Restaurant highlight: Hapa Izakaya


From fine Italian cuisine to homely local vegetarian dining, I’ve had the pleasure of featuring a wide variety of restaurants that will be participating at this year’s first Gluten Freedom Week. Today I’m so happy to be featuring Hapa Izakaya – a unique Japanese restaurant that offers so much more than just sushi.

Izakaya is essentially a Japanese pub or tapas style of dining where guests can order several dishes to share and enjoy a wide variety of foods and flavours. The restaurant strives to challenge what usually pops into diners’ minds when it comes to Japanese food (i.e. sushi and raw fish) by swaying from staunchly traditional cuisine and incorporating unique fusion flares. Their flare and quirky staff have not only won the hearts of their diners but also earned them numerous industry, magazine and reader’s choice awards. While Hapa Izakaya started in Vancouver, the Toronto location derives its inspiration from locally and seasonally available ingredients, and sources sustainably harvested OceanWise fish.

One of the reasons I’m so excited about Hapa Izakaya’s participation in Gluten Freedom Week is because Japanese food can contain a number of gluten ingredients – from tempura battered vegetables and shrimp to soy sauce to flour dusted meats. Hapa Izakaya does take a number of precautions to accommodate gluten-free guests, including frequent cleanings, a dedicated gluten-free section in their fridge and (top) shelves, clear gluten labeling, the use of squeeze bottles (to reduce falling materials), and the use of metal cooking utensils.

(Important editor’s note: As always, when dining out, be sure you take the time to clearly explain your food sensitivities to your server, and request to speak the manager if you feel it necessary. Be courteous and firm… and do this BEFORE you order.)

During Gluten Freedom Week, May 15-31, Hapa Izakaya will be serving a mouth watering gluten-free five-course prix-fixe meal for only $35.

First Course
Miso Soup w/ tofu, green onion & dried seaweed

Second Course
Kimchi Daikon Salad w/ radish

Third Course
Ebi Oshizushi: prawn, sushi rice, shisho & white miso mayo sauce

Fourth Course
Buta Lettuce Wraps w/ pork belly, green lettuce, pickled red onion & apple jam

Fifth Course
Kinoko Ishiyaki Rice Bowl w/shitake , king oyster + enoki mushroom, sake, mirin, gluten-free soy, nori paste & sesame oil

Visit Hapa Izakaya at 602 College Street

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