I went to this restaurant a while ago with a couple of friends with a group buying coupon. Hapa Umi is kind of new, located at Waterfront downtown Vancouver. I’ve actually never visited their izakya (Japanese bar) locations before. There are three Hapa Izakaya locations: Yaletown, Kitsilano, and Robson. By contrast, Hapa Umi is a fine Japanese restaurant with a more polished interior and dishes. Finally got to try their dishes! Their menu had a lot of Japanese fusion dishes, like appetizers, main dishes, pastas, sushi, sashimi, etc. The interior is modern and trendy with a Japanese touch ie. the black wooden textured tables. Every time a dish was brought to our table, he/she would explain what is in the dish which I found helpful because they might look very different from what you have in mind.
We started off with the Shortrib Lettuce Wrap. I liked this dish as there were a lot if different textures in there – crispy lettuce, crunchy pickled lotus root slices and rice noodles. The beef was very tender and flavourful and it delicious with the Korean chili sauce. It was a bit oily but the lettuce added freshness to it. I think this was their version of the Korean BBQ shortribs.
Next came the Organic Midori Salad. Midori just means “green” in Japanese, so this is a green salad with citrus dressing. I think the portion is quite good for the price, the greens were very fresh and dressing was refreshing.
Kakuni is a Japanese style braised pork belly dish. Usually it is just served by itself (in a bowl), but here they have paired it with seared scallops. I really enjoyed the flavours of this dish, the pork was very tender and the scallops were very sweet. I think there was also some ume (plum sauce) and it help cut the greasiness of the pork fat. This dish was well prepared and thought out. The presentation was pretty and not-your-usual Japanese plating. When I was chatting with a Japanese person about this kakuni dish, she said she was totally surprised because her image of kakuni is completely different. 😀 Maybe I should try making Kakuni some day and post it here…
The presentation for the Edamame Ravioli is quite nice. It is a fresh pasta stuffed with edamame, ricotta cheese, and tossed in a yuzu brown butter. The filling was creamy and the yuzu brown butter was a bit acidic. The yuzu taste wasn’t very prominent but it makes the brown butter feel less fattening.
The UBC Roll consists of cream cheese, unagi (roasted eel), beets, and a balsamic reduction. The flavours worked together well in the roll but texture wise, I felt that it needed something crunchy because both the unagi and cream cheese is quite soft. What I found interesting was the diced beets on top of the rolls – it tasted like dashi with lots of kastuo (dried bonito flakes) and it added more flavour to the roll.
We order the first few to start but found that the dishes were rather small so we added some more. The second round of dishes started with the Kani Pasta. Kani means “crab” in Japanese. This was a dungeness crab pasta (spaghettini) with green peas dressed in a cream sauce. This was probably one of my favourite dishes that night, the pasta was al dente and the crab meat was tasty. What I enjoyed most about it was, behold, the roasted seaweed (nori) and the green shiso leaves that was used for garnish (surprised?). The toasty seaweed was tasty because the pasta had seafood, while the basil + minty shiso leaves added a very refreshing aroma. That is just my preference because I like the flavour of shiso a lot. I usually hate green peas, but they were okay here so it is probably good for those who don’t hate them (lol).
Our second sushi roll, the Waterfront roll – grilled sockeye salmon and BBQ salmon skin with cucumber, miso hollandaise and jalapeno. I like the overall tastes and texture of this roll and personally prefer it to the UBC roll. The jalapeno did it for me, it added a punch to the mild salmon flavour. However, I didn’t get much of the miso hollandaise but I do see it.
Okay, it is about time for dessert. I ordered the Yuzu Tart, the description was very good so I wanted to try. Yuzu is a citrus fruit from East Asia and is used in many Japanese recipes. It has a unique refreshing citrus flavour, closer to orange and/or grapefruit. The almond sablee crust was very well prepared here, it had a good shortcrust texture – not tough at all. The yuzu filling had a nice tart taste and smooth texture. The blackberry sorbet had a rich fruity flavour which is well paired with the fruit notes of the Yuzu.
If you don’t see the chocolate cake, it is sitting behind the round disk. One of my friends ordered this, but I should have taken a better photo showing the cake (oh well). The warm chocolate cake was like a lava cake. I was more interested in the banana tempura – it was crispy outside and warm and soft inside, tasty.
My other friend had the Vanilla Panna Cotta with passion fruit and raspberry mousse. I tasted the panna cotta and I liked it as they used vanilla beans to prepare so it had a strong vanilla taste. The mousse was also light and had good flavour.
Our experience here was good overall, except our server seemed to have forgotten about us at times. Otherwise, we enjoyed our night and the tasty food. I think the prices were a bit high because portions were not so big. If we didn’t have the coupon it would have costed us a fortune but, they are at located at Waterfront = expensive rent.
Service: 3/5 (we felt left out at times)