If you’re in the Denver area, don’t miss out on Hapa Sushi Grill & Sake Bar. Go safe or super adventurous with the sushi, you won’t be disappointed.
Two weeks ago I went with Michele to take her son Jacksen to Denver for his college orientation. Orientation started bright and early Friday morning, so I had almost the entire day to myself. I woke up, worked out, and worked on the blog for a while. I had a light snack in the hotel restaurant after my workout, so by about 10:30AM I was getting really hungry. Normally I would research places to eat before even leaving for the trip, but I figured in Denver and the suburbs there would be so many options we would choose on the run. The only absolute decision was lunch on Thursday at The Cozy Inn in Salina KS. I considered going back to Bar Louie, where we had eaten the night before. But in the spirit of the food blog I had to make another choice.
I had narrowed down my choices to 2 restaurants, and stopped at the hotel front desk to ask their opinion. The guy barely looked up from the computer, and gruffly answered “I have no idea; I’ve never been to either one”. I was so caught off-guard by his response that I just stood there for about 10 seconds. When he realized I was still standing there, he asked another staff member to help me. PJ was much more friendly and accommodating. He gave me several recommendations, including Hapa Sushi, and said if I wanted to go to Hapa Sushi that he would take me in the hotel shuttle. I walked to Bar Louie to have a glass of wine and consider my options. My server at Bar Louie also recommended Hapa Sushi, so I walked back to the hotel and took the shuttle.
There are 4 total Hapa Sushi locations in the Denver area. Three are in or around downtown, plus the location I visited. It is only about a mile away from the hotel, in a development called The Landmark. The hub is a huge condominium complex, and there’s also a movie theater, comedy club, several restaurants, and a few shops and services. There was a lot of activity going on in the area, as it was the height of the lunch rush. Hapa Sushi is in the middle of the retail/restaurant area, and has a great corner location.
Hapa Sushi has an outdoor patio on the side, with 12 tables. Some have umbrellas, and others are under the small overhang of the building. The inside is quite spacious, including a very large sushi bar, and the seating is a combination of tables and half-booths. There is also a full bar in the back corner. I was seated out at the patio, at a table under an umbrella.
I mentioned to the hostess that I was visiting, and she passed that information along to my server. That’s an immediate win in my book, and my server was also very friendly and helpful.
The Hapa Sushi menu is large, and one of the first things that jumped out at me was the very creative names of some of the dishes. The lunch menu includes Hapa-starters, traditional appetizers, salads, bowls and lunch specials, and sushi/rolls.
When I asked for appetizer recommendations, my server went straight to the most expensive on the menu. I chuckled to myself, but didn’t take offense because that’s his job. After some back and forth–and of course skipping past the most expensive–I chose the Magic Mushrooms
These are absolutely fabulous. The salmon was cooked perfectly, and I love the combination of avocado and salmon. I do feel that they are too generous with the aoili, especially since the salmon and avocado are creamy as well. I think half as much aioli is plenty. However, I didn’t let a little thing like that stop me from devouring all of the pieces.
My first taste of sushi was on vacation in Maui in 2007. I tried a bite of my friends’ sushi, which turned out to be raw eel. After that, I refused to try sushi for another 2 years. Now I eat it as often as possible. I still won’t do fully raw, but I have become more adventurous and will eat rolls that have some raw.
The Hapa Sushi menu offers something for everyone with their rolls/sushi. The beginner and vegetarian for the faint of heart, and sashimi, for the most adventurous. You can get the beginner rolls at nearly every sushi restaurant, and I can’t bring myself to do sashimi. So I focused my search on the Hapa original sushi rolls. My server was very knowledgeable about all of the rolls, and gave his honest opinion. He even steered me from a more expensive roll to a less expensive one, based on what I was looking for. I finally decided on the Firecracker roll
Oh my. This is one of the best rolls I’ve ever tasted. I love the crunch of the cucumber in contrast to the shrimp and avocado. The raw tuna is just enough raw for me to be adventurous, but not go crazy. I also really enjoy the contrast of the raw tuna to the cooked ingredients. I love rolls that have crunch on top, as they add yet another layer of texture.
Whenever I’m at a sushi restaurant I always hold onto the menu, in case I want to order another roll. Because you just never know if what you order will be enough to fill you up. I should have just savored the Firecracker roll and been done. But I also wasn’t sure what time we would eat dinner, or what else we would do afterwards. So I finally gave in and decided to try the Shumai
The shumai is delicious, and the sauce put it over the top. About halfway through I knew I had ordered too much, but at that point I pushed through and finished all of them.
I decided to walk back to my hotel after my meal. You have to cross one major road and walk under the highway, but there are sidewalks the entire way so it was an easy walk. Besides, after all the food I ate it was good to walk at least a little bit of it off.
Will I go back to Hapa Sushi? No question. The food was fantastic, and the atmosphere and service were great.