If you are following me on Instagram (if not follow me! @darekultura!) you may know that I recently graduated university. One of my fellow graduates and lovely friend decided to throw a get together at Hapa Izakaya to celebrate our milestone. Getting to the restaurant was as long and tiresome as the last few years we spent in university. A portion of College Street was closed for the Taste of Little Italy. The streets were filled with people from all ages and the festival had multiple live stage performances. After bulldozing my hungry self through the crowds I finally made it at Hapa Izakaya.
Hapa Izakaya has a pretty impressive wrap sheet from being voted in the “Top Five Izakayas in North America” by Bon Appetite Magazine to winning other prestigious awards. I totally understand why. Hapa Izakaya Toronto is one of the chain restaurants part of the Hapap Izakaya chain starting at Vancouver, B.C. in 2012. They offered various selections of cold and hot tapas, pressed sushi, omakase (prix fixed menu for 2 or 4-16 people). I decided to try their Scallop Tar Tar, Japanese Arancini and Matcha Crème Brûlée.
I thought that the scallop tar tar paired nicely with the crispy wonton chips. I used the wonton chips as a vehicle to carry the scallops into my mouth. The chips added texture and salt to the dish that wasn’t too overpowering. While the karashi mustard mayo packed quite a punch, especially at your first bite and the bacon was a little too hard for me. Overall it was an okay dish, there were definitely better selections like their fish tacos (everyone in our table ordered them!).
The Japanese Arancinis were my favourite! I loved the flavour combinations in the dish. The halibut risotto was deliciously paried with the dill aioli BC trout carpaccio and capers. The dish was very well seasoned and the different components had great taste and texture. Overall I thought that it was a balanced well-composed dish with subtle yet distinct flavours from each component, well done!
Last but definitely not the least, I had the Matcha Crème Brûlée for dessert. It was a fun concept and a delicious one too! I’m sitting here repeatedly trying to describe how good it was but I’m just lost for words. I loved that the matcha crème was light and creamy, yet the brûléed sugar gave a really stark textural contrast. The matcha flavour reminded me of a matcha green tea latte, light not bitter. Overall it was a creative dessert.
On the downside, our group was seated right next to the restaurant speakers, which made talking to each other difficult. Also, the restaurant was packed and our food took quite a long time to get to our table. The wait staff was polite and accommodating but I guess with a full house and festival happening at your doorstep it’s understandable why service was slow. The food was innovative and tasted great so I would come back again to see if the service is the same on a regular day.
Check out Hapa Izakaya and let me know what you think by commenting below! 🙂