Friday, February 11, 2011

Dine Out Vancouver: Hapa Izakaya

As a HUGE fan of Three Course Menu's, I could not give up the yearly experience of Dine Out Vancouver.  Hundreds of restaurants offer Three (sometimes four, five, six, even nine - Yes, Banana Leaf had a nine course menu) Course Menu's concocted of the dishes they believe are top notch, at other $18, $28, and $38.

So for my first Dine Out 2011 Experience, Hapa Izakaya, a western-modern Japanese style cuisine, was my target.  The fact that they divided their menu into three menu's (vegetarian, meat, and seafood) appealed to me, therefore my friends and I decided that Hapa Izakaya on Yew would be the ideal restaurant.  Though you were allowed to choose any dishes from any menu (mix n' match).

Going to restaurants with friends is always the best, because you don't feel bad asking to try their every meal, therefore I was able to try food from all three of the mini-menu's, which I have to say, was delish.
Appetizers from the Vegetarian (Gomaae, edamame, chilled tofu - mini platter of all three) and Seafood Menu (Negitoro: finely chopped Albacore tuna belly topped with sesame oil based sauce, onions and green onions; served with garlic toast)

Yes, that's me stealing my friend's Salmon risotto croquette: dashi risotto with salmon and deep fried topped with oba mayo. And yes, it was delicious.

The Appetizer on the Vegetarian Menu was simple.  Chilled tofu (no sauce) so it was tasteless, but it tasted good when I mixed it with the Ahi Tuna Sauce (sesame sauce).  The edamame was unexpected, and in the good way.  The smokyness of it woke up my taste buds because I assumed that it would be the normal salted edamame beans.  But it had a hint of Miso, which I presume made it taste smoky.  The Gomaae was also very flavourful.  The small bits of feta cheese definitely added a little oomph to the green beans & asparagus delicately covered with the sesame sauce.

When I asked my boyfriend what his favourite part of tonight's dinner was, he didn't say "The  Meatballs and bacon" (two of his favourite things combined), or "Ishiyaki", but he said "The garlic bread."

You heard right.  The bread. (See picture above: Part of the Appetizer for the Seafood Section)
Two plates of the Kalbi: grilled BBQ short ribs marinated in sake soy

I didn't try the BBQ Short ribs, but I was told they were REALLY good, and I trust my friend's taste buds.

To finish the night, there were three orders of the Sesame cheesecake: sesame crust, topped with raspberry puree, and one order of the Crème Brulee: vanilla scented.
C'mon, you have to agree that the cheesecake looks delicious.  AND it tasted even better.  If you don't like cheesecake, no problem, this still might be a choice for you because I'm not a big fan of cheesecake at all.  The cheesecake was smooth and creamy, the crust was the perfect balance of sweetness and sesame, and with a little drizzle of raspberry puree - my mouth is watering thinking about it.

To wash that all down, how about a Hello Kitty?
Vodka, Calpis, strawberry puree and soda

Of course that's available virgin.

Last Words:  Is Hapa Izakaya worth it?  YES.

Speed: Dishes come fast, with the exception of one.
Size:  The plates are perfect for sharing, or eating yourself.
Atmosphere: Uplifting, and lively.
Overall: Why are you still reading this? Go get up and get yourself to Hapa Izakaya on Yew!

No, it wasn't THAT good, but it was high up there.  My favourite dish though is the KINOKO MESHIHot stone bowl with rice, mixed mushrooms, and iwanori (seaweed seasoning), mixed tableside, which I highly recommend you try.

So if you're looking at these pictures and thinking "Darn, I wish I went."  You can drool even more while checking out the whole menu below.
Hapa Izakaya Dine Out 2011 Menu

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