not spectacular. It was a standard tapa.
The Rice bowl we had was unmemorable, it was just average but filling.
However, the lamb chop was surprisingly good at an Asian restaurant. It was cooked medium rare and served with some type of a sweet and sour sauce.
All in all, we do recommend this place, whether you are craving Japanese or want to impress a date. The food is good but not spectacular.
A side note, we actually came back another day around 8:30 and there was 2 couples ahead of us. We requested a table of 4 and were bluntly told that it was "not going to happen". So we went to Ebisu instead but that's another story.
I went to Hapa on a Sat night with a group of ten people. We had a large round table which is immediately to your left when you enter. I had just sat down with friends who arrived beforehand when a rather large overly-siliconed woman came up to me and told me I had to remove my shoes at this table. I thought this odd, as we were obviously at an open table and not in a Tatami room, so I asked a reasonable question, why am I removing my shoes? To which, Testosteroned Hostess Girl answered rudely, "because" (period), which comment was accompanied by a glare that said she was ready to 'go' over the issue if pressed. So, I hesitantly and unhappily removed my very expensive, one-of-a-kind Ralph Lauren shoes, with a classic straight 3 3/4" wooden heel, that made the ensemble'. Nuff said. They were immediately whisked away from my table and chucked (I mean thrown) under a bench at the bar, my having no idea where to find them. At that point, I was told that, in order for me to walk across the restaurant to use the washroom and not get my bare feet dirty on their floor, I would be generously provided with a pair of ‘community’ flip-flops (sorry, but that is disgusting). Whoever thought that this little brainstorm, neglected to consider the rather highly suspect hygiene issue in sharing thongs worn by strangers, not to mention that servers handling your shoes and your food is a Health and Safety complaint right there. Rather than wedge my toes where others had been, I chose to walk the dirty floor to find my own shoes, dig them out from underneath the seat of someone sitting at the bar (who’s butt was too near my face for my comfort zone at that point). All this in order to make an otherwise simple trip to the washroom. I’m pissed about the shoes. We get that by now, but more upset with the rudeness of the Hostess and her disdain for a paying customer. For a table of 10 people, we had quite a few servers. Four—plus one cranky large Hostess. However, not one of them could remember to bring me a glass of water, which I had to ask for four times. Whenever food arrived at our table it was ‘launched’ to whomever was closest and we were left to determine not only what it was, but who ordered it, and pass it around ourselves. It was very confusing for a large table and less that acceptable service. Now the food part: I admit, I am one girl who is a bit of a snob with my Japanese food and my standards are high. The food at Happa was mediocre to poor. The tuna gomae was sprinkled with feta cheese (huh?). A friend ordered a chicken dish that he described and resembling KFC (only with a much higher price tag). Another friend ordered the salmon sashimi, which was extremely overpriced for the 4 skinny slivers of daintily curled up salmon he was served—which was in the $30 price range I believe. The King Crab roll, which contained something tempura, was sopping with grease and obviously cooked at too low a heat (awful). I will also mention, whenever I have been at a nice restaurant, with this same price-point, and a drink is accidentally spilled, the House replaces the drink, no charge. Don’t expect the same courtesy at Hapa. To end my report, I have to say I will never return. The only thing they got right is their name. Definition: HAPA - portion, fragment, part: to be a portion, less (Eng., half.)
I went here yesterday with a group of 11 and it was great! Service was amazing - really top notch! They were always attentive and brought drinks/food shortly after we ordered. The Hello Kitty drink is good - as is their new Strawberry Sake Margarita. We did the set menu which came with 11 or so dishes for $30/person so we really got a good variety. Fish + chicken were cooked perfectly and all the dishes were so tasty and we were all extremely full by the end. Decor was great too. I'd definitely come again!
We used to go here often that we pretty much memorized the menu. After a break, we decided to back to our usual spot and to our surprise they changed the menu. We were dissapointed when they removed most of our favorite items. Plus the other items we would settle for weren't available. it was a consistent trend that they would run out of items on their menu. Perhaps do a better a job on your purchase ordering.
On the plus note, it is a great place to have drinks, girls are pretty etc. Sake
I've been to this restaurant on countless occasions. And the three things that never change here is the great atmosphere, delicious spin on foods, and that they are constantly very busy!
For some past reviewers, it may be a good thing for them to know, that they take reservations from 5:30pm-7pm. From about 7pm onward, they leave for the walk-ins. So if you plan on popping into the restaurant, I strongly suggest making a reservation as many reviewers have said that they were rushed.
