3 words to describe your cuisine?
Impactful, Seasonal, Delicious

Your signature dish?
Salmon Press Sushi – chopped sockeye, avocado, daikon, miso mayo, and parmesan

What do you enjoy most about your craft?
Making people happy

Who is the unsung hero in the kitchen?
My Mother

Favourite Vancouver Food Truck?

When hiring someone for your kitchen, what is your philosophy?
Have a dream and passion

If you could have any meal in the world what would you eat?
Freshly caught, local fish and shells in Japan


You can find Chef Toshiyuki Iwai most nights at Hapa West End, with a spoon in his pocket, representing his taste for perfection. Iwai-san’s passion for cooking comes from his mother, who taught him to always consider the people who he is cooking for. To this day, his guests continue to inspire him to reach new levels of his craft and to try new things in the kitchen.

At age 18, Iwai moved from his Osaka home to the big city of Tokyo to study economics in university. It was in Tokyo where he started his culinary career, cooking part-time in a successful izakaya-style restaurant.

While working, Iwai met Canadian couple, Justin and Lea Ault, who were training to open their own izakaya in Vancouver. Intrigued by their determination and motivated by his love for the great outdoors, Iwai ventured over to the mountains of Whistler to snowboard and reconnect with the Hapa Izakaya owners. He fell in love with the landscape, diverse culture, and the people, and so, made the move to Vancouver.

For the past 9 years, Chef Iwai has perfected the art of mixing Japanese tradition with Vancouver’s modern multicultural scene, while integrating Hapa’s commitment to fresh Ocean Wise seafood and local seasonal ingredients.

The next time you’re in Hapa West End, keep an eye out for the man with the spoon!