A couple of weeks ago I blogged about a horrible dining experience at the Coal Harbour Hapa Izakaya location. The Hapa management followed up with some of us about our experience and invited our whole group back for a re-do dinner at a location of our choice, which was a nice gesture.
We decided to visit the Robson location to try something different. All of the locations have some of the same staple items like ebi mayo and chicken karaage, but they also have their own specialties and slightly different ambiance.
The hello kitty is one of their signature drinks and I have to confess, I mostly ordered this because the name was cute. The drink is made with strawberry puree, calpis, soda, and vodka. The drink was sweet and fruity, but it also had a slightly acidic tangy flavour from the calpis. If you like girly, fruity drinks, you will enjoy the hello kitty.
We ordered a bunch of oysters to begin our meal. At the Robson Hapa location they have a large selection of oysters to choose from. I’m a bad food blogger and I forget what type of oysters we ordered, but they tasted very good. They were very smooth, fresh, and clean tasting and not overly briny.
I loved the beef tataki from the Coal Habour location, but the beef tataki at this location was a disappointment. Even though it looks rare, the meat wasn’t overly tender or flavourful. They also used a spicy sriracha type sauce here instead of the ponzu, which I didn’t like as much.
One of my favourite dishes was the teriyaki mochi gnocchi. These little balls were deep fried and a bit crispy on the outside and very soft and chewy on the inside. They were covered in a sticky and sweet teriyaki sauce that actually went really well with the potato filling.
We had another oyster dish called kaki fry, which were panko breaded and deep fried Sawmill Bay oysters. I am a fan of raw oysters, but I usually avoid cooked oysters because I hate the rubbery texture they get when fully cooked. I was pleasantly surprised by these guys though as they were very delicious. The outside coating was crunchy and hot, but the oyster on the inside wasn’t actually fully cooked and so it had more of a “raw” texture. The Japanese tartar sauce served as a dip was also really good.
My other favourite dish of the night was the oyster risotto. The risotto was served in a hot stone bowl like their other rice dishes and filled with oysters, mozzarella, onions, carrots, mushrooms, green beans, and a creamy miso broth.
It sounds like there is a lot of stuff going on in this bowl, but the combination of everything was so delicious. Each bite was creamy and rich from the cheese and the miso broth. The oysters added a nice salty flavour to it and the hot stone bowl made some of the rice a bit crispy. I would highly recommend trying this dish if you want to taste something unique.
The cho waygu dish comes out with thinly sliced raw beef and a hot stone to cook them on. I love cooking meat on a hot stone because it adds a fun element and you can control exactly how much you cook it. This meat was incredibly tender and it made up for the bad aburi beef dish.
Compared to our last time at Hapa, we all had a much better experience at this location. Obviously the servers were nice to us since we were invited back, but it seemed like a more organized and positive environment. I also enjoyed all of the special oyster dishes here, so I would recommend visiting this location.
Disclosure: I did not pay for my meal.
Yes, for great oysters and fun Japanese izakaya food.