The food is a great twist on Japanese food! I am Japanese, and there have been certain restaurants that try to take on that new "twist" with the Japanese food...and most of the time..it fails horribly..as it seems they couldn't make the original dish right..and tried to add random things in order to fix the problem and then labelling it as fusion food. Hapa has a great twist, and great food! I strongly recommend their ebi-mayo (deep fried shrimp with their spicy mayonnaise sauce!) - absolutely delicious.
They've recently renovated, and it looks great! The location might be a bit hard to realise if you haven't been there before. It's not the most *flashiest* restaurant over there. As it is all painted black and at the corner! ENJOY!
I used to go to Hapa Izakaya quite a bit but haven't been lately. I re-visited for the first time in long time and was a little bit unhappy. The service was not as good as it used to, food was just o.k. I think since they open new hapa food and quality has not been the same. dissapointed
Service and food quality not particularly consistent. One evening could be perfection itself, with outstanding service from attentive servers along with sumptious dishes. Other evenings, the food quality would be so-so paired with horrendous ignorance from servers who seem more mindful of their appearance than tending to your needs.
When it's good, it's great. When it's bad, it's awful.
Place was alright... I think it was overrated. Definately had better izakaya style food. But the rice cooking in the hot clay bowl was good. Other then that.. the waitress didn't know much about the food or the wine. Could go back.
The first time I went to Hapa, the meal was awful, the service poor and the ambiance less than memorable... that was two years ago.
I recently went there again as part of a party of four and I am glad I did. While the prices are a bit high for the amount of food you get, there is no denying that the flavor and presentation are solid. Each dish (out of the 13 that we all shared) was tasty in their own unique ways, the service was much improved and Justin (I believe he was the manager) was an extremely gracious host.
We will definitely go back!
We checked out this place with a client. I had a Hello Kitty drink and the boys had the house saki that comes in the bamboo flask while we waited for a table. They were so good! I don't eat seafood but really enjoyed the chicken dishes and the spinach salad. The boys ordered the ahi (twice!),oysters, and a seared fish...they raved about it. This place is loud but very fun! We ordered the most expensive bottle of saki on the menu to try it...and honestly we enjoyed the house saki more! Great fun place to go with friends! I'd go back in a heart beat...the food is great for the low price and the service is fun and attentive.
Great food, good service and an entertaining venue. I enjoyed the tapas although I am not a big mayo and ranch dressing fan and would have preferred a few more dishes without these features. The cold Saki was great and the food was prepared quickly. We were checked on many times through our meal. The prices are very reasonable for the quality of the dishes. I enjoyed the Korean rice dish immensely. I will go back, and maybe I'll say its my birthday to see if lack of birthday courtesy warned of below still exists.
We went in for some drinks and was great until they totally forgot that I ordered another beer. The server who asked me if I wanted more beer was just walking around for a while and we just decided to get the bill. When the bill came, we didn't have exact change plus tip, so we were waiting for change. When we asked where our change was, the responce that we got was "Just so you know, the service fee is not included in the bill." I am a server myself and I KNOW how it works... I hate servers who shows that they want massive tip. HATE THEM. Change is always given, unless otherwise told. It just ruined my night and the whole hype about this Izakaya. Never going back.
One of the best Japanese restuarants that I've been to! The food is truly outstanding. The prices are a little high, but for the service and quality of food, I think it's totally worth it!
Definetly a place to try for all Japanese food lovers!
We happened across Hapa one night walking down Robson st and as we walked by the restaurant, someone was going into it and we heard all these screams and wondered what the heck was going on in there. I tried to look in the windows but as anyone who has been before knows, that's impossible as they are blacked out! We went in the front door and even though we didn't have dinner there that night, we sat and had drinks and enjoyed ourselves immensely! We promised ourselves we'd go back for dinner and have probably 10 times since then. Great menu with lots of choice and we love the atmosphere. Great place to take friends from out of town! In our top 3 restaurants in the city along with Relish and Wild Rice!
When you walk in the door you are greeted by the entire staff in Japanese, which is your first indication that Happa is unlike any place you have been before. This is Japanese pub food and it is not played down for Western tastes, so I would recommend that you be comfortable with Asian food. Try the pork and steamed buns, it is awesome, as is the deep fried prawns with salad dressing. The sushi and sashimi although good, is different then would you would find in a normal Japanese restaurant, so talk to your friendly server to avoid surprises. Everyone I have taken here has really enjoyed it and it is now one of the places I go to regularly.
If you love japanese tapas, cheese, and creamy food. This is the place to go. Not only the food, they also serve tasty tiramisu and creme brulee. Guys will love this place so much since 80% of the waitresses are gorgeous (this coming from a straight girl ^_^).