“Happy hour’s ideal companion: The 10 best bargain bites in Vancouver – [Hapa Hour]… times and menus vary at Hapa’s four Vancouver locations. Coal Harbour is the longest, running weekdays from 3 to 5:30 p.m. Pair the chain’s greatest tapas hits with $4 draught beer and $5 wine.” – Alexandra Gill, The Globe and Mail 2014

“The biggest draw for me is how the genre of food can so easily bring people together.  It’s the perfect type of eatery, with its energetic atmosphere, to shoot the breeze with your friends and unwind after a long workweek over a mega pitcher of beer and some tasty food.”
Food: It Is More Vancouver 2013

“Yay…was easy to lure away from work with invite to @HapaIzakaya Coal Harbour Happy Hour! Applies $2-5, beer $4, wine $5”
Dawn Chubai, Breakfast TV

“Plentiful and mouthwatering edibles were served armada style, dish after succulent dish flowing through the beautiful Hapa room effortlessly by the gorgeous Hapa staff.  Libations were flowing over with goodness and not one attendee was for lack.”
Gary M. Yelp 2012

“I always get excited when I know I’m going for dinner at Hapa Izakaya!… Hapa Izakaya is definitely one of the most popular and even one of the first Japanese izakaya restaurants to open in Metro Vancouver, BC. Along with Guu, the two dominate the Vancouver izakaya scene and they seem to be unstoppable. It’s one of the “higher end” izakaya places and it’s still a major hot spot for any occasion. With modern fusion Japanese tapas, pretty staff, and an ultra sexy feel, it’s no doubt that it’s a formula for success and late night dining.”
Mjiune Pak, Follow Me Foodie 2011

“When you enter the restaurant you are greeted by the entire staff in unison, making you feel welcome. While the setting is dimly-lit, it adds to the atmosphere that, while teeming with conversations and chatter fueled by good eats, is mellow and easy-going. This makes Hapa a great neighbourhood hangout as well as a happening spot for a date or night on the town.”
Rebecca Bollwitt, Miss604 2010

“Be adventurous and take your servers recommendations. When you enter the staff will all yell “Irasshaimase” don’t be worried it means “come in”!”
Richard Wolak, Vancouver Foodster 2010

“Vancouver has long had a reputation for amazing Chinese food, but the hottest Asian trend is “Tapanese” (Japanese tapas). Modeled after izakaya bars in Japan, where businessmen gather after work for affordable snacks and sake, Vancouver’s breed is chic and sleek – and serves serious wines too. In 2003, Justin Ault unveiled Hapa Izakaya on Robson Street, in a high-tech room with low-slung tables. He pioneered inspired tapas-style plates, like mackerel blowtorched tableside and beef tataki. Now you’ll find upscale izakaya in the city’s liveliest neighbourhoods.”
Kasey Wilson, Wine Access, August/September 2008

“In a city where sushi joints are more common than Starbucks, izakaya – Japanese pub food – is the next wave in creative Asian cuisine. These small-plate restaurants are always crowded, boisterous and open late. Order from the fresh sheet, or try these fail-safe menu items… Aburi Shime Saba, raw mackerel scorched tableside with a butane torch ($8.80), and Negitoro, Albacore tuna belly chopped with spring onions and served with garlic toast ($7.80)…”
New York Times, T Magazine, March 2008

“…Hapa Izakaya wins my vote. A great social atmosphere combined with delicious dishes and fast, comfortable service makes this a great place for a weekend with friends or an intimate date. Best of all, the prices are surprisingly modest.” 
Pacific Rim Magazine, Volume 2, Issue 10, 2008

“With the popularity of the first Hapa Izakaya on Robson it seems the second, (in the old Urban Well space, in Kitsilano’s restaurant row) was long in coming. Stylish dark interior warmed up with the glow of lights recessed behind columns. …when you are in the mood for an atmosphere that is sexy but still casual.”
Cityfood, Special Edition 2007

“The Aults recently opened their second Hapa Izakaya. The first, an all-out success story, opened on Robson Street four years ago, one the first hip izakayas where there’s no sushi or tempura to be seen: instead, there’s a lot of creative, small plate dishes, styled after the casual after-work beer with some food spots in Japan. Hapa Izakaya… are the standouts in today’s crowded izakaya scene. Hapa’s Kits location is more laid-back than downtown and they’re seeing a lot of people who once hoofed it to Robson Street for the small-plate Japanese food…
Mia Stainsby, Vancouver Sun, June 14, 2007

