Contest: Win a $50 Hapa Izakaya Gift Certificate


Japanese izakaya joints have sprouted all over Vancouver, and its fusion cooking is a welcome change from the sushi spots found every third block. Hapa Izakaya plays up its fusion identity; after all, hapa means “leaf” in Japanese and “half” in Hawaiian. After working up an appetite sun-soaking in Kits beach last week, I found myself enjoying Hapa’s casual atmosphere and diverse menu, which ranged from crunchy non-greasy gyozas to the cooled creaminess of the tuna belly negitoro. Here are the entrees that stood out to me:

The amaebi ($10.50) was a delightful surprise. The raw BC spot prawn meat itself was underwhelming, not quite as clear and firm as I’d like. But the accompanying deep fried shrimp heads made up for my disappointment, as they were so savoury and crisp. Out of everything I’ve had in Hapa Izakaya, the shrimp heads were probably my favourite — I didn’t even know I liked shrimp heads before I had them there.

Another one of my favourite entrees is the ika maruyaki ($7.20), which is grilled squid marinated in sake, soy sauce, and garlic. The squid was tender, nothing like the tough or gummy texture I dreaded. The marinade also provided an even, smoky taste. Since I’m certain I’ve never had squid like this before, I asked the kitchen staff about it, and all they could tell me is that it’s from Japan, and it’s a common streetfood or snack to go with beer.

The cho Wagyu is a novelty entree more than anything, but it was nevertheless a fun dish: well-marbled slices of Wagyu beef were accompanied by a hot stone slab for cooking. Grill a few minutes on the hot stone (don’t overdo it!), top with a couple slices of dried garlic chips, and the thin beef slices will dissolve like butter on your tongue.

Gindara saikyo yaki ($10.50) is baked sablefish marinated in sake and miso, and it has the distinction of being the signature dish of celebrity chef Nobu Matsuhisa. Sablefish (the fish formerly known as black cod) is succulent, and it’s really hard to go wrong with it. The miso enhances the mild-flavoured flakiness of sablefish. If you win the gift certificate, I really recommend trying out this dish.

To win the $50 gift certificate, just leave a comment on this post. Winner will be drawn next week on Tuesday, May 25, at 6 pm.

Last modified: May 20, 2010

95 Responses to " Contest: Win a $50 Hapa Izakaya Gift Certificate "

  1. Textura loves Hapa Izakaya. We frequent and recommend to our clients Hapa Izakaya for a fantastic Japanese Fusion experience.

  2. David Huang says:

    This is one of the best izakaya in Vancouver among the others. Highly recommended!

  3. Travis says:

    Try the kakuni pork next time you go. 🙂

  4. Bellyup says:

    There is nothing better than a stone bowl baked for hours in an oven then filled with delicious glutinous rice… My mouth is watering.. Pick me! 

  5. Kim says:

    Hapa makes me happy. Pretty please hook me up with a gift certificate. I promise to love every mouth watering bite!

  6. Marc says:

    Hapa is one of my favorite spots in kits when looking for something more than the typical sushi. A combo lunch box just doesn’t bring the same food joy as what they have to offer.

  7. Carol says:

    I would love to try this restaurant!
    Vancouver resident

  8. Carmen says:

    I’ve been meaning to try this restaurant! Would love the chance to (:

  9. virg says:

    It’s funny I walk by Hapa all the time and heard a lot about it, but never end up going. Would love to try it. 🙂

  10. eddyautomatic says:

    I’ve been on three dates at Hapa Izakaya. It just seems like the right kind of place for a date I guess! I didn’t get laid after any of them though… Actually, scratch that, I did after one of them.


  11. Nazanin says:

    I’ve never been to Izakaya since last May that I moved to Kits. This would be a great motivation to try it now!

  12. Tracy says:

    I always have fun whenever i go to hapa!

  13. Stephanie says:

    Sounds yummy! I’d like to try it out.

  14. tp says:

    I’ve never been to any of Hapa Izakaya’s location, but would love to try since it is highly recommended by many of my friends.

  15. Heather says:

    why was black cod renamed sablefish?

  16. Rob says:

    I’ve got to try this place out even if I don’t win! Sounds amazing!

  17. Mary says:

    Have never tried izakaya – would love to try it!

  18. Jenn W says:

    I love Japanese! I would love to try a new place 🙂

  19. Cathy says:

    I can’t say I have ever eaten just a shrimp head but I’d being willing to try it!

  20. Devon says:

    Never been to Hapa Izakaya!

  21. Jen Cu says:

    After hearing rave reviews about this restaurant, I was finally able to try it myself for the first time at their new Yaletown location. The verdict, it did not disappoint. Just waiting for the next time when I can dine at Hapa again.

  22. Terra says:

    Yummm.. I want some Hapa right now..

  23. Jackie says:

    I THINK I’ve seen/heard about it but have never tried it. Looks delicious!

  24. Jay Reyes says:

    Hapa is it!

  25. Gary MItford says:

    I love this restaurant. Yet to try the new Yaletown location.

  26. Jodi S says:

    I have been wanting to try this place!

  27. katherine says:

    Arigato 🙂

  28. Dilara says:

    OMG I love Hapa!!

  29. Tien says:

    Hapa Izakaya is second on my list of Vancouver Izakayas to frequent. Plus Alpha comes before, and Guu after Hapa.

    I will admit though, I find the Kits location best for overall experience although I have yet to visit the new Yaletown one.

  30. Anita says:

    Have heard great things about this place and keep meaning to check it out. My mouth is watering from all the photos! This weekend, I will make dining there a priority!

  31. Kenny pak says:

    I love hapa. And I work at kits. That’s a great combo.

  32. Diane says:

    I just moved into the neighborhood and have been really wanting to try this place. I’ve heard great things about it!

