That was many, many years ago now, and since that time Mr. Oyster and I have graduated college, moved to the south suburbs, gotten married, worked too much, and started a food blog. Oh, and Hapa has built a couple more restaurants across the metro area, including one near us at Landmark in Greenwood Village that we visited last weekend.
Hapa is not an ideal spot if you're looking for a truly authentic sushi experience. Its menu is filled with "Americanized" sushi rolls containing sugary sauces, fried things and cream cheese everywhere. You also may not want to bring kids to Hapa, or your grandma, or your boss, as the sushi menu is filled with suggestive names. It's more of a trendy, lively place to grab drinks and dinner with friends. You can see why it would thrive in a college town like Boulder, but it also fills a niche in Landmark by catering to the crowds visiting Comedy Works and nearby bars.
Hapa was nearly full when we arrived for our 6 pm reservations on a Friday night, and was completely packed by the time we left. We sat at the sushi bar and watched the chefs in action while we enjoyed our meal.
We started with a sunomono salad ($6), which was comprised of cucumbers with a vinegar dressing, topped with shrimp and octopus.
The salad looked beautiful but was disappointing in terms of taste. The shrimp and octopus pieces both tasted a bit dry. All that was left below the seafood were a million slices of cucumber, making for a tedious eating experience to finish up the salad. I was glad to be splitting the salad with my husband, or I would've given up on the task of eating so much cucumber.
Hapa offers an extensive beer, sake, and cocktail list. Mr. Oyster was very excited to hear that Great Divide Brewing Company makes a rice beer - simply called Hapa Beer ($4) - specifically for Hapa locations across Denver.
|Hapa Beer by Great Divide|
The beer was excellent, but it tasted very very similar to Great Divide's Samurai Rice Ale, which is available in limited distribution across Colorado.
We then moved on to a half order of the salmon sashimi ($8.5).
The simple salmon preparation was perfect. The thickly-sliced pieces were succulent, buttery and rich. I could've eaten about ten of them.
We then enjoyed two sushi rolls, the Dragon Roll ($13) and the Pittsburgh Roll ($7.5).
The Dragon Roll contained crab, shrimp tempura, and cucumber, all wrapped in avocado and eel, and drizzled with a very sweet soy sauce. It was, as expected, decadent, fatty, and rich. I enjoyed it but I was glad we had only ordered one roll that was so heavy tasting.
The Pittsburgh Roll was much simpler than the Dragon, containing only cream cheese, raw salmon, and cucumber. The combination of the fatty salmon, rich cream cheese, and light, crunchy cucumber made for a lovely sushi roll.
Still a bit hungry, we decided to try one last roll, the Mork and Mindy ($8).
This roll contained large chunks of white tuna and salmon, along with chives and mandarin oranges. It was a very fresh, light-tasting and citrusy combination, and a perfect finish to our meal.
I loved the sushi rolls and the sashimi we had at Hapa; I wouldn't get the Sunomono Salad again. Presentation of all the dishes was beautiful.
Don't expect a remotely authentic sushi experience at Hapa at Landmark, but it does have a lively atmosphere, a great drink list, and plenty of decent sushi options.
Pros: Great sushi rolls, reasonably priced
Cons: Crowded, skip the sunomono salad