Hapa Izakaya (Robson)
1479 Robson St Map
Clearly, with all of the attention this long standing location has received over the years in local publications as well as by online bloggers, it would perhaps seem strange to some that there has not been a post made here on foodosophy, despite our group’s well known love for the izakaya genre.
I cannot attest to the experience of the other contributors here, but personally, I must have passed by the front of this business 20~30 times over the last several years. And among these, I can only recall stepping inside to check out the scene and/or consider dining inside, mainly out of curiosity, a handful of times. Its just never really struck me as a place I need to check off my dining list. For whatever reason.
Further, I can count on one hand the number of occasions when I made my mind up to really taste the food/sample the drinks here, but decided to turn around after some very spotty service – mainly the lack of attention from any of the staff upon stepping inside and vocally/visually making signs that I wanted to be seated. I can clearly recall this happening at least three times now. And on this last visit, it happened again.
But we stuck around trying to get someone to see us waiting, going beyond my usual patience level. Even flagging down one of the wait staff and being told she’d be back, only to be ignored again. After literally grabbing the next girl that came near us and demanding we get a table (there were several open), we were finally seated.
So you can see, my early impressions are not at all positive.
The inattentive service really soured my feelings towards the quick sampling we were to do. As it was the last visit of a three-stop izakaya crawl along Robson Street that evening, my appetite was waning, which did not help things. I grudgingly trudged on however, as my dining mates opted for more drinks and tried to wrap up their gastronomic adventure with some sweeter treats from Hapa’s dessert choices. I, on the other hand, wanted to at least try something from their dinner menu.
The agedashi tofu was quite petite. A lot more broth than tofu substance in terms of the bowl’s balance. Would have preferred some more oroshi daikon to infuse the broth. Visually, a trio of slices of the raw radish would have been nice too. Delicate in its coating and texture though, the tofu itself was nicely executed. The broth had a nice savory flavor, a touch heavy perhaps in its overall viscosity and clearly a notch sweeter than I’m used to when it comes to this Japanese side dish.
Its a small sample size I realize. So I have to reserve a fuller opinion on the food until a future date (if it ever comes).
I’d really like to keep an open mind and consider returning, but the number of times I’ve been ignored at the entrance and the out-of-place clothing choices of the waitresses which really throws me for a loop (but from what I read, is a big draw for some of the younger, testosterone filled crowd) as I don’t really make the connection to a true izakaya setting, I’m just not sure.
Sorry for the downer of a post, maybe its the fall season and colder temps that has me in a subdued mood. At least, Hapa can’t say they’ve been ignored by me now. Wish I could say the same.