“Irashaimase! Welcome to the new Hapa Izakaya in Kitsilano. Would you care for a cool slice of Tokyo after a stroll on the beach? …it was Hapa Izakaya, with its dark industrial-minimalist design, comely waitresses and buzzy hipster vibe, that almost single-handedly popularized the izakaya concept by lending it some polished glam. …Hapa Izakaya will no doubt do well in this resort-style neighbourhood just up from Kits Beach.”
Alexandra Gill, The Globe and Mail, May 23, 2007

“…The room is very sleek and quite reminiscent of the original with its dark colour palette and low hanging light fixtures. The open kitchen bar is a stunner, with very young cooks behind it yelling with élan. Try the well presented ebi mayo and the spicy tataki-style beef carpaccio when it’s on the fresh sheet.”
Andrew Morrison, Westender, May 10, 2007

“There’s no better place to admire the meld of form and function than Hapa Izakaya. The food itself is stunningly presented, but I’m talking about a prime people-watching spot her, folks. You’ll find it all: foreign students in funky fashions, business-types unwinding after a day of meetings, and glossy young things who have spent hours agonizing over the perfect outfits to make it look like they didn’t try at all. It’s a good thing there’s so much visual candy, because unless you’re very early, you will be forced to wait a good long stretch for a table at this hopping spot. …But the food is worth waiting for. …I suggest you bring a few friends along if you’re going to try and sample more of the menu. …a restaurant that fills the eyes as well as it fills the belly.”
Claudia Kwan, Metro, March 31, 2006

“THE NEXT BIG THING Roughly 35 percent of Vancouver’s 2-million plus residents are Asian, so it’s little coincidence that these influences dominate the food scene. The hottest buzz at the moment is focused on Hapa Izakaya, a swanky, Japanese-style pub and lounge in Vancouver’s fashion district. Blonde, Caucasian waitresses shout greetings in Japanese with just as much authority as their Asian cohorts. Bartenders fill frozen bamboo stalks with ice-cold sake. Heavy stone bowls arrive at the table sizzling with rice, ground pork, egg, lettuce and spicy miso. Cockles are marinated with kimchi. Pristine toro tuna comes with chopped green onion and garlic bread. …Copycat izakayas are sure to sprout all over the United States soon.”
Angeleno, October 2005

“The best new alternative to sushi isn’t a slab of $100 Kobe beef but the Japanese small-plates style of dining called izakaya. At the forefront of the movement is Vancouver, British Columbia, where there’s a large population of young Japanese looking for authentic food, says Justin Ault, who, with wife Lea, owns the elegant Hapa Izakaya. In Japan, izakayas were once smoky taverns frequented by businessmen, where small plates accompanied beer or sake. In Vancouver, izakaya has evolved into a distinct style: At Hapa sample kabocha squash and walnut salad and Norwegian mackerel, flamed tableside.”
Sunset, October 2005

“Every time I’m at Hapa, I’m struck by how the ambience – complete with the good-looking servers, uncommon cocktails and thumpity-thump music (all soaked by a club-going, late-night, adolescent musk) – is so easily dominated by the food. One minute you feel like getting tanked on sake and making mischief with your oshibori (hot towel), while the next you’re in foodie heaven on the cheap. …Owners Lea and Justin Ault have done an admirable job in keeping things consistent since Hapa’s opening in 2003… I found the staff to be helpful, engaging, and on the ball. The emphasis at Hapa is placed on the vital virtues of fun and relaxation… …they deliver time after time.”
Andrew Morrison, Westender, July 28, 2005

“Downtown, stylish hipsters take their snacks at Hapa.”
Bon Appetit, June 2005

“An izakaya is a Japanese pub with an open kitchen that serves up Asian comfort food. The emphasis is on simple ingredients, quick preparation and a dash of showmanship. Think tapas, not sushi. Best of all, izakaya cuisine won’t break the bank. In Vancouver, Hapa is one of the more stylish izakayas. Located on a stretch of Robson Street where homesick Japanese and Korean students dine, Hapa’s all-black dining room has a frenetic energy with fast-paced servers shouting greetings and food orders over one another. The small dishes (under $10) are meant to be shared. Highlights include fresh Norwegian mackerel, flamed at the table, and hot Korean rice bowls served in heated stone vessels.”
National Post, January 2005 – #2 of Five Best Canadian Destinations for Small-Plates Dining

