Hapa Izakaya is a chain of Japanese izakaya style restaurants that has locations around Vancouver. Surprisingly, I have never visited one before even though I love this style of food. I finally had the chance to try the Coal Harbour location with a bunch of people after another food event we attended in the area.
Normally I am not one to complain about service because I am not picky. As long as you don’t keep me hungry and give me my food I am happy. Unfortunately the service that we received at Hapa was one of my worst experiences ever.
Our waitress immediately greeted us with the most sour-puss face and curt attitude I have ever seen from a server. She was invisible for the rest of the evening and impossible to track down. She forgot to bring us one of the dishes we ordered and she never cleared any of our plates. We had a stack of five dirty plates just sitting on our table in the middle of our meal and we had to ask another server to clear them for us. Our drinks were never refilled and she never asked us how anything was for the whole meal. When we wanted to pay we actually saw the waitress leaving the restaurant in her coat and she never appeared again. Another waitress then tried to charge us an automatic 18% tip for the most inattentive “service” we had ever received. This bothered me so I asked them to remove it and they complied but we received a bitchy attitude for the remainder of our experience. Why would I throw my money at you if you are rude and can’t even do your job properly?
Okay my rant is over. Now I will try to give an unbiased opinion on the food. The beef tataki ($9.99) was very good and it was one of my favourite items of the night. The beef was lightly seared and it had the perfect shade of pink to it. The beef was topped with sesame chili sauce and some little crispy things. I forget what they were, but they added a nice little crunch.
The sockeye salmon sashimi ($10.99) was also very good and the fish tasted fresh. The size of the sashimi pieces was adequate and what you would expect for sockeye. I think I could eat sockeye salmon sashimi every day and not get sick of it.
The pork belly lettuce wraps ($9.49) comes with pieces of crispy pork belly, wonton chips, pickled red onions, apple yuzu jam, and butter lettuce.
This was a fun dish and probably the best lettuce wraps I have had. The pork belly was crisp on the outside and fatty and tender on the inside. I also really liked that they didn’t use iceberg lettuce like most other places do. It gave the wraps a different and more unique flavour and texture and it seemed better quality.
The ebi mayo ($8.99) wasn’t exactly what I expected it to be. I was expecting more mayo on the plate (like at the Guu Restaurants) so I was slightly disappointed in that. The shrimp were still pretty good though, just not as ridiculously indulgent and creamy as I was hoping for.
The chicken karaage ($8.99) here was another great item. The boneless pieces of chicken are incredibly juicy and tender and not over cooked at all. They are lightly tossed in a soy ginger sauce, which kicks the flavour up a notch from
The renkon gyoza tempura ($7.99) was like a flat gyoza dumpling filled with minced pork and lotus root and them deep fried. I really liked the lotus root inside of the gyoza because it gave it a crunch and it made them more interesting than your standard gyoza.
Lastly we had the yaki udon, which was the most disappointing dish of the day. The dish was supposed to come with chicken, but we were given tofu instead without ever being told. I like tofu too, but they should have at least asked us if this was okay. The whole thing tasted rather bland and it reminded me of something someone would throw together with left overs in their fridge at home and not a restaurant quality dish.
I was extremely disappointed in our experience at Hapa. The food was pricy, but pretty good for the most part. Unfortunately the horrible service ruined the experience and would make me never come back. If you are thinking about going here, don’t. There are so many better Japanese restaurants in the city (like the Guu restaurants or Suika) that have much better service and food that is just as good or better.
No, the service is atrocious.