When Hapa Izakaya first opened its doors in 2003, its menu of izakaya—small plates and Japanese-style pub cuisine—was a welcome shift from the sushi joints already part of the Vancouver dining scene. The eatery now shares its popular hot and cold tapas, such as ebi mayo (tempura prawns tossed in spicy mayo), at five locations, including Kitsilano, and has won several awards, including the Silver Award for Best Casual Chain from the _ Vancouver Magazine_ Restaurant Awards and 2012 Readers Choice for Best Izakaya from Straight.com. Guests can opt for tapas plates or rice and noodles from the standard menu, or try the executive chefs’ nightly fresh sheets inspired by local produce and seafood.
Along with its trademark Japanese comfort food, Hapa Izakaya has garnered great reviews for its stylish dark interior and social atmosphere. The staff greets patrons with energetic calls of “irasshaimase!” ("Welcome!") as they enter, and says “mata irasshai!” as they leave, which translates to “please come again,” or “your shoes are filled with soy sauce.” Hapa Izakaya is also involved with seafood conservation, having been part of the Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise program since 2010.