Hapa Sushi -- sexy rolls, raw fish and edamame

Categories: Jenn in Chains

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J. Wohletz
Hapa Sushi's Mork & Mindy roll.
I made my first foray into sushi at the relatively ripe age of twenty (I don't count the gobs of bad California rolls that I squished down before that), and it was an instant, passionate love affair akin to the greatest romances of all time. Romeo and Juliet, Bogey and Bacall, Robert Pattinson and Kristin Stewart before she started sharing her vamp*ssy.

And Hapa Sushi, a homegrown chain that got its start in Boulder, recognizes that sushi can be sexy.

See also:
-- Photos: Hapa Sushi Grill and Sake Bar rolls into LoDo
-- Hapa Sushi has a happy idea for Halloween: orange thongs

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J. Wohletz
The newest Hapa Sushi in LoDo.
Sushi can also be funny. Owner Mark Van Grack is a guy with a penchant for pulling publicity pranks.

In 2007 Hapa punked Barry Bonds with an ad reading "organic beef and chicken, no added steroids"; in 2009 the Pearl Street Hapa gave out free orange underwear to punk the City of Boulder's prudishness over the Naked Pumpkin run; and the same year Hapa ran a clever ad mapping out the proximity of Hapa's then three locations to 59 medical marijuana dispensaries, with Van Grack telling the New York Times, "If you're going to smoke pot, you're going to get the munchies, so come to Hapa to eat."

And Van Greck's McNaughty sense of humor is apparent with the given names of Hapa's signature sushi rolls, many of them suggestive: 69 roll, Booty Call roll, Climax roll...

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J. Wohletz
The Wagyu beef carpaccio appetizer.
The Hapa Sushi at 1514 Blake Street opened in mid-September; it's the fourth location in the group (the other three are in Boulder, Greenwood Village and Cherry Creek) and just a hop off the 16th Street Mall.

The long, busy sushi bar is downstairs, with a quieter dining room upstairs. At lunch last week the bar held a smattering of chopstick-wielding hipsters, and from the looks of the dishes in front of them, edamame is nowhere close to being over. The décor and atmosphere is stark with black wood, polished metal and dim lighting -- and Hapa's Voltron-esque robot logo here and there just barely keeps the place from looking like every other sushi restaurant circa 1987.

The service started out smashing, and was stellar throughout my entire meal: I love being able to over-tip and mean it. My server gave realistic descriptions of every dish I asked about, and after choosing the American Kobe carpaccio and Monkey Brain appetizers, I asked him what the most popular starter on the menu was. "The edamame."

American Kobe, huh? It's Wagyu beef, but I'm so jaded by used to restaurants playing the Kobe card with Wagyu that I don't even get erfed about it anymore. When my four construction-paper thin slices of beef arrived, in a bath of ponzu sauce and dotted with jalapeno slices, I gingerly removed the peppers, soaked up as much of the acidic, salty sauce as I could with a napkin, and proceeded to enjoy the raw specialty beef for itself. The marbled texture had just enough fat to give the meat that signature flavor, but the ponzu-soaking prevented me from getting the full, rich flavor of the meat -- so order the sauce on the side.


Location Info

Hapa Sushi

1514 Blake St., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant

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