Let’s leave aside the disclaimer that no washoku connoisseur has any
business ordering sushi in—that content is & should be
inseparable from context in this case, the food from the
experience of engaging with & eating according to the
expertise of your itamae. A,
I’m no connoisseur, & B, to get all poetic on you, one could
equally argue that there are no ideas (i.e. mental processing, i.e. experiencing) but
in things
: if, as I suggested in the above-linked Chowhound
thread, delivery sushi is akin to poetry in translation—i.e.,
something other than the real thing—it’s still a thing you can
gauge on its own merits. So, for instance, if nigiri brought in
from Sushi
Den
is inferior to nigiri consumed at Sushi Den, it’s
nonetheless inarguably superior to nigiri ordered in from, oh,
say, Hapa
Sushi Grill & Sake Bar
, the batch of which I had recently
was so insipid as to make the thought of an in-house taste
test—though eventually necessary & only fair—altogether too
dispiriting for the nonce.

In Japanese, happa, 2
Ps, means “leaf,”
including the ganja, or maybe “explosion.” A Google search
yielded conflicting translations, though it did help confirm that
hapa, 1 P, doesn’t mean anything in
Japanese. It’s actually a Hawaiian word, which per Hapa’s website
describes “a harmonious blend of Asian and American cultures” but
per Urban Dictionary is derogatory slang for a half-breed. Guess which
source I trust more.

Actually, the menu explicitly pledges allegiance to a Hawaiian
influence or 2, which is kind of cool, but what clinched an order
from me 1 night when I didn’t feel like cooking & the
Director didn’t feel like getting off the couch was the listing
for umeshiso maki. So far as I’ve searched, no one else in Denver
serves the rolls filled with pickled plum paste & shiso leaf
that I thought were a given in US sushi bars. (If any of you are
aware of other local purveyors, please send word!)

Though I’d looked into using By Jeeves before, this was my first
experience with the delivery service, & I was quite pleased
with the process. The “phone waiter” was very nice &
efficient (if not exactly a whiz in Japanese pronunication—for
one of many instances, hotate nigiri, or ho-TAH-tay nih-GIH-ree, became
HO-tayt ni-ZHEE-ree.
Kinda cute, actually). The delivery dude arrived only a few min.
past the hour allotted, & the service fees were already added
in. In short, the whole affair was fairly hassle-free.

Not so the yaki onigiri.

Hapayakionigiri

Being unfamiliar with these “grilled balls of rice served with
teriyaki sauce,” I was intrigued, imagining a sort of naked Asian
version of Sicilian arancini; what I got was a clump of plain rice,
somehow sticky & dried-out at the same time, except for the
quarter-inch bottom layer that was saturated with cloying goo
(the inclusion of which was altogether an Americanization
according to my fellow Chowhounds, who also assured me the
interior should be almost melting).

The sauteed edamame was fine if a bit messy beneath its
smattering of “Hapa’s seasonings”—a not-so-proprietary blend of
garlic & sesame.

Hapaedamame

And some of my sushi was just fine too. I was indeed delighted to
be reunited with my sour-salty

Hapaumeshiso Hapaoshinko
umeshiso maki, & I’m always down with punchy oshinko (pickled
daikon) rolls.

HapaM&MrollI’ll
sheepishly cop as well to getting a kick out of the Mork &
Mindy roll with white tuna (presumably albacore?), salmon, chives
& a bit of mandarin orange—not surprisingly a nice combo,
given the easy affinity between fish & citrus, though what it
has to do with the goofy old sitcom is beyond me (any ideas?).

But the nigiri was flat-out flavorless.

Hapatuna Hapasalmon Hapahotate Hapamackerel

From the yellowtail & the salmon to the grilled scallop (i.e.
the aforementioned hotate, which the Director chose over raw on a
lark) & even the mackerel (not an easy fish to defang), what
should have been the sparkling centerpieces seemed like
storebought afterthoughts. Granted, my bad for not just assuming
that Hapa would have it all ass-backwards once I saw the way the
menu was categorized—whereby the “beginner” rolls are very
simple, just raw fish & veggies, while the “advanced” rolls
are mostly abominations of baked cream cheese, fried smoked
salmon & garlic-basil butter, bearing names as tacky as their
ingredients. To willingly request the Climax or the Booty Call is
to just ask for it in every sense of the phrase. I’m not
objecting to the inclusion of such concoctions on the menu, mind
you; again, I’m no purist. What gives me hives is the
oh-so-American & no-so-Japanese equation of novelty with
sophistication. The difference, it seems, is in knowing the difference. That
culinary experimentation is, at least in my book, a good thing
does not automatically mean the results thereof are too.

Hapa, you got me up on my soapbox, where I tend to be
particularly awkward (hey, does this platform make me look fat?).
For that reason alone, I damn thee.


Hapa Sushi (Cherry Creek) on Urbanspoon