  33. Jonathan says:

    It’s not even 9 a.m. yet, but after seeing these photos, all I can think about is fitting this restaurant into my weekend plans. Those photos are look very appetizing!

  34. Sheila says:

    We’ll have to venture down the hill and check it out.

  35. Laura says:

    Sounds delicious. Would love to check it out!

  36. Christine says:

    I live it Kits and would love to try it out! Thanks for the contest!

  37. Susan says:

    Love this restaurant, one of my favorite Kits spots

  38. Mary says:

    Mmmm, I’d love to try it out!

  39. Carlos says:

    Ooh, I’ve never been to HI, but I’ve always wanted to!!

  40. Amy says:

    ohh wow, looks delicious! i’ll need to try this place soon!

  41. Sherry says:

    Deep fried shrimp heads?! Sign me up. Haven’t been to Hapa, yet… Cheers.

  42. Nabou says:

    When you walk in to the restaurants all the stff yells a Welcome (Irasshaimase!) . A lot of energy and a lot of wonderful food at Hapa!

  43. Rosie says:

    Yes please. Cheer me up; I’ve just discovered I can’t extend my visa. I think some Japanese fusion would just about make up for that. Ta.

  44. Melissa says:

    Yum! the rice bowls are my favourite!

  45. Julie says:


  46. Angie Schick says:

    Vancouver is lucky to have so many good izakayas. Kingyo on Denman is my #1, but in Kits I like Dan (not a traditional izakaya), and Zakkushi. But sign me up for the contest!

  47. carolyn says:

    love it!

  48. Mike Jones says:

    I live about 4 blocks from the Kits location.. It’s a great date place! I just need to meet more girls and I’ll be at Hapa alot more often

  49. Lisa Jones says:

    I’ve had the week from hell and bills are flooding through my letterbox, dinner at what sounds like a yummy restaurant, is currently just a pipe dream for me…:-(!

  50. charlotte604 says:

    I love fusion food and now I’m dreaming because of the pix 😛

  51. sean says:

    Once you become a hapatonian you won’t go anywhere else for japanese/asian inspired tapas.

  52. rb says:

    i’ve never been,
    but it looks yummy.

  53. Corey Dilley says:

    Looks great. I’d love a gift certificate!

  54. John says:

    Love the restaurant reviews, always looking for more places to eat!

  55. Vic says:

    gotta try these shrimp heads!

  56. Gloria says:

    I went yesterday for dinner and had a blast, I love the place!!

  57. Stefan says:

    That food looks amazing, got to try it out.

  58. N Kim says:

    I Love their food 🙂

  59. colleen says:

    oooh~~ Hapa gc’s?? In the immortal words of a most annoying cat, I can haz?

  60. Dagmar says:

    I live right at the Kitsilano one and have never been. Being from Europe Asian food is still a challange to me sometimes but I want to try more different Asian styles. So please I need the gift certificate.

  61. Christine C. says:

    I went to Hapa Izakaya downtown once, a long time ago. It was – sublime! I would love to make my next visit with a gift certificate in hand….but I think no matter what I’ve got to go soon to try the shrimp heads!

  62. quanvon says:

    yum yum, only been once, but it was deelish! would love to go again!

  63. Jake says:

    I love this restaurant.

  64. richard says:

    Mmm, looks so good!

  65. Janice says:

    The food made me hungry!

  66. Janice says:

    The food make me hungry!

  67. kelsey says:

    never been but always wanted to try!!!

  68. christine says:

    Those pictures look soo delicious. I’ll have to try it sometime!

  69. Laure says:

    Whouha I went there last night and it’s was delicious! Will go back for sure!

  70. i am new to this area, and never tyred this place. I would Like to win This Coupon so i can take my Mom for some lunch and quality time.

  71. C. says:

    The pictures are making me hungry. I would love to win this to try it out.!=)

  72. Clara says:

    Oh I’m going to have guests coming into town next month and they are going to LOVE Happa!

  73. kl says:

    love having this place in the neighborhood:)

  74. Zoe says:

    The pictures look amazing!

  75. Sanaz says:

    I love the food at Hapa:)

  76. Nazanin says:

    I really want to try Hapa Izakaya : )

  77. Yuki says:

    I really want to check them out. Looks delicious.

  78. will says:

    would love to win!

  79. Sylvie says:

    I love the food at Hapa, the service is great and atmosphere is very lively. Hope I would win this.

  80. superjen says:

    mmm, the grilled squid = happiness.

  81. Steph says:

    Would love to try this out sometime!

  82. Jess says:

    Love it! May have to go again this week!

  83. LB says:

    I’ve gone by Hapa Izakaya so many times but for some reason have never made it in!

  84. AF says:

    sounds delicious!!!

  85. Kathy says:

    Love the Mackerel Sushi!!!!

  86. Kelly says:

    Can’t get enough of the ebi mayo! So good.

  87. Robin says:

    Mmmm hapa sushi! Yes please!

  88. AH says:

    Love Hapa, was so happy when they opened in Kits! <3 the hello kitty cocktail !

  89. tamasin says:

    Mmm, would love to try this place!

  90. Rita says:

    I’ve only gone a couple times, but love the food and atmosphere!

  91. Frances says:

    To Heather M who asked why black cod was renamed sablefish:

    Marketing move. I dined at Hapa with seafood marketing specialist Eric Ackerson who works for Seavent, and he said that sablefish sounds luxurious while black cod sounds cheap and common.

    No, seriously. I’m still waiting for the day that narwhal becomes unicornfish meat. 🙂

    Thanks everyone for participatingin the contest.

  92. Henry says:

    Always wanted to try this place out, but just haven’t the chance yet.

  93. lee says:

    It would be nice to win. I’m a starving Actor.