Restaurant: Hapa Izakaya
Location: Little Italy
Address: 602 College St
Price Range: $10~15
1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very Good 5: Excellent
* Japanese izakaya style
* Sharing style
* Orginally from Vancouver
* Bar seating Avail
Although Toronto is slowly catching up with the izakaya trend from Vancouver, there still isn't enough decent ones to go around. Sure, I like Guu because their food is good and is consistent, but sometimes I don't want to wait for a seat for an hour. Compared to how many ramen joints are popping up in just downtown, I am surprised not many izakayas are making it's way here to Toronto. Anyways, so that's why I was somewhat glad to hear that hapa izakaya was coming to Little Italy.
Most of you probably know that they originally opened their first location back in Vancouver where it created tremendous success and really made it's name. I was def one of those people on the wagon visiting their restaurant at least once a week when they first opened about 8~9 years ago. However, few years down the road many other izakayas opened near by that offered just as good food and I just kind of stopped going. Long story short, I was excited to try the restaurant again when they first opened so I paid a visit in September not too long after they first opened.
It was a sunday night and the restaurant was packed. Luckily I was only dining with one other friend so we didn't have to wait too long for a table. I tried to remember what were some of my favorite items from their menu back in the day and ordered few to try out.
Tokyo Iced Tea & Hello Kitty
Ordered: Sashimi Salad 1/5
* Mixed sashimi with citrus soy dressing with organic greens for $15.99. This used to be one of my favorite things to order back in the day so I was excited to try it out again. However, when this arrived, I couldn't believe what I was saw! I know we are on a different coast and maybe I shouldn't compare but this salad looked so sad with 3~4 pieces of sashimi on top. Salad was just regular greens and the dressing wasn't anything special nor were those 4 pieces of sashimi anything spectacular. It could have been those salad that Japanese restaurants give you with a lunch set. I was so disappointed and would not order this again, def not worth the $15.99. If you are interested to see how this salad is served in Vancouver, click here.
Ordered: Beef Tataki 1/5
* Lightly seared AAA beef with sesame chili sauce for $9.99. This might have been the worst beef tataki I've had in my life besides from AYCE places. Beef was dry and had paper like texture and obviously lacking in quality. If you are creating a dish with raw beef, it needs to be good quality, which obviously this was far from. Also, the sesame chili sauce didn't help either. It tasted just like Korean hot sauce and because the beef pieces were so tiny in size, it was drenched in the sauce and just wasn't pleasant.
Ordered: Aburi Saba 3/5
* Seared marinated mackerel Sashimi for $8.99. This was pretty decent but for some reason I found it to be overly salty and not so fresh.
Ordered: Ebi Mayo 2/5
* Tempura prawn with spicy mayo sauce for $9.49. This is a pretty hard dish to mess up, but it was prety disappointing. Ok, I know this post is getting a little depressing..but the tempura prawn was so soggy! It felt like it had been sitting there for awhile and they tried to cover it up with the spicy mayo sauce. With deep fried things, it's hard to displease me but this was just so wrong. Even the spicy mayo couldn't save this luke warm soggy prawn tempura.
Ordered: Ishiyaki 4/5
* Rice, minxed pork, garlic sprouts, egg, tomato, lettuce and spicy miso served in hot stone bowl $10.99. This used to be another favorite dish of mine and thank goodness it didn't disappoint. Think of it as warm BiBimBab and it should make sense to you. They bring it to the table and mix it for you and what I do it let it sit for a bit so that it makes crispy rice bits on the bottom. I really enjoy this dish a lot and it's good to order for that extra carb to fill you up.
Summary: Overall, I was quite disappointed with their food. Concept is still the same but I guess lack of seafood really brings down the quality of their dishes here in Toronto. It was much more upsetting to see how the food lacks in flavor and presentation because I know this is not how they do it in Vancouver. I know it's unfair to compare 2 different locations because the Toronto location obviously wouldn't have same access to ingredients like the Vancouver location. However, even if I didn't compare 2 different locations, just the food itself didn't impress me either. Regardless, that excuse doesn't work with me and I really can't be sympathetic with food. I would much rather wait an hour for Guu (Check out my review) or Nome (Check out my review)