“If someone told you just a few years ago that one of Vancouver’s hottest dishes would be a mackerel filet seared with a plumber’s torch on the plate in front of you, you might have been inclined to stifle at least a chuckle. Never mind. Since opening just over a year ago, Hapa Izakaya has torched a small ocean full of saba – certainly enough to launch the lively room’s expansion into the space next door. Hapa reopens December 17 with a larger, open kitchen and counter, plenty more seats and a corner patio – no doubt a prime spot come next summer.”
Tim Pawsey, The Vancouver Courier, December 8, 2004

“Hapa opened to rave reviews, awards and a loyal following of regulars – some magazine industry people I know might as well move in.”
EAT, Sept/Oct 2004

“Hapa Izakaya…moved the izakaya concept a tad upmarket – without blowing the pricepoint – and became the hottest joint in town and a guaranteed great night out.”
Vancouver Magazine, April 2004, 15th Annual Restaurant Awards Edition

“Sushi joints are fine, but the next Japanese wave is coming. And, it’s only natural that it should hit Vancouver first. They’re called izakaya, and they’re loud. Walk into Hapa in Robson Street and right away you’re being yelled a welcome (“Irasshaimase!”)… Then servers yell orders at chefs, who shout back in acknowledgment… Izakaya (which translates as “drinking place”) are popping up all around downtown Vancouver – and Hapa Izakaya is also popping up on lists of Canada’s best new restaurants. Owners Justin and Lea Ault trained in the hothouse atmosphere of a Tokyo izakaya, where they learned both the casually inventive culinary style and the secrets of all that screaming. The Aults have brought izakaya style to Vancouver with a little Western touch. No sushi here, just a bewildering array of small Japanese comfort dishes ranging from sublime sea bass to deep-fried chicken wings. If this Japanese wave hits like the last one, there’ll be an izakaya on your block soon.”
Steve Burgess, Toro, April 2004

“Exciting, cutting-edge Japanese bar food; very popular.”
Sunset, March 2004

“Japanese restaurants have been dragged out of the sushi and tempura and yakitori prison once and for all. Hapa, one of the burgeoning izakaya style Japanese restaurants is loud, fun and stylish, too. Stylish would also apply to the food, tapas sized plates of dishes such as nama harumaki, which is like a California roll, only rice paper replaces the nori; there’s drama in the hot stone bowl in which a rice mixture of pork, garlic, sprout, minced veggies and egg is tamped against a ferociously hot stone to give it a crisp skin.”
Vancouver Sun, February 12, 2004 – Top Ten Best New Vancouver Restaurants

“Hapa serves Tokyo-style tapas and traditional Japanese pub fare in this modern hideaway with dark-wood tables and warm amber lights. Have your mackerel blowtorched tableside and your sake served frozen in a foot-long bamboo shoot. Cool enough for Bif Naked, cool enough for us.”
Flare, October 2003

“Justin Ault was working as a stockbroker in Japan when he decided he’d rather be trading in fish cakes and sake than Sony and Nintendo. He and wife Lea opened the sleek, cosmopolitan Hapa Izakaya to a hungry crowd in January. The couple worked in some of Tokyo’s best izakayas (rough translation: eating and drinking places) where they gathered up plenty of good ideas – as well as a chef and kitchen crew. Bar snacks like asparagus bacon maki, deep-fried lotus root with pork filling, and tuna belly with spring onions ($6-9) are meant for sharing. Try the Japanese vodka cocktails or premium draft sake served in a tall bamboo pitcher.”
Murray Bancroft, Fashion Magazine, October 2003

“Irasshai-mase!”cry out the servers, chefs and a full house of mostly Asian customers when we arrive at this chic Japanese restaurant. Wow. The thunderous welcome is almost as pleasant a shock as finding a packed restaurant in Vancouver on a sleepy Monday night. Perhaps the rumours are true: Several critics who have eaten here say Hapa Izakaya is one of the most enjoyable dining rooms to open in the city this year thanks to its stylish informality, warm English-friendly service, and terrific yet inexpensive food. …Once we step in the door, we are immediately impressed by the room’s dark minimalist-industrial design, softly lit by amber columns and tightly fitted with a variety of dark wood tables (some communal). A steamy open kitchen takes pride of place at the back, and is ringed by a low-slung, multipurpose eating-and-drinking bar.
Globe and Mail, July 19, 2003

“Showboating cooks add entertainment value at this izakaya. This restaurant offers dishes quite different from regular Japanese fare in North America – dishes like ishi yaki, rice with minced pork, veggies, spicey miso sauce, topped with a raw egg and cooked in a sizzling hot stone bowl; or kimchee cha-han, rice with kimchee, ground pork, fried rice and egg. The wok dishes involve a lot of energetic tossing and mixing and as the evening wears on, don’t be surprised if a cook starts dancing to the music.
Vancouver Sun, August 30, 2003

“This super-slick but warm and friendly izakaya (Japanese pub) serves up simple, delicious and inexpensive “tapas” to accompany enormous bottles of Asahi beer. Kampai!”
Western Living, Summer 2003, Best New Restaurants

“Hey! Ready for a Japanese restaurant that’s not like any Japanese restaurant you’ve ever been to? It’s called Hapa Izakaya… The atmosphere in this place is nothing short of intense. A line-up starts promptly at 5:30 pm when it opens, and the full room throbs with the energy of a busy nightclub. Down-beat and house music maintain the mood, though is often drowned out, especially when one of the table-wide bursts of effusive laughter brays across the room. The windows are covered for good reason – this place has little to do with the world outside. In fact, the whole point of Hapa Izakaya is to relax and unwind, and, just as in Tokyo, the time for that is in the evening after work… The food… consists of small dishes of delicacies whose unifying theme could be considered “regional fusion”… The result is food that innovates, without challenging culinary sensibilities for shock value’s sake. Combine that with presentational twists on more traditional Japanese fare, and the exuberance in the ambiance is deftly matched with that of the little dishes that soon take over your table. …don’t even think of having a quiet dinner here. Be prepared for a good time, and try anything on the menu…it’s all good. But for dramatic effect, go with the mackerel that is broiled at your table – especially if you’re feeling flamboyant.”
James West, GLV, May 2003

“Owners Lea and Justin Ault have created a slice of Tokyo on Robson…”
Province, May 1, 2003

“A warm blast of EE-RASH-SHAI! slams you as you walk into the dimly lit room. God help you if you’re shy. Heads turn to check you out, before swiveling back to food and friends. The place hasn’t been open long but the word is out, and after about 6:30 pm it’s a crapshoot for a seat. Scarcely noticeable from the outside in its plain black wrapping, Hapa Izakaya sheds its reticence inside. Throbbing contemporary music, black-clad servers (not the usual English-language students in disguise), low lights, slick design, hospitality to spare, the buzz of happy diners and interesting, budget-priced food make for an alluring package. Anyone who’s familiar with Guu with Garlic on Robson or on Thurlow has an idea of what an izakaya eatery is about – the only difference is Hapa has loads of style, starting with front man/co-owner Justin Ault’s welcoming presence and ending with the food on the plate. The scene is more polished than the Pocky and pigtails ex-pat student crowds at other izakaya spots like Guu.”
Mia Stainsby, Vancouver Sun, April 1, 2003

“Hapa shows a menu of deeply satisfying izakaya-style Japanese bistro food in a delightful space.”
Vancouver Magazine, April 2003

“Hapa Izakaya (literally “Leaf Bistro,” although Hapa is also a common Hawaiian adjective meaning bi-racial – in this case, half-Japanese and half-Canadian) opened in late January. And to cut to the quick, Hapa is one of the most enjoyable dining rooms to open in the city in the past year. It is stylish, yet determinedly democratic, cool to the touch in its design, but warm as a kitten named Pocky in its English-friendly service and terrific, inexpensive food. The room is a little black-on-black masterpiece, prettily warmed by back-lit amber columns that play up its patrons. Everyone looks good, and the room’s energy plays through in the thundering shouts of greeting from the kitchen crew and the mainly Japanese, mainly female servers, as well as the quick study of cold sakes, cocktails and draft beers and eclectic, contemporary soundtrack…A return visit found the place packed to the rafters with an attractive, eclectic crowd. Hapa has been discovered. And rightfully so.”
Jamie Maw, Vancouver Magazine, March 2003