Although not open for lunch, Hapa Izakaya on Robson (with locations at Kits and Yaletown as well) is a great place to hit up for dinner.
Start off with the edamame (image above), which is marinated in their soy sauce, instead of sprinkled with salt. If you don’t like that, do what I did and ask for the dish to be done with salt only and get the soy on the side.
They are well-known for their sake served in a foot-long bamboo shoot. Unfortunately, I’m allergic to bamboo so had to settle for the more traditional serving.
From the fresh sheet, we tried the Pork Belly Lettuce Wrap. The belly is cook slowly so the meat is tender. There are some fried wonton skin strips and pickled cabbage for added crunch. How to eat it? Top a piece of butter lettuce with a slice of pork and some of the wonton skins and pickled cabbage and just roll it up. Then, let the flavours and textures mingle in your mouth.
I only like scallops in two forms, raw or dried (Chinese-style). Going with the raw theme, we also got the Scallop Roll, with white and black sesame adding an exotic touch. And I like the tobiko on top too! The mayo-based sauce is a little spicy, but not overly so.
Another off the Fresh Sheet is the Duck Hot Pot. Loaded with veggies, the earthenware pot is loaded with duck slices in a soy dashi broth. If you have leftover broth, they can add rice and egg to it and make a congee!
Once we were done, they take the pot away and return it after adding rice and egg. Hint: Save a slice of duck so you can have it when they return with the congee. This was part two of our Duck Hot Pot.
Hapa has good standbys that I will always return to, such as Ebi Mayo, Ishi Yaki and Negitoro, but troll their fresh sheet for innovative dishes that are well worth a try.