April 1, 2008



Location: 1479 Robson St, Vancouver
Telephone: 604-689-4272

The NY Times has this to say about HAPA IZAKAYA:

"Dinner comes at almost disco decibels in Robson Street's hottest Japanese "eat-drink place" (the literal meaning of Izakaya), where chefs call out orders, servers shout acknowledgements, and the maitre d' and owner keeps up a running volley to staff about the (often sizable) wait at the door. The service is fast and obliging, and the price per dish at this most entertaining of eating spots is very reasonable."

I couldn't agree more!

I've been to HAPA three times, the first was an utter disappointment, the second a vast improvement and the third extremely enjoyable. Let's talk about these visits. The first time I went there was only a few weeks after opening. The place was getting alot of buzz throughout the city and the line-up out the door was intimidating. Once we sat down, we had a few tasty appetizers but then we ordered the fish that was to be charred at the table. The inexperienced waitress came to the table with the fish and a torch, which she couldn't get to work. The fish was doused in gas, the entire table reeked and the fish itself tasted like fuel more than anything. When we talked to the manager, nothing was done, the fish wasn't replaced and the meal wasn't removed from our bill. Like I said: disappointment.

A year later, we went back with another couple and while we didn't try the fish again, we had a fantastic meal. The flavors were exciting, the staff quick & friendly, the prices high but reasonable and overall, the experience like I said, was a vast improvement.

Well, last weekend, we went again but this time with 10 people for a birthday party and again, we had a great experience. 3 appetizers (Beef Tataki, Negitoro & Tuna Carpaccio), 2 Hot Stone Rice Bowls and a shared dessert of Panna Cotte along with some sake & a Ceaser made for a great meal. The price was the same (as in it didn't go up over the year from the last time I was there), the staff was quick & friendly (at times we had three servers watching over us) and all the dishes were fresh & flavourful.

All three of these HAPA meals including drinks, taxes & tip were under $85 for my wife and I.

All three times, the restaurant was packed and all three times the restaurant was loud. Not only were the clients loud, the staff were yelling and the music was blaring. If you are in for a loud night, then you won't have an issue but if a quiet, intimate meal is your desire, than this might not be the place for you.

If you are looking for a unique Asian experience, I would recommend HAPA IZAKAYA. It's energetic and loud and the flavours are all great, just stay away from the charred fish!

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