gracecheung604 | write on time: Hapa - Quick lunch

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Hapa - Quick lunch

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One sunny afternoon when I was all alone in my department at work, not a boss was stirring...I snuck off for a quick lunch at Hapa Izakaya in Yaletown. This is their only location that is open for lunch and I was eager to try their food, sans the alcohol!
Started the meal off with two of their Chopped Scallop Cones. Normally, I hesitate to order hand rolls, because usually stuff the bottom with rice and just give you a bit of sashimi at the top. Well, there was a lot of chopped scallop at the top, so much so that the cone is very top heavy. Pick it up from both ends if you don't want the filling to end up all over the plate!
I was really happy to see large chunks of scallop and not an overdose of mayonnaise. And to their credit, there was scallop bits right down to the bottom. Yes, I know, I should have taken a picture of that, but as I was too busy musing out loud at my delight of the goodness at the bottom. Next time, promise.
Now, I love hot stone bowl rice, doesn't matter if it's Korean, Chinese or Japanese, but I usually have to have meat in it. My all-time favourite is their Ishiyaki, which is their stone bowl rice with pork, chives, lettuce, egg and garlic chips. To take the road less travelled, I varied from the tradional and got their Kinoko Meshi, which is made with mixed mushrooms and seaweed seasoning, sort of a vegetarian option. It's so you, you don't miss the pork at all, and this from a meat-lover! The motion in this is from the server, who mishes and mashes the rice and toppings tableside, sizzling goodness at its best.
When they are finished, the spread the rice onto the walls of the bowl, that's why you can see the bottom of it in this photo above. The reason? When you let the rice climb the walls, everything that touches against the wall gets nice and crispy. The longer you wait, the crispier it gets...but it's hard to wait!
I mixed up the rice again so you can see just how full the bowl really is...easily enough for four people to share as a small side. If you like it spicy, as for some hot sauce on the side...but you don't really need it. It's perfect comfort food for a cold day! If you don't see this on the menu and aren't a vegetarian, get the Ishiyaki, you won't regret it.
Another dish that I wanted to try was their Pork Belly lunch special. It's slow cooked pork belly with some veggies, mustard and steamed chinese bun. If you're a frequent reader, you'll know how much I love to play with my food.
Topped with loads of green onions, the pork is so tender, reminds of the stewed pork you get an some Asian restaurants, complete with the huge chunks of so-bad-for-you but tastes-so-good fatty bits!
These buns are just like the buns that you get when you order Steamed BBQ Pork Buns at Chinese bakeries. Semi-sweet, soft and pillowy. This is obviously Hapa's version...Be sure to use some of the mustard they give you, just a touch though, it's pretty potent stuff.
Two sides accompany the BBQ Pork bun, the cold side was the Salad. I was so full from the cones and rice, but I still made myself eat some of the greens. I'll probably skip the dressing next time though, I like my greens sans creamy dressings.
And the ubiquitous Miso Soup. Despite having been to all the Hapa locations repeatedly, I have never actually tried their miso soup. It's just not something I would order, I guess.
Oh yes, and the finished product of me playing with my food - yummy fatty pork, lettuce, mustard all wrapped in a soft chewy bun.
Note: I'm not sure if this is still on the menu, but a close substitute is the Pork Belly Lettuce wrap...read the review here.
Hapa Izakaya (Yaletown) on Urbanspoon

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