Of course with the ramen and izakaya craze in Toronto, I’ve had a fair share of these. But I’m now reviewing Hapa Izakaya, which is a cute shop in the middle of little italy. Hapa Izakaya hails from Vancouver and currently only has one shop in Toronto.
I was greeted by a very cute waiter, who could not pronounce “Irasshaimase” if his life depended on it. Nonetheless, he led us to where our party was seated on this dreadful, rainy day.
We came here for their half-price hapas, which run from 5:30pm to 6:30pm every day. We only ordered from this Hapa Hour menu.
Since it was my friend’s birthday, some of us got drinks. I was of course drawn in by the Yuzu Slush. My friend had the Harajuku girl. We got the tuna avocado salsa dip. When my friends ordered this I wasn’t too excited. Boy, was I wrong! This dish was quite amazing. It had a perfect balance of everything, and we all wanted seconds. Definitely recommend this!
We obviously ordered Ebi-mayo, and it was a little disappointing. It had this weird fried batter under the excellent mayo, and made the texture very bizarre. The batter became this mushy mess and it was not good. The shrimp was okay.
We also got the Karaage, which was okay. Again their batter is not the best and was not a dish that I would recommend.
Baja-roll was again something that I didn’t really think was going to be good. It wasn’t. I did not like how the spiciness of it just jumped out at you like it wanted to slice your throat. There was no balance and no harmony. Just spicy and weird combinations.
I did not look forward to the Curry Mali we ordered but was pleasantly surprised. I am not a fan of Japanese curry and thus I didn’t think this would taste very good. But the flavour was not too strong, and the squid was pretty good. Not too chewy (which makes me gag).
Spicy Pork Ishi-yaki was ordered as a filler in case the tapas weren’t too filling. We were quite wrong about this and were actually all stuffed. But we all got a small serving of this anyway. It was definitely a pretty good dish. Nothing too amazing or extravagant. A decent choice.
Overall the experience was only good because I had good company. The waiters and waitresses were very amateur, and had no knowledge of Japanese cuisine (traditional or modern) at all. I’m someone who loves the authenticity of a certain cuisine, and is more into the food when the atmosphere matches what I’m eating. At this venue, they were just interested in people spending money, have drinks and be off, instead of having a great dining experience. I don’t highly recommend this place, but their hapa hour is pretty cheap and is great if you have a larger party.
Atmosphere: trying to be Japanese Izakaya
Price: $10-30 depending if you make it to hapa hour