Hapa Izakaya, Vancouver

Japanese cuisine was a must when we were planning for Vancouver for multiple reasons. It was recommended by friends and the guidebooks. I love sashimi. Seafood in Vancouver should be more fresh than Toronto. Although K kept recommending Guu, I decided to go with Hapa Izayaka on Robson Street.

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D and I started with two dishes – the Hanabi roll and the Sashimori. The Hanabi roll consists of spicy tuna, cucumber, wasabi tobiko, and spicy miso. The Sashimori was an assortment of 5 different kinds of sashimi.

The Hanabi roll was surprising from the start – especially since the server walked over with a blowtorch. She explained that it adds flavour to the roll because the wasabi tobiko snaps and gives it a spicier test. She was definitely right. The roll had a zesty, spicy flavour that we had never tried in sushi rolls before.

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Next came the Sashimori and while we were thinking that it was just sashimi, we were also ready to be surprised after the Hanabi. To say that it was delicious is an understatement. The sockeye salmon tasted more soft and fresh than what we’ve tasted before. The tuna literally melts in your mouth. The Hamachi (yellowtail tuna) is generally something I don’t like but I actually liked it this time around. The red tuna had a different (better) texture than ones in Toronto. And the striped prawns were a first for me, surprisingly good though a little slimy too.

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Our server came over to clear a plate when she asked us “Would you guys like to deep-fry the prawn heads?” We just looked at her blankly until she explained that people tend to send the heads back to deep-fry. We decided to try it – though D had already tried it before. All I have to say is that I’ve tried it but it’s not really my thing.

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As we were finishing these two plates fairly quickly, we decided to try something else on the menu. Since D had never had udon, we ordered the Mantaiko Udon that was cooked in a spicy cod roe sauce. It was not spicy, but like the Hanabi roll, had a certain zest in the sauce.

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All in all, it was a very satisfying dinner. We were very energized and happy on our walk back to the hotel – which usually is sluggish after our dinners. Like D remarked during dinner, “I would move to the west coast [just] for sushi